As a reader of The Christian Science Monitor, I can think of many articles that have impacted my life. But one was so memorable that it influenced my eventual career path.
While in graduate school, I read a series in the Monitor, “Children in Trouble: A National Scandal,” about children in jail, and one article in particular, “Children cannot be stored …” (April 7, 1969), by staff correspondent Howard James. This left me with a strong desire to help these incarcerated children, and I prayed about their conditions.
The desire to help those in need comes from our natural desire to love God and our fellow man.
Many of these children had no place to go to call home (“home” was jail or detention). As I turned to prayer, I affirmed that God’s children lived and had their home in God, divine Mind and Spirit. God was the only power and presence governing them. A classic article from The Christian Science Journal called “God’s Law of Adjustment” (January 1916) was meaningful to me and brings out that there is no condition where God’s law is not in operation—reforming, adjusting, and improving any circumstance through His all-power, as His law is understood and yielded to.
Some years after reading the Monitor article, I had the opportunity to work as a coordinator for neglected and delinquent students under US federal funding, monitoring state and county detention centers. It was an opportunity to help dedicated teachers and administrators working day by day behind bars with incarcerated students for academic and behavioral progress.
From the time those heavy metal doors closed behind me when I entered a facility, to the time I rode away, I often reached out in prayer to God, Mind, for spiritual ideas and answers for what these children and supervising adults needed. I saw the poor conditions of some facilities, and I saw some tough scenes. But these instances prompted prayer that affirmed Father-Mother God, Soul, as safely sheltering each of Her children.
Some of the ideas I continually worked with are as follows: God, divine Truth, our Father-Mother, parents and shelters His children. His reflection has dominion. God’s man is not a fallen mortal, but reflects God in value and worth. Man’s character is divine, not humanly fallible and subject to cycles of crime.
As the image and likeness of God, each child’s merit as God’s idea is a permanent fact, and His children cannot be vulnerably attracted to evil or sin. There are no “predetermined” material traits, genes, or conditioning to doom anyone’s life to being less than God’s perfect spiritual reflection. There is no pull, temptation, or animal magnetism that has power to draw lives downward to sinful behavior, because Love or Truth is the only attraction, the only power. Sin therefore has no authority or power over God’s children—over any man, woman, or child.
The desire to help those in need, such as my desire to help children in jail, comes from our natural desire to love God and our fellow man. Christ Jesus understood that the two great commandments were to love God and to love our neighbor. In Matthew 22:34–39, a Pharisee, who was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him. “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Jesus taught his followers their mission of serving God and healing their fellow man. His expression of the Christ, his spiritual identity at one with his Father-Mother God, enabled him to prayerfully feed, teach, and heal others. He showed us that loving our neighbor is a natural thing to do if we love God. Mary Baker Eddy writes, “We should measure our love for God by our love for man; …” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 12).
Jesus often shared concepts with the people through parables. One meaningful parable he told was that of a man who had been robbed and wounded by thieves, and left half dead in the road while a priest and a Levite passed by (see Luke 10:25–37).
When blessing others, we inevitably serve God.
Then a Samaritan stopped and compassionately bound up his wounds, took him to an inn, left some money, instructed the innkeeper to take care of him, and promised that when he returned that way, he would pay the rest that was owed. It was clear the Samaritan moved past differences of tribe, ethnicity, and culture. Instead of withdrawing from the jarring picture of the injured man, he not only engaged with the man, but he followed through in helping him. This parable clearly shows that it is compassionate and healing love for others that we are to express, and that truly shows our love for God.
When blessing others, we inevitably serve God, and God guides us into the ways in which we can be a blessing. Spiritual sense is the key in overcoming troubling material conditions. It is more than a mood or feeling. Spiritual sense, responding to divine direction, is clear, not ambiguous.
God prepares the way for a right desire to bless mankind through the expression of Love, God, as Jesus loved. Mrs. Eddy says in her Miscellaneous Writings: “The Christian Scientist loves man more because he loves God most. He understands this Principle,—Love” (p. 100).
In Psalm 61, the Bible speaks about a rock that is a refuge and shelter: “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy” (verses 1–3).
I like to think of this rock as a metaphor for the spiritual refuge we all have in Christ, Truth, a tower above all sin and discord, giving strength that is available to all. The definition of rock in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures reads in part: “Spiritual foundation; Truth” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 593).
Through the Christ, God’s great love reaches all who seek a better way to live and act, opens consciousness to love more, and alerts us to the falsity of evil’s machinations. The illusion that evil can control us involuntarily can be broken by the Christ-spirit, that which redeems and saves.
The Monitor, in working to “injure no man, but to bless all mankind” (Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 353), has continued to inform my prayers for myself and others. One regular feature I value is “People Making a Difference,” which profiles philanthropic individuals working to help others all over the world. Unselfish prayer that is based on an understanding of God’s supremacy is philanthropy in the highest sense.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, established the Monitor and knew the power of unselfed love. She says in her Miscellaneous Writings on page 238: “What has not unselfed love achieved for the race? All that ever was accomplished, and more than history has yet recorded. The reformer works on unmentioned, save when he is abused or his work is utilized in the interest of somebody. He may labor for the establishment of a cause which is fraught with infinite blessings,—health, virtue, and heaven; but what of all that? Who should care for everybody? It is enough, say they, to care for a few. Yet the good done, and the love that foresees more to do, stimulate philanthropy and are an ever-present reward.”
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