"Such as I have"

Peter's reply to the lame man asking alms of him and John "at the Beautiful gate of the temple," as they went up to pray, contains a valuable message for all who will give heed. "Silver and gold have I none," declared the disciple sometimes called impetuous; "but such as I have give I thee." And then he pronounced those potent words, spoken out of the fullness of his demonstrated understanding: "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk,"—words which lifted the impotent one out of his crippled condition into a sense of freedom which enabled him to go forth "walking, and leaping, and praising God."

As we ponder this passage, we are impelled to ask ourselves: What did Peter possess which enabled him to bring freedom instantly to one lame from his birth? Was it some miraculous power possessed by this disciple of the Master not common to other men; was it something bestowed upon him by the Nazarene during those fruitful years of discipleship? The answer is found in a succeeding verse, wherein Peter, beset by the crowd wondering at this strange phenomenon, is represented as taking occasion to preach the gospel of Christ Jesus. "And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong: ... yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all." This explanation seems wholly adequate when it is understood that the Greek word here translated "faith" approximates in meaning the English word "understanding." Peter's faith in Christ Jesus as the demonstrator of God's presence and power enabled him to bring release to him who had been in bondage to a false belief for so many years.

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"Such as I have give I thee"! The light shed upon this wonderful story by the teachings of Christian Science makes clear Peter's reasoning and practice. So definite was his understanding of Jesus' mission, so clear was his vision of the Christ and of the perfect, spiritual man, that it was possible for him to perform a marvelous deed, what seemed to be a miracle, but which, in the light of Christian Science, was the logical outcome of the application of spiritual truth. How much greater service Peter rendered the lame man than could possibly have resulted from giving him any amount of alms in terms of silver and gold or any form of materiality! Freedom won through spiritual understanding was indeed a gift from God!

The student of Christian Science knows full well that he cannot give until he himself has acquired. A line in our Leader's familiar hymn indicates the order of procedure (Poems, p. 14),—

"How to gather, how to sow,—
How to feed Thy sheep;"

and makes it very clear that the gathering must be preliminary to the sowing and feeding, for, manifestly, we may not bestow that which we do not possess. The problem then resolves itself thus: How may Christians gain that degree of spiritual understanding which will enable them, like Peter, to set free the enslaved? Mrs. Eddy has made it very clear to us. Not only has she revealed the method, but she has exemplified its application in herself repeating the marvelous works accomplished by the Master and his disciples. On page 505 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" we read, "Spiritual understanding unfolds Mind,—Life, Truth, and Love,—and demonstrates the divine sense, giving the spiritual proof of the universe in Christian Science."

Through the revelation of Truth which he had witnessed and experienced during the years of service with the great Teacher, Peter gained spiritual understanding by which he could unsee the claims of evil striving to hold men in bondage and thus destroy them. What a priceless possession,—the ability to set men free!

"Such as I have give I thee"! If our gift is to be worthy, it must partake of divine qualities; it must be bestowed of God, and expressive of His spiritual nature. Is not God's gift that holy state of spiritual consciousness which, transcending the beliefs of mortal mind and taking no cognizance of the claims of evil, bestows upon them no degree of reality or potency? To the thought filled to overflowing with the light and love of God, there can be added no phase of evil belief. To gain that degree of spiritual consciousness is the high goal of the true Christian. Thus prepared we may, like Peter, offer the best we have; and that best will break error's chains, whatever the outward expression may be, setting the captive free. Our Leader, in her incomparable language in Science and Health (p. 15), points the way: "Self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection are constant prayers. Practice not profession, understanding not belief, gain the ear and right hand of omnipotence and they assuredly call down infinite blessings." And she closes the paragraph with this significant statement: "Without a fitness for holiness, we cannot receive holiness." The Christian Scientist, then, seeks first to be holy,—to gain through spiritual understanding freedom from the "things of the flesh," the beliefs of materiality which seem to beset human experience. In this way, and this alone, can the words of Peter be repeated with equal potency.

Albert F. Gilmore

March 29, 1924

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