Progress: taking our cue from the Scriptures
"The Bible is the ultimate guidebook for those seeking a new kind of thinking."
Einstein Is Reported to have said, "One cannot solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that gave rise to it." In other words: think new thoughts.
In the new millennium, a new kind of thinking can be expected. It will be inspired by man's continuous desire for greater freedom. Freedom throughout history shoves thought to venture outside "the same kind of thinking," and that is progress.
Another man who told people to think new thoughts was Moses. His people had a problem. They had forgotten their covenant with the one God, the covenant their forefather Abraham had learned and promised to obey. They took on the gods of the Egyptians, to whom they were now slaves. After freeing his people, Moses told them they must forsake worshiping many gods, and he presented them with a whole new way of thinking that would solve their problems — the Ten Commandments. With these, the moral and spiritual progress that had ESSAY CONTEST started with Abraham's revelation of one God could continue.
Moral and spiritual history is in the Bible. And the story of moral and spiritual progress can be considered as man's quest for what the Israelites might have called the "Promised Land," for what Jesus termed the kingdom of heaven, and for what we might call just heaven or ultimate freedom — mental and physical. There are lessons to be learned and principles of thinking and acting that have to be adhered to in order to arrive at this destiny. The Bible — its teachings, characters, and parables — is the handbook for surviving those lessons and learning those principles. No doubt, here is the ultimate guidebook for those seeking a new kind of thinking — moral and spiritual — that brings freedom for all mankind.
If we want to take the journey of moral and spiritual progress, won't we be learning the same lessons the children of Israel had to learn?
In the new millennium, then, there are two areas from which we can foresee our moral and spiritual progress: (1) an understanding of the Bible, and (2) a love of God. The Israelites, the "chosen people," already embarked on this moral and spiritual journey. Their progress waxed and waned, depending on their fidelity to the Commandments. The Bible says, "I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God" (Isa. 43:12).
If we want to take the journey of moral and spiritual progress, won't we be learning the same lessons the children of Israel had to learn? All the temptations, trials, battles, trust, and rejoicing await us as we each individually take up the trail.
For example, Abraham learned that there is one God and that he must love God above all else. The story of Jacob teaches us how to put self aside, become humble, and reconcile with our brother. Then there are Samuel, Joseph, and the other prophets, characters, and parables. These individual's preparation for moral and spiritual progress required the same kind of qualities as it does today to be "chosen people," to know God. Mary Baker Eddy, in her bestseller, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, says of Moses that he is "the proof that, without the gospel, — the union of justice and affection, — there is something spiritually lacking . . ." Science and Health, p. 592).
Moses encouraged his people toward freedom. They were often afraid, doubtful, even wanting to turn back. Similarly, we too often have the tendency to give up our freedom. We'd like to solve problems by turning to human solutions and saying, "Give me a law to protect me, give me someone to cure me, give me money to secure me, give me a true love to fulfill me." These desires may point to noble goals, but to progress beyond the problems inherent within each of these statements (i.e. victimization, sickness, lack, loneliness), we cannot solve the problem with "the same kind of thinking that gave rise to it." Otherwise, like the Israelites, we gradually become slaves to our problems.
Our prayers are a lifeline to take us out to meet the challenges we see in the world.
Such challenges are our opportunity to progress morally and spiritually. We can turn to solutions found in the Bible and to a supreme law that is totally opposite from human beliefs — God's law. Jesus instructs us to do this. He says: "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind," and "Love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matt. 22:37, 39). Mrs. Eddy also says, "If the disciple is advancing spiritually, he is striving to enter in. He constantly turns away from material sense, and looks towards the imperishable things of Spirit" (Science and Health, p. 21).
An explorer once said, "We must lose sight of our old shore if we wish to discover new lands." It's an explorer's way of saying the same thing Einstein did about finding solutions. It is also similar to what the Bible says: "Put off . . . the old man" and "put on the new man" (Eph. 4:22, 24). To arrive at a new destination, we must be willing to shove away from the unworthy activities, conceptions, or habits of our old location.
How will our prayers and initiatives help? Prayer turns us to the spiritual, just as Moses was turned to see God's word. Prayer humbles character. Prayer builds the strength to trust in Spirit. Prayer establishes in us the true report, God's image of the world. Prayer guides us not to be led into the temptation to give up on the true report. Prayer is that promised oil—"heavenly inspiration" (Science and Health, p. 592) — in the twenty-third Psalm with which God anoints our head at the times when a table is prepared before us in the presence of our enemies. Prayer is the win/win situation when we "love [our] enemies, bless them that curse [us], do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them which despitefully use [us], and persecute [us]" (Matt. 5:44). Our prayers are to respect others: to trust that they have the intelligence to discern right from wrong; to trust that they have the love to forgive their trespassers; to trust that they have the desire to be good. Our prayers are a lifeline to take us out to meet the challenges we see in the world. Our prayers are our desire to let God govern us. Prayers are effortless and big.
A friend once asked an audience in the '70s: "Where is your Vietnam? Over there? Where is your Cambodia? Out there? Where is your stomach? In here?" This is a new way of thinking — to realize that our experience is in our thought. Jesus sought to teach the children of Israel that their Promised Land wasn't so much a location across the river Jordan as the "kingdom of God . . . within" (see Luke 17:21).
Our initiative is to watch thought, to turn to the Bible, to love God. Loving our neighbor as the Bible instructs, we cannot go on not caring about what war erupts "over there," what natural disaster happens "out there," what struggles plague "those people." We don't live in parts: my part is OK, your part doesn't matter.
In the new millennium, society will demand a whole answer, an answer that embraces all mankind. The Bible has the answers. Its prophets have experienced the way. God will have the glory of man's spiritual and moral progress. In response to a question Mrs. Eddy poses about the demands of the "Science of Soul," which I think of as demands for spiritual and moral progress, she states, in part: ". . . 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.' 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).
Having "that Mind which was also in Christ" is the way of thinking that solves all problems, and we can foresee this as our goal for moral and spiritual progress.