Effective Testimony

The question is sometimes raised as to what motive should be dominant in the thought of Christian Scientists in support of the weekly testimony meetings. So essential to the growth of Christian Science are these meetings, so accurately do they register the spiritual status of the church body, that adequate mental preparation for them on the part of the church membership is surely vital.

One attitude of thought not uncommonly indulged, namely, that the responsibility for these meetings is in God's hands and we therefore need make no preparation for them, may safely be eliminated as dangerous. It is true that the meetings are in God's care; but it is to be remembered that while God's work may be said to be forever done, our work as channels for its manifestation is by no means completed. In a certain sense, His work for us was done when we were healed of sickness and sin, when divine Truth redeemed us from sorrow and fear; and the meetings have been appointed that we may tell what God has done, that out of the richness of our experience, the fulness of our gratitude, we may disclose to others the operation of divine law. Responsibility for this, our part, does not devolve upon God, although He does supply incentive, strength, and reward for the service we may render. Everything is done for us that can be done, except only the actual paying of our debt of gratitude.

This debt can never be discharged vicariously. Neither the text-book of Christian Science, nor the manual of church government, provides, by church vote or by general consent, for the designation of a certain faithful few who shall, like Horatio at the bridge, stand off the lurking silences which sometimes would punctuate these meetings. Though rotation in office when rightly understood constitutes an effective means for enlisting the broad interest and cooperation of the church-membership, it implies much more than the limiting of the term of service of the church officers. It means participation in all church activities by all church-members. It assures equalization of opportunity for all, and in like measure it demands distribution of responsibility upon all; and no individual member should desire exemption from its moral appeal. Failure to live up to this basic law of our church polity would inevitably result in unequal tasks, in one-sided, non-symmetrical growth of the church body; in reversion to the supposedly outgrown error of vicarious sacrifice,—the spiritually timid and unresponsive members of the church being tempted to unload duties in which they should share, on to the shoulders of those who are more awake to the demands of the situation.

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God's Perfect Will
September 19, 1914

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