IN the wilderness Christ Jesus was tempted to believe that bread was his basic need. His answer to evil's suggestion that he turn stones into bread should serve as a lasting correction to the human belief that matter is ever the basic need of mankind. He said (Matt. 4:4), "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." The Master understood that life is not in matter or dependent upon it, and he turned men to God as the source of all real being and sustenance.

Today, in the wilderness of confused material thinking, humanity is being tempted to believe that if the things it calls basic needs—food, clothing, and decent housing—are provided first, then individuals and peoples will progress toward happiness, political harmony, and cultural freedom. But this reasoning is not sound, for it omits the great facts which Christian Science reveals: that Spirit is the only substance, and that man lives by divine decree. When men acknowledge God as All and prove man's sonship with Him by loving, such human needs as shelter and sustenance are supplied in proof of the Father's law of provision. Mary Baker Eddy says in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 263), "Always bear in mind that His presence, power, and peace meet all human needs and reflect all bliss."

Humane measures taken to care for the physical well-being of the oppressed and destitute are, of course, requisite. They show forth compassion and other merciful, God-derived qualities. But the mere possession of matter cannot guarantee progress that only uprightness of character can assure. In fact, its possession without righteousness leads to moral inertia and cultural death. Hence matter—lifeless, loveless, mindless—should not be considered the basic need of men. Furthermore, society cannot do for the individual what he must learn to do for himself—prove man's unity with God and demonstrate divine Love as the sustainer of life.

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

August 5, 1950

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.