Are we pursuing real success?
I can point to so many individuals—writers, musicians, artists, sportsmen and women, business people, political leaders—whose successes inspire me. Each has lived a life of devotion to their field. And many “heroes” serve in fields less visible yet no less vital: education, religion, policing, the military, civil rights, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and so on.
Yet regardless of the visible good we’re achieving, or regret not achieving, we accomplish a great deal each day if our experience includes spiritual growth—the willingness to rise from a material to a spiritual sense of existence. To faithfully follow the Bible’s counsel to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24), is in itself a successful life of growing in our understanding and proof of what we are as God’s, Spirit’s, creation.
Doing this is success in the context of our own well-being. Gaining in the knowledge of God’s nature and our true relation to God brings us healing and clarity about our purpose. But it’s also success that reaches beyond our own lives. What our neighbors near and far most need is for limited, worldly thinking to increasingly give way to a scientific, spiritual understanding of reality: to the knowledge and experience of God’s presence and power. Each time we grow in our grasp of this, the balance of human consciousness shifts in this direction. These shifts, no matter how modest, are transformational.
This is especially true when we prove the divine presence and power in the resolution through spiritual means alone of health issues and other problems, such as the overcoming of envy in a performer’s career (as related in this issue’s lead feature; see Jennifer Foster, “Loving the Tenth Commandment”). Every healing of sickness or sin, whether noted by others or not, sheds light on the divine nature of reality, and lifts a little of the material veil off humanity’s inherently spiritual thinking.
But what if we consider that our accomplishments in spiritual growth are too modest? The woman who discovered that the knowledge of our relation to God is a demonstrable Science—Christian Science—is Mary Baker Eddy. She highlights the value of sincerely seeking spiritual growth, but she also offers encouragement and compassion if our progress seems slow: “Imperfect mortals grasp the ultimate of spiritual perfection slowly; but to begin aright and to continue the strife of demonstrating the great problem of being, is doing much” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 254).
Every healing of sickness or sin, whether noted by others or not, sheds light on the divine nature of reality.
Something that can divert us from this constructive “strife” of growing spiritually is seeking success on the basis of personal ambition. Science and Health includes the following wake-up call: “Let it be understood that success in error is defeat in Truth” (p. 239).
In Christian Science, Truth is a synonym for God, our real source of being, while error is “a supposition that pleasure and pain, that intelligence, substance, life, are existent in matter” (Science and Health, p. 472).
By reversal, we can say that success in Truth is understanding and experiencing the deeper, divine intelligence and substance we’re truly made of, and this includes spiritual bliss and excludes all pain. Jesus exemplified this by proving the life-transforming impact of Christ—the healing idea of the divine Life, God, as everyone’s true, spiritual life.
Yielding to this idea of ourselves and others is putting on “the new man”—turning from self-will and self-centered goals to the discernment and implementation of Love’s, God’s, divine will. The consistency with which we do this determines whether we’re advancing in the way of Truth that Christ Jesus pointed out, or are being beguiled by success or failure within the framework of error. As the notion of existence in matter becomes less alluring, and the actuality of life in Spirit more compelling—impelling us to love our neighbor more deeply—Christ is overcoming error’s hold.
For some, this spiritual growth underpins worthwhile, generous achievements in a career or other venture. For others, it leads to the full-time practice of Christian Science healing. But everyone who loves and proves something of the healing Science of Christ makes a precious contribution to the world’s awakening from the belief that life is material rather than spiritual. This is humanity’s route to salvation, and every effort that leads in that direction deserves and earns the priceless accolade articulated in Jesus’ parable of the talents: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21, New King James Version).
Tony Lobl, Associate Editor