Put the Golden Rule in play
For years I’ve enjoyed playing baseball in a men’s league. But one year, when the first game of a new season arrived, I noticed that a number of my teammates were hesitant to talk to me. Then I overheard a small group refer to me as a bit too old to be playing in that division. I was liked but seen as incapable of playing competitively because of the age factor.
At first I felt disheartened and bitter at being left out and labeled as not strong, talented, or able enough because of age. I struggled on the field and played very little for several games.
Then, wham! I realized I was not being mentally inclusive toward my teammates, either. I wasn’t feeling grateful for their presence and for the joy they exuded in playing the game we all loved. I was classifying them as brash, unjust, and shortsighted. I was limiting and labeling them!
Was this the way Christ Jesus would have handled the situation? I’ve always found it valuable to look to the Golden Rule that Jesus taught as a basis for how to treat others: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (see Matthew 7:12 ). So I had to admit, the answer was, “Absolutely not.”
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by Mary Baker Eddy, who was both a student and follower of Christ Jesus and the Discoverer of Christian Science, explains, “When the divine precepts are understood, they unfold the foundation of fellowship, in which one mind is not at war with another, but all have one Spirit, God, one intelligent source, in accordance with the Scriptural command: ‘Let this Mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus’ ” (p. 276 ).
Spiritual sense, which we all have, helped me to take a more inclusive approach.
Fellowship is akin to inclusion, and a key first step in healing division can be to recognize how Jesus taught and practiced the highest sense of love, which includes everyone and leaves no one sitting by the wayside. Jesus saw others as God sees each and every one of us, His children—as spiritual and flawless, part of one divine family. This brought about instant healings.
In one case, a group brought a woman to be stoned for having committed adultery (see John 8:1–11 ). But Jesus refused to condemn her, telling her, “Go, and sin no more.” In this remarkable and loving example, Jesus did not label the woman as an irredeemable sinner. He saw her as the pure, divinely loved expression of God, and as capable of living that spiritual identity.
Each of us, too, can strive to see those around us as God’s children—ageless, complete, skilled, and full of kindness, joy, and grace. If we want others to see us that way, we certainly need to be seeing them in the same light! Then we experience more of the freedom and healing this inclusive, spiritual perspective brings.
That’s what happened in the situation with my teammates. Spiritual sense—the capacity to understand God—which we all have, helped me to take a more inclusive approach. I did a complete about-face in thought, my goal being to put the Golden Rule (even more than the ball!) in play. This led to an appreciation of the spiritual qualities we all have in common. I considered the joy (in being together), appreciation (for what each of us brought to the game), generosity (in recognizing each other’s unique skills), and brotherhood (willingness to work together) that my teammates expressed.
As I saw more clearly our spiritual unity as manifestations of divine Life, God, expressed through our activity together, my attitude changed. And in short order I got more playing time, contributed to the team, and was included as an equal in every way.
Recognizing everyone’s place in God’s family opens the way to freer expressions of God’s love toward each other.
Much attention is given today to the topic of inclusion, and there is great merit in the desire to be open, kind, and understanding of and loving to everyone. At times it can seem quite an overwhelming task. But recognizing everyone’s true, spiritual nature and completeness, as well as each one’s place in God’s family, opens the way to freer expressions of God’s love toward each other.
When we’re feeling the pull of judgment or prejudice, we can turn first and foremost to God, Love, for guidance. A favorite simple quote from the Bible says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10 ). When we prayerfully listen for and obey the spiritual intuitions that God—divine Mind, Life, Truth, and Love—sends us, we are lifted out of a personal, limiting way of looking at others to a calm, uplifted, spiritual outlook.
Mrs. Eddy lays out for us our true nature as children of God, the source of all good. Science and Health says, “Immortal men and women are models of spiritual sense, drawn by perfect Mind and reflecting those higher conceptions of loveliness which transcend all material sense” (p. 247 ).
Wholeheartedly accepting this definition of our fellow beings is a wonderful way of getting beyond unhelpful labels and stereotypes. Divine qualities are reflected in each one of us. The perfect, spiritual man and woman, which Christ Jesus saw in those he encountered, is the absolute, true identity of everyone. God is Love, and we are at one with this Love—expressing God’s perfect goodness and love. This spiritual reality is more clearly understood as we define one another spiritually, not materially.
At the highest level, then, inclusion is much more than classifying a bunch of individuals and trying to get to a point of happy consensus amid disparate characteristics. It stems from spiritual truth, the recognition of each and every one of us as God’s child—individual in expression and perfect in completeness. Our unifying factor is God, who is All.
Each of us can affirm and live this spiritually based inclusion with those around us. This is attainable right now. It requires us to turn our thoughts to the spiritual reality of our common family—at one with God, inspired by God, complete in God. In this way, embracing in thought and action the following statement, we’ll be contributing to greater inclusivity in the world around us:
“It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established. Having no other gods, turning to no other but the one perfect Mind to guide him, man is the likeness of God, pure and eternal, having that Mind which was also in Christ” (Science and Health, p. 467 ).