Church and Church Membership

During the past year I have on many occasions heard the thought expressed that a Christian Scientist could work out the problem of life better outside of church organization than within it. When the reason for such an expression was analyzed, it usually became plain that the individual felt a sense of dissatisfaction with what seemed a lack of spiritual harmony at church meetings. To his casual observation there was too much discord, too much argument over nonessentials; the members were not working out church problems as they should, according to divine Principle! Then would follow the argument that such conditions tended to retard individual progress, which could be gained better, and more quickly, by solitary work.

Nor is it only those who desire to drop church membership, nor yet those who for some such reason delay their applications for membership, who express similar sentiments. Often upon leaving a meeting in which some difference of human opinion has caused a delay in demonstrating perfect accord, some loyal member will regret that more good metaphysical work has not been done, and will not hesitate to condemn the laxity of members in this direction.

Now there is no doubt as to the sincerity of the students who thus express themselves; but there is a lack among them of real understanding of church and its present mission in the world's development. Mrs. Eddy leaves us in no doubt as to this mission when she says in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 164): "As the Wisemen grew in the understanding of Christ, the spiritual idea, it grew in favor with them. Thus it will continue, as it shall become understood, until man be found in the actual likeness of his Maker. Their highest human concept of the man Jesus, that portrayed him as the only Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and Truth, will become so magnified to human sense, by means of the lens of Science, as to reveal man collectively, as individually, to be the son of God." The individual's work, then, to reflect health and harmony and to find God's man for himself, is not all that the world at the present time needs. If it had been so, our inspired Leader would not have organized a church movement; but because we must come to recognize "man collectively," as well as individually, as the reflection of divine Love, the problem of demonstrating one's own share of that collectivity belongs to each student to-day, as much as does any portion of his individual work.

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Great Possessions
September 22, 1923

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