Spiritual knowing is primary

Reaching the Community

The role of the student of Christian Science is to work out his own salvation. Finding his true self, he cannot help including his concept of his neighbor in this discovery, because the way he sees his neighbor will be essentially the result of how he sees himself. Such a role is not selfish, therefore, because it provides the pattern for helping our neighbor and the community in a basically practical way.

There is a difference, however, between traditional approaches to community work and the attitude of Christian Scientists, although a love of humanity and a desire to help are common to all. Broadly speaking, the difference lies between seeing on the one hand an evil or a lack that, for all the best reasons, one wishes to overcome, and knowing on the other hand the complete and trouble-free nature of true being, before which the human need has to dissolve. The important point is that the latter does not preclude practical involvement in daily life: it does mean that what one does humanly is secondary to what one knows spiritually.

Christ Jesus, whose compassion for those in need was an example for his followers, did not just respond to problems. Rather, he let problems respond to what he was knowing and being. It is several times recorded that he resisted the pressure of the multitudes and withdrew to be alone. His ministry of teaching and healing began when he returned "in the power of the Spirit" Luke 4:14; after forty days of turning to God during a time of temptation. He did not help his neighbor at the expense of his own spiritual welfare; but, looking after that, he was in a position to help his neighbor the more.

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May 23, 1977

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