True Discipleship

How may we know a Christian Scientist? Is there any hall-mark, any characteristic which may be said to classify this body of Christian people? It may be said in answer, that for one thing Christian Scientists, of all people on earth, should become the most benevolent. This will come about by reason of their teaching, but the especial doctrine which will contribute most toward distinguishing them from other Christian thinkers, is the novel proposition that evil is impersonal and unreal. This teaching is not modern, by any means. It dates back at least to the time of Jesus, and it is possible that before his matchless earthly career, others were exalted sufficiently to get a glimpse of this great metaphysical truth. In its present form the doctrine is unique only because, like much of the thought of Jesus, it was not understood at the time and has been neglected ever since, to the incalculable loss of mankind. The doctrine runs like a luminous thread through all the theology of Science and Health; and it is the realization of its truth, involving as it does the allness of God, which heals the sick.

In practice we find that even a very small understanding of the statement that evil is impersonal, enables us to love more honestly and to forgive more genuinely. Any state of consciousness in which dwell such qualities as love and forgiveness cannot fail to leave its benign impress upon all its neighborhood. To understand the impersonal nature of evil, sweetens life as nothing else can. It is a very potent antidote for all the poison of hate, growing out of personal antipathies. It heals the corrosive thoughts of jealousy and envy, born of the misguided belief that the evil we see is some person's evil. It enables us actually to forgive what seems a personal wrong, and to say, not hypocritically, but with sincerity, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

No incident of mortal history approaches the sublimity of the scene before Pilate, when Jesus held his peace and retained his calm serenity, undismayed by taunts and gibes, by cruel falsehood and physical torture. He was personally assailed and abused; his trial was a travesty on justice; his purposes, motives, and life-work were misunderstood, and all this by what seemed to be personal enemies. Certainly the evil was operative through personal avenues. The blood of his Christian followers, removed from the scene by nearly two thousand years, sometimes runs hot with shame and anger, when the brutality of his persecutors is remembered, yet he himself opened not his mouth. How was he able to do this? What supreme consciousness supported him through that ordeal? It cloaked him with divine majesty and made him the one illustrious figure in that notable company of Jewish and Roman dignitaries. All the human pomp and glory and power were theirs, but his was the greatest victory ever won, the victory over personality. Divine Love was the victor then, and must ever be the only conqueror of the claims of error. Jesus simply refused to hate. He refused to accept mortal mind's suggestion that these personalities about him were his enemies; that they could do him harm. It must have been the understanding that evil is not personal, which enabled him to pass through all these tests, and remain undisturbed and supreme.

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The Beginner and his Task
August 26, 1905

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