Have you ever felt that others were determining your value and worth to society based on your age? Many have probably felt that way at one time or another, but I recently read about a woman who has so clearly proved that her talent has nothing to do with her years. Cuban-American abstract artist, Carmen Herrera, who had been painting for more than six decades, sold her first painting at the age of 89. Shortly after, more of her paintings sold. Now her artwork is in collections in many different countries. You could say the value of her contribution to the world has only appreciated over time.
Sadly, though, this isn’t always the norm. Now, and throughout history, growing older often symbolizes depreciation of value in the eyes of the world.
For example, the book of Leviticus indicates that in Bible times, if a person wanted to make a vow to God, he could offer himself or another to God by paying the sanctuary a monetary equivalent of the person’s predetermined value. Leviticus 27:3–8 lists the values of men, women, and children based on their age. Males between the years of twenty and sixty are listed as the highest valued group at fifty silver shekels per male. But females over sixty are one of the least valued groups, each woman being worth a mere ten shekels each.
This practice may have represented one of the highest ways people knew how to worship God in those times, but the passage can be troubling to modern readers. Having our value be determined by our age (or gender) reveals a misconception about our true worth. This misconception is based on the general belief that we are merely fleshly beings. According to this material belief, we are born into matter, mature and hopefully find our purpose, accumulate experience and skills over a period of years, and then finally reach our peak of usefulness. After that, we are pushed aside and begin to decline.
Is it any wonder that this material view of life and identity can lead to feelings of emptiness and despair? The teachings of Christian Science bring hope and healing by providing us with the understanding of the true concept of ourselves as immortal and forever useful as God’s own likeness.
As the likeness of God, divine Spirit, our substance is actually spiritual.
The good news is that we can correct how things look humanly by understanding that as the likeness of God, divine Spirit, our substance is actually spiritual. After all, Spirit, God, couldn’t create us out of material elements, since matter is the opposite of Spirit. God is our substance, and He knows us as His spiritual expression. Your substance and mine, then, is entirely spiritual, reflecting spiritual qualities such as joy, beauty, and strength, each of which is unbounded and perpetually expressed in us. These spiritual qualities have no material element, so they cannot fade, deteriorate, or become worthless. They’re as unchanging and permanent as God. This shows our eternal value as the image and likeness of God.
One of the greatest statements of true worth is found in the book of Matthew in the Bible. Christ Jesus is being baptized by John. As Jesus comes up out of the water, it is recorded that the heavens open up to Jesus and he sees “the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.” Then there is “a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16, 17).
In Christian Science, the Christ is understood as the divine idea of God, which Jesus expressed so perfectly. Jesus is no longer walking the earth, but the divine idea of God he represented is still present today and forever, communicating to human thought the truth of our being, which reflects the divine nature. The author of the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, “Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 332).
So, the Christ is the divine idea, the message from God to us revealing our spiritual selfhood. This Christ message comes directly to our thought and imparts the truth of our inestimable value as the beloved son or daughter of God, in whom He perpetually delights. The Christ tells us of our never-ending purpose to express God’s beauty, perfection, wholeness, goodness, and strength.
This divine purpose is important and valuable to God right now and always because, as God’s likeness, we are always cherished by God. As we read in Science and Health: “If God, who is Life, were parted for a moment from His reflection, man, during that moment there would be no divinity reflected. The Ego would be unexpressed, and the Father would be childless,—no Father” (p. 306). As God’s reflection, we are the forever proof that God is acting, moving, knowing, being—and is magnificent. What a worthwhile value we have!
Our purpose as God’s expression can never really lose its value. It has an eternal value and continuance.
When does this purpose of expressing God end? Never. Divine Life’s expression is eternal. Your spiritual qualities—your spiritual substance—are evergreen. Accepting this fact counteracts the seeming material effects of the misconception that man’s value depreciates with age.
Mrs. Eddy is an excellent example of someone who lived these truths and succeeded in her later years. She wrote: “The radiant sun of virtue and truth coexists with being. Manhood is its eternal noon, undimmed by a declining sun. As the physical and material, the transient sense of beauty fades, the radiance of Spirit should dawn upon the enraptured sense with bright and imperishable glories” (Science and Health, p. 246).
She demonstrated these facts to an impressive degree, as she pursued her lifework into an advanced age. She discovered the Science of Christ and wrote the Christian Science textbook, published in 1875. She founded the Massachusetts Metaphysical College and taught hundreds of students how to heal through Christian Science. She founded a worldwide church movement. She established herself as an author of books and articles, and founded a publishing house that is still active today in the publication of this magazine and other Christian Science literature. And she did all of these things in the second half of her life. In fact, she established the international newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, in 1908 when she was close to ninety years old.
Our purpose as God’s expression can never really lose its value. It has an eternal value and continuance, and in fact it only broadens and increases as we advance spiritually.
None of us needs to let his or her value be defined by years. We overcome beliefs of age limitations by understanding that our true substance is spiritual and eternal, like our creator, divine Spirit; that we are the loved child of God; and that our unique identity and purpose as His treasured expression are lasting and invaluable to God throughout eternity.
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