Who wouldn’t love to now understand the family of man in the way the Bible assures us we are made to be: “[God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6)?
By definition today, a family name is the name all members of one family share in common. Surnames in the Western world are a relatively recent phenomenon, however. They came about in medieval times and often denoted people’s occupation or the region in which they lived.
But history, even recent history, shows that surnames have sometimes segmented societies and unfairly stereotyped large groups of people. Even more mischievous is the claim that surnames tie us to a mortal history, when, in truth, we all have a name—an identity—that forever links us to God and reveals our eternal spiritual individuality.
In all her published writings, Mary Baker Eddy uses the term family name just once. She writes, “Man is the family name for all ideas,—the sons and daughters of God” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 515). Mrs. Eddy’s use of this phrase is followed by explanations of what it means to reflect God. On the next page, for example, she states, “Life is reflected in existence, Truth in truthfulness, God in goodness, which impart their own peace and permanence.”
The first time the significance of this family name, man, dawned on me, it was with tremendous delight—like a child on the first day at school, with a whole new world of understanding about to open up. Now, hearing the family name man brings me a sense of peace and an understanding of our common Christly nature: our pure, undefiled relationship to God and to each other.
We all have a name that reveals our eternal spiritual individuality.
I think of this special family name as God saying to us: “You are a member of My family. I have made you to forever reflect the fullness of Life; to know and delight in all that is spiritual, beautiful, good, and true. In Me is your hope, your ability, and your source of life, all reflected in your spiritual nature. Your place is secure and under the law of universal harmony.” And all this has tremendous meaning and a practical effect when applied in our experience.
Years ago a lawsuit was brought against the company I worked for. I was asked to meet the woman bringing the suit to see if it could be settled out of court amicably. We agreed to meet at a local restaurant. Before the meeting, I prayed earnestly to overcome an overwhelming sense of fear. But it was the prayer that came to me in the restaurant that I’ve never forgotten.
As I waited at a table, I noticed that the walls in the restaurant were mirrors and that, obviously, all the people in the room were reflected in them. It was a wonderful reminder of man’s true spiritual identity as God’s reflection. In a flash the thought came: “I can’t be in the presence of God alone. I can’t hear Truth alone. I can’t feel the presence of Love alone. We are all reflecting God.” This spiritual reflection is a law that includes all and holds all in unity. It is the basis of true harmony.
When the woman arrived, she said she wasn’t feeling well and would have to leave in 15 minutes. As a result, we only ordered beverages. As soon as the waiter left, to my surprise the woman said, “Would you please tell me about God?”
The issue of the lawsuit never came up. When the waiter came back with our drinks, the woman suddenly said she wanted to order lunch. We stayed for more than an hour, talking about God and His healing presence. When we left, the woman mentioned that she was no longer ill and asked where she could get a copy of Science and Health. The lawsuit was dropped.
To take the import of this story a step further, it is truly not unrealistic to understand all mankind as dwelling in the presence (and care) of God and as the reflection of God. In this reflection we see beyond material personalities. We see each other in a purer, spiritual light—and as the family of God. We cannot find ourselves in God’s care without finding everyone in His care.
One name—man—belongs to us all. As we accept and understand this, we increasingly see more health and harmony in our experience—more love, truthfulness, goodness, and fullness of life expressed in the family of man.
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