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Appreciating fellow church members

From the October 1980 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Joining a church is in some ways like marrying into a family. We love the family, we want to be part of it; but challenges can come in maintaining our depth of love during years of close contact. Similarly, when we join a church, we may at first be impressed by the spirituality, love, and moral courage of some members. Perhaps they have qualities we would like to express more fully ourselves, and so we join with them expecting Christian brotherhood. But as years go by, we may need to guard against criticizing; perhaps there is an unhealed physical problem, or an individual we thought was so saintly has dispositional problems.

A Christianly scientific view of man is needed if we are always to love others in the spirit of Jesus' example. An effective metaphysician profoundly acknowledges and loves the true, spiritual man, God's perfect idea, which has no faults. But he has no illusions about human beings—all of whom have yet to demonstrate fully the divine ideal.

We shouldn't be dismayed if someone who is longing to be an honest Christian is occasionally pulled away from his demonstration of God's goodness. If one is really striving to grow in Christly grace, weak points eventually will be overcome. We must be as patient with others as we are with ourselves. For one individual, the problem may be short temper; for another, sensual desire; and a third may exhibit a driving, unprincipled ambition to get ahead in the world. Often these negative qualities are forms of impersonal world belief claiming to affect us all in varying degrees. Followers of Christ Jesus, whether new or longtime followers, all have their challenges as they strive to rise above the belief of life in the material senses. To realize this is the first step in overcoming criticism of another. And it will teach us compassion.

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