Church Membership

Christian Science church edifices vary, but church memberships are similar. The edifices are inspiring in proportion as they express beauty, security, and peace; but the inspiration to be gained from the demonstrated understanding of membership in a church is far greater; indeed, it is so uplifting that it can destroy the human instinct for unkind criticism. When one realizes the heterogeneous nature of the followers of Christian Science, a more sympathetic outlook is at once established. Christian Science draws its adherents from all kinds of people, showing a great diversity in its personnel. All Christian Scientists are united on one point—the truth of Mrs. Eddy's teachings. Aside from this fact their outlook on life covers the widest range possible.

In a Christian Science church membership will be found those who came from the church element of society and those who had no church affiliations; those who formerly believed in a corporeal God and those who had no God; those who believed in some sort of prayer and those who never prayed; those who were superstitious and those who were coldly intellectual. In it are those who came to Christian Science because they were poor in spirit and those who came because they were poor in health; those who came from an experience of great unhappiness and those who have had no bitter trials. There are those from different so-called orthodox denominations; those who have lived in environments steeped in tradition and convention and those who have been nonconformists; those who have been Bible students and those to whom the Bible was a closed book; those to whom the social side of orthodox church life has meant much and those to whom such activities have been meaningless. Here, also, are found those who have had material wealth and those who have had little or none; those who have had cultural advantages and those who have had none of these; those who have been healed of the most serious vice and those who have never known bondage to that type of sin. One could go on enumerating contrasts, but these will suffice to awaken thought to this aspect of membership. Of course, many of these diversities appear in any social group; but it is perhaps safe to claim that in none are found such wide diversities as the Christian Science church, because its membership is drawn from all creeds and from no creeds at all. It thus presents as diverse a cross section of civilized humanity as is to be found anywhere.

Now, considering such a body of individuals, especially in a large church, differing in many aspects, in the little tastes and points of view and in customs that usually keep people apart or bring them together socially, but all "united in one band" in regard to God, all seeking to "know the truth" that makes men free, all of one accord as to the value of Christian Science and as to the value of knowing more and more about it—great inspiration and charitableness are bound to come from this contemplation. The common Cause is the common ground of all; and as an individual member ponders this unanimity of purpose, this ideal of the Christ demonstrated that has brought all the members together to form a church, an uplifting peace fills the thought. Of what moment is it that there are differences here and there that have only to do with unimportant outside activities, provided all are agreed on what constitutes Christian Science and the necessity for obeying the Manual? And what does it matter if there are slight differences of opinion as to the business affairs of the church? Honest differences of opinion do not constitute strife, provided they are put forward in a friendly way and with due regard to the rights of others to state their opinions. And it will not matter, if one keeps in thought the wonder of the whole situation—these many individuals gathered together from such diverse conditions, with the common purpose of demonstrating the true Church and making progress toward that end with an ever increasing degree of harmony. Shoulder to shoulder they are making a common fight on error, a fight that is successful in proportion to the selflessness of the workers. For it is by holding the ideal above self that the true idea of brotherhood in church membership is established.

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Right Thinking
May 20, 1933

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