Nowadays, many people have become well-known “influencers” simply by cultivating an online presence. Some of this influence is beneficial. Yet our online time can also be very distracting, or worse still, a corrosive influence.
Of course, negative influences aren’t new. As a New Yorker piece pointed out, “Influence was worrisome long before it was digital” (Laurence Scott, “A History of the Influencer, from Shakespeare to Instagram,” April 21, 2019).
Whether dispersed digitally or otherwise, adverse influences need to be counteracted, and we can each play a role in accomplishing this. For instance, when tempted to be influenced by intense polarization, we can dial down animosity by dialing up the impartiality of our love.
Referring to the timeless commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, Jesus notably put no limit on who qualifies as that neighbor. He also pinpointed the need to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
This guidance goes well beyond managing our outward behavior, as vital as that is. Our thinking has an influence on others, for better or for worse. Like a stone thrown into water, the thoughts we harbor create ripples, which are often felt by others even if these thoughts are not expressed in words or actions.
We recognize this most keenly in the impact our changing moods can have on friends and family. But humanity is another family we belong to, and depending on our mental standpoint, we pour into the ocean of universal human consciousness anything from evil thinking that pollutes to spiritual thoughts that help purify.
So being alert to what kind of thinking we entertain is a way of loving our neighbors near and far. In particular, we can listen for thoughts from the divine Mind, God. They come to us through Christ, God’s message of our true spiritual goodness as God’s creation, made in the spiritual image of the Divine. As such, we are never weak and vulnerable but reflect a strength that is incorruptible, not prone to manipulation.
The influence of recognizing this was illustrated by the impact it had on Jesus’ neighbors. Healing and character transformation resulted, indicating the potential for our understanding of this same idea to be an influence for good today.
We might feel we’re just taking baby steps in understanding this healing idea of our true identity. Yet the willingness to seek this healing, reforming understanding is invaluable. And every glimpse of God’s all-embracing influence that throws spiritual light on the lives of others is also bringing to light the true nature of the glimpser, because we are all reflections of the one divine Mind. As Jesus’ healings proved, limitations such as disease and despair that seem so real to materially based thinking yield to the understanding of divine Love’s infinite influence, bringing to light a spiritual harmony forever known to God and always available to all of us.
Thoughts that lead us away from God’s love, distract us from expressing that love, or even persuade us we are sick, sinful, or stuck in an inescapable victimhood are mental impostors. When we hold to our real being as divine Mind’s reflection, we more readily identify and see through those impostor thoughts. Then divine reality is uncovered in individual healing.
There’s also a wider impact as we conscientiously yield to the one Mind, as highlighted by Mary Baker Eddy when teaching the Christian Science she had discovered to a class. Referring to the perfection of creation revealed in the Bible’s book of Genesis, she said, “We, to-day, in this class-room, are enough to convert the world if we are of one Mind; for then the whole world will feel the influence of this Mind; as when the earth was without form, and Mind spake and form appeared” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” pp. 279-280).
This doesn’t denote a desire to convert anyone to a particular religious denomination. Rather, it signifies a yearning to help overcome the false paradigm of life in matter through recognition and demonstration of divine Love’s overarching influence.
Whether or not we have a public calling, we can contribute to a happier, healthier, and more just world. Daily devotion to entertaining the “influencer” humanity most needs – the Christ-idea – is a great way to help realize that goal.
Adapted from an editorial published in the Jan. 27, 2020 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.