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TeenConnect: UpFront

Credit where credit is due

From the Christian Science Sentinel - March 2, 2017

From the teen column: UpFront - March 2, 2017

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TeenConnect: Up Front

One thing I heard a lot when I was a kid in the Christian Science Sunday School is that whatever we’re doing, we do it to glorify God. A win on the sports field? A success in the classroom? My Sunday School teachers often pointed me back to this verse from the Bible: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31, New International Version).

I got the concept on one level, because I’d also learned in Sunday School that God is cause and we are effect. Here’s how Mary Baker Eddy describes that relationship in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “… like a ray of light which comes from the sun, man, the outcome of God, reflects God” (p. 250). In other words, we love because God is Love. We reflect intelligence because God is infinite Mind. Christ Jesus put it this way: “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30).

Sometimes, when I accomplished something really cool, I kind of wanted the credit for myself.

So I knew why God deserved the credit: because all the good we are and do flows from God, who is the source—good itself. But I’ll be honest. Sometimes, when I accomplished something really cool, I kind of wanted the credit for myself. I felt like I worked really hard for my achievements. It didn’t seem fair that whatever I did was about God’s glory instead of my own.

I got to feeling better about it, though, when I thought about what I was learning from Christian Science. 

What I really love about Christian Science is that we don’t do things because “our religion says so” or because it’s what we’re “supposed to think.” Christian Science is about the true nature of God, man, and the universe. It helps us perceive more of reality as infinite and completely spiritual—and the implications of that for our lives and the world. Which means that any time I struggle with some aspect of what I’m learning from the Bible or Science and Health, I can pray about it and get an answer that’s totally satisfying and practical. Ultimately what we learn in Sunday School, in church, or from our own study, isn’t about rules or doctrine, but about taking off limitations and helping us feel more of God’s goodness in our lives. What we learn is never meant to control us or hold us back in some way; it’s for the purpose of healing and freedom.

And that’s what happened for me when I really started praying about why it is that I should be OK with giving God the credit instead of wanting to keep it all for myself. I had a big presentation coming up, and not only did I want to do a good job on it, but I also wanted others to acknowledge that I’d done a good job. I really wrestled with this. Like I said, part of me felt that it was natural to take the credit for a job well done.

I prayed by asking God to show me why I wanted to give Him the glory. And guess what? I got the most awesome answer. As I prayed, I saw that when I think I’m responsible for something I’m doing—that it’s all about my own intelligence, ingenuity, or abilities—then I’m also accepting the mistaken thought that I could somehow be separate from God. If I were separate from God, I would have to rely on my own limited capacities, which may or may not be adequate for any particular situation. But when I give God the glory, I’m acknowledging that I have an infinite source, and that I’m always inseparable from this source. Which means no matter how challenging the task I’m facing, I have all the insight or strength from God that I need to succeed.

When I give God the glory, I’m acknowledging that I have an infinite source. This guarantees success.

The coolest part about this answer was that it turned out to be super practical. That presentation I needed to give? It ended up being a lot harder than I expected, and it even involved a change of approach the very morning I was presenting. But instead of feeling frazzled or overwhelmed, I felt so much calm authority. There was an effortless flow to my words and to my interactions with the audience that I’d rarely felt before. And at the end, when I did get some good feedback, it was natural to give the glory to God, because I truly felt that I’d just been a transparency for His infinite beauty and intelligence.

As it turns out, giving God the credit doesn’t have a downside, and we don’t have to do it grudgingly. Instead, it’s a natural result of knowing that God really is the center of being, and that we, like rays of light, have the joy of being His shining.

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