Long-Suffering, a "fruit of the Spirit"
Christian Science , corroborating and confirming the truths of Scripture, teaches, in the words of Mrs. Eddy, that "all is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 468). Mind decreed, "Let there be light [intelligence]: and there was light." "Without him [Mind, God] was not any thing made that was made."
Christ Jesus gave us many beautiful lessons regarding the perfect spiritual creation. He defined God as perfect when he called upon mankind to become perfect even as the Father in heaven is perfect. He spoke of the good tree as bringing forth only good fruit, and of the pure fountain as pouring forth only pure water. Thus we learn that the qualities and characteristics which comprise the nature of God must be good only.
Paul clearly recognized these expressions of God's nature and spoke of them as the "fruit of the Spirit." Some of these he enumerated as "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." In this classification he by no means intended to imply that these are the only divine attributes; for the individual qualities and attributes of God are indeed innumerable. The seven synonyms given in Science and Health (p. 465), which refer to the one God, may be manifested or expressed through countless individual ideas. And each idea is good, each is constructive, each reflects some phase of God's nature.
Beginners in the study of Christian Science may ponder over the term "longsuffering," which is mentioned by Paul as a "fruit of the Spirit." Such students may have already learned that the manifestations of divine Mind must needs be good only. It here becomes necessary to study the true meaning of long-suffering. It cannot possibly refer to any untoward condition. The word "suffer" as used in this connection does not indicate either physical or mental pain. It does not mean to suffer in our present usage of the word. Long-suffering is here synonymous with the word "patience," the only shade of difference being that it particularly implies a long or enduring patience when under provocation or persecution. It is forbearance in its very highest sense. It does not imply weakness. It may sometimes take the greatest courage, the bravest spirit, to express the divine quality of thought which Paul has referred to as the love that "suffereth long, and is kind." Whence comes long-enduring patience in the midst of offense, when human reasoning would have us resent such offenses or injuries? It comes from the Love that is God!
The consummate example of our blessed Master gives to every follower of the Christ a marvelous inspiration. In the career of Jesus we may note his wondrous reflection of the divine qualities and attributes, that ever strengthened and sustained him throughout his career. For every hate there was love; for envyings and malice and betrayals there still remained the same undimmed light of love, forgiving even more than the "seventy times seven." Besides the active persecutions demanding forgiveness, there was also the mesmerism of indifference to his teachings, which called for great exercise of this divine quality of long-suffering. Notable among these experiences may be mentioned that last hour in Gethsemane when his own loved disciples slept. And, too, it was no doubt the greatest hour of need for human sympathy and loving-kindness in his entire ministry upon earth. In the Glossary of Science and Health (p. 586) Mrs. Eddy defines "Gethsemane" as "patient woe; the human yielding to the divine; love meeting no response, but still remaining love." "Gethsemane," when understood in this true meaning, is a fitting synonym for "long-suffering."
Whether evil be actively and maliciously directed, or merely an indifference to the Christ, Truth, there is need for it to be met and overcome through the reflection of divine Love; and among the characteristics of Love there are none more important than that of long-suffering—"love meeting no response, but still remaining love"!
What a glorified example our Master has given us in the demonstration of spiritual love! The consciousness which reflects such unselfed affection and goodness must surely know, also, a joy that is abundant and a peace that "passeth all understanding." Earth's grief and sorrow, its bitter disappointments and burning tears, are no part of man's consciousness. These are the dream-state whence mankind must awaken. It may be that these phases of mortal mind claim place and power, and are knocking at the door of thought. But the errors that would seek to darken with discouragement and gloom are only transient, and their unreality may be proved effectively and permanently by reflecting the Love which is God.
To-day, among Christian Scientists, there is golden opportunity to let this "fruit of the Spirit" be to them a bulwark of defense against the aggressive phases of animal magnetism. Midst the world's seeming turmoil and human yearnings there can be given to the individual Christian Scientist no sweeter or higher privilege wherewith to express the love of Love than in membership in the organization founded and nurtured by our beloved Leader, Mary Baker Eddy. Here may be found countless opportunities for them to become doorkeepers in the house of their God, that these temple gates may be kept open for the benefit and blessing of all humanity. The sin-enslaved, the world-weary, the suffering and sorrowing, may come in and find the Christ, Truth, that to-day as in olden time comforts, heals, and redeems.
In our organization work there are problems to be solved, just as there are individual problems to be solved. While there are many individual expressions of Truth and Love, these must always be lovingly coordinate. The individual members are in different states and stages of unfoldment in understanding, but in our church work we are all united in a common motive, the work of unselfed love. Pride, bigotry, self-seeking, ambition, jealousy, and envy are errors of mortal mind that come to tempt the children of God, and, perchance, if possible to darken their thought and dim their zeal. These errors confront every individual at some time or other in the journey from sense to Soul. Perhaps ninety per cent of the problems in our church organization are problems dealing with just such errors; for these errors are the persecutors of the Christ. They must be whipped out of the temple.
The Christian Scientist recognizes these errors as impersonal, never as persons. Seeing evil as impersonal, one can go a step farther and see it as unreal. Let us rise up and meet the tempter with the armor of divine Love! The genuine Christian Scientist is patient, forbearing, meek, long-suffering, temperate. Evil holds not one iota of power to separate those who have been enlisted in the cause of Christ. Love is the cement that holds and unites and gives strength. Love enables the soldiers of Christ to go forth shoulder to shoulder as true comrades, armed with the spiritual weapons of a divine warfare.
Within the loved channels of our church organization are the sweetest joys of life's intercourse. One in motive and in unselfed love, Christian Scientists have here the precious privilege of bringing forth the "fruit of the Spirit" in consciousness. As long as there remains a single belief of sickness to be healed, single sorrow to be assuaged, or a single sin to be destroyed, there will be a need for the organized work of the Church of Christ, Scientist. We as Christian Scientists are enriched with the divine attributes and qualities—the "fruit of the Spirit"—in proportion as we give of these riches to others. It is through the church that we find the ways and means of our most effectual giving. Through this organized work we increase our strength, and can wrestle with and overthrow the so-called organized hypnotism of mortal mind.
In our work midst other workers let us seek to emulate the example of Jesus; let us realize that what we most need is to express in our lives the "fruit of the Spirit." In this expression there is no greater love than that which "suffereth long, and is kind." Such long-suffering does not include any thought of passivity or inaction. On the contrary, it is an attribute at-one with the highest courage and fortitude. It is a positive mark of a genuine Christian Scientist. In the Manual of The Mother Church (pp. 46, 47) our beloved Leader says, "A Christian Scientist is a humanitarian; he is benevolent, forgiving, long-suffering, and seeks to overcome evil with good."
Copyright, 1927, by The Christian Science Publishing Society, Falmouth and St. Paul Streets, Boston, Massachusetts. Entered at Boston post office as second-class matter. Acceptance for mailing at a special rate of postage provided for in section 1103, Act of October 3, 1917, authorized on July 11, 1918.