Church indestructible

Today’s contributor, an admirer of great architecture, explores the idea of church as an unconfined, empowering, spiritual structure.

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Years ago I attended the Sorbonne University in Paris. Because of the city’s awe-inspiring cityscapes and exquisite buildings, I fell in love with great architecture. So many buildings in Europe and elsewhere are hundreds of years old. It can be easy to imagine that such structures will last forever, though of course they cannot.

But I’ve been learning in my study of Christian Science of a structure that is actually untouchable, indestructible. It’s not a physical building; its substance is divine beauty, nobility, and spirituality that can never truly be destroyed.

Mary Baker Eddy, a devout student of the Bible who dedicated her life to honoring God, explains the nature of this structure in the profound spiritual definition of “Church” found in her seminal work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” The definition begins, “The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle” (p. 583).

The words “Truth,” “Love,” and “Principle” are capitalized in that sentence because they refer to God. This points to a concept of church that, rather than being made of bricks, stone, or wood, is above all a spiritual idea – one in which we honor God in our thoughts and hearts. That makes church a living presence and power. And if the idea of church is divinely established, it must be eternal, like the Divine. It can never be destroyed or harmed but rather is and always will be an ongoing, uninterrupted activity.

This gives me such comfort because it means that church is something we always have with us. We’re living it when God-inspired qualities such as truthfulness, love, and fairness are the foundation of our thoughts and guide our actions.

Science and Health goes on to expand that definition of “Church,” describing its effect on the world. It includes elevating and uplifting humanity, lifting us out of limited, materially based thinking with the light of spiritual understanding and healing.

We discover this true sense of church as we open our hearts to thinking and living consistently with God’s laws – with our real identity as the expressions of His love, goodness, and peace. And so we could say the purpose of church is to share and declare the Word of God, which brings healing. As the biblical figure David wrote, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!... He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Psalms 107:15, 20).

This healing concept of church was a great comfort to me when I faced a hereditary condition of a diseased, swollen, and infected leg. I immediately turned to the spiritual laws of divine Truth, Love, and Principle. I felt safe knowing that God’s love was governing me, that what God knew about me was the only truth – that as His spiritual daughter I am whole and protected.

I stayed in this mental realm of church for a month, consistently declaring that the Word of God, and not the situation with my leg, determines my real identity. Even though at one point the condition grew worse, I felt such trust in God’s care.

At the end of the month I was able to attend the Thanksgiving service at my local Church of Christ, Scientist. I don’t think it was any coincidence that I discovered my leg was completely healed as I sat – literally and figuratively – in church. That was over a decade ago, and the problem hasn’t returned. (To read more about this healing, see my testimony titled “Skin condition – healed” in the Jan. 2009 issue of The Christian Science Journal.)

As a spiritual concept in our hearts, church is relevant and powerful today and forever. Its true value is not confined to a building, whether empty or full, old or new. A friend said to me the other day, “You know, it’s not the amount of people in the church that’s important; it’s the amount of church in the people.” As we learn about God as the divine Truth and Love that structures our lives and we yield to the divine Principle guiding each and every one of us as children of God, we will find ourselves in this indestructible haven of peace, the spiritual idea known as church.

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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.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

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.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.