The greatest teacher

A Christian Science perspective: We can learn priceless lessons from the teachings of Christ Jesus.

Take a moment. Close your eyes and think of those special teachers who made the biggest impact on your life. For me, I see my French teacher in high school, whose enthusiasm for internationalism opened my eyes to a world beyond my own. I remember my piano professor in college, who spent extra hours coaching and encouraging me when I faced performance hurdles. I think especially of my “first” teachers, Mom and Dad, and the lessons of love they taught by their own untiring examples.

But when I consider the one teacher who most inspires me and millions upon millions today, I find Christ Jesus to be the greatest teacher of all time. In the Bible it’s recorded that his listeners “were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority” (Mark 1:22, New Revised Standard Version). He used inspired symbolism and stories to illustrate the spiritual truths he taught. He asked questions of his listeners – got them thinking in new ways. He taught in poor places and wealthy ones, to the educated and to the outcasts, along the roadsides, in fishing boats, and by a well.

And he taught by example. We see Jesus praying, healing the sick, forgiving his enemies, and being “moved with compassion” (e.g., Mark 6:34). His actions defined God anew to humanity as divine Love, the All-Father, who is wholly good and ever present to heal and save.

Yet remarkably, Jesus never took credit as a personal teacher. He said, “I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49, NRSV). He was inspired by God at all times, teaching and living from the basis of his spiritual unity with his Father. In fact, his spiritual individuality was the eternal Christ, the divine manifestation of God, which redeems humanity from ignorance, sickness, and sin. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science and of this newspaper, writes, “Jesus aided in reconciling man to God by giving man a truer sense of Love, the divine Principle of Jesus’ teachings, and this truer sense of Love redeems man from the law of matter, sin, and death by the law of Spirit, – the law of divine Love” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 19).

One of my favorite sayings of Jesus he uttered at the close of his career: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). My study of Christian Science has helped me to see that the “I” in this passage indicates the spiritual, ever-present, eternal Christ, or Truth, which Christ Jesus, the Son of God, manifested and which is here for me and you today.

As I’ve prayed to be receptive to the Christ – especially when times have been tough or when I’ve not felt well – I’ve found that Christ’s tender message of God’s love for each of us, His spiritual creation, shepherds my thought and opens the way to a greater sense of divine Love’s care for everyone, lighting my path with fresh inspiration that brings help and healing. Pain, grief, and fear have been replaced with harmony, peace, and joy – and also with a growing understanding that our true identity is based in God, Spirit, not matter, and that we are the image, or reflection, of the one God (see Genesis 1:26, 27), always loved and sustained.

As a follower of Christ Jesus, these are small but meaningful steps for me. Such meek beginnings and greater victories await all of us as we look to Jesus, the great teacher, as our Way-shower. His spirituality, unsurpassed affection for God and for mankind, triumph over the cross, and many healing works stand as a priceless example for all humanity. Our humble, heartfelt desire to follow in the path Jesus pointed out opens the door to spiritual understanding, harmony, and healing in our own lives.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

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The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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