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To be what’s most needed

From the August 2016 issue of The Christian Science Journal

There’s a saying, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” which illustrates the unfortunate tendency in human thought to assume that an entrenched and prescribed way of doing things can be effectively applied to whatever problem we’re facing. The need, of course, is for an honest and humble willingness to look at any given problem and discern what’s actually needed, rather than to assume from the outset what the solution should be. Who we are is seen in what we think and do. No one wants to be the expression of automated conclusions or habits of thought. The great need is to be giving ourselves to a care so deep that we are always ready to hear and be that new answer and response of love. 

Doctors are gradually learning that the medical protocol that brought relief to a certain disease for a certain patient may not work for another patient with the same disease. The same is true in the metaphysical treatment of disease. The inspiration that brought breathtaking healing to a situation may burn so brightly in our hearts that we may find ourselves wanting to keep using yesterday’s light to deal with today’s darkness. It doesn’t work. The demand is to be what’s most needed for today, not to be what we’ve become most comfortable with or humanly convinced of. 

Conflicts between individuals and nations are too often prolonged because people are consumed with being “right,” and with convincing the other side of that fact, rather than with genuinely asking, “What is most needed right here and now?” Healing through prayer is too often delayed because of a tendency to launch into prayer, frantically affirming all of the things we “know about Truth,” rather than trustingly, earnestly asking divine Love to show us what we need to know of Truth and how we can be the expression of Truth at this moment.

Christ Jesus was constantly lifting the thought of those he encountered out of a prescribed sense of what’s right, into a higher sense of what divine Love was providing to meet the need. When a woman was caught in the act of adultery, the “we know what’s right” crowd tried to ensnare both the woman and Jesus. The offense was clear and so was the punishment—the community was supposed to throw rocks at her until she was dead. What would this new preacher of love and of the kingdom of heaven have to say about the stark requirement of God’s law? It’s worth noting that Jesus’ response was not to say that the moral law was outdated and irrelevant. Rather, it was to show everyone how the unchanging law of Love, which is eternal and always ahead of the times we’re living in, would meet the human need of that moment. He said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). As each accuser looked into his own heart, he dropped the condemnation and self-righteousness he was planning on hurling at the woman in the form of a rock, and left. Jesus’ message—and the power of that redemptive message—was what was most needed for everyone. The woman’s need was for forgiveness and reformation. The men’s need was to discover their capacity for compassion and an understanding of the moral law that does more than just pass judgment, but actually redeems. According to Christian Science, the whole incident was evidence of the divine law stated in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, “Divine Love always has met, and always will meet, every human need” (p. 494).

For all of the complexities of human experience, we’re really talking about something fairly simple—listening, really listening for what the genuine need is and asking how divine Love will meet that need. When we truly listen for that voice, we’re listening for the Christ. And Christ doesn’t speak in the language of human preconception, but with the “just rightness” and unlimited power of divine Love. After all, who would have thought that the most loving solution for the children of Israel would be to wander in the wilderness for forty years after being freed from slavery in Egypt? But their genuine need was to learn to trust God more, and until they did that, no other solution could provide an answer, despite all of the knee-jerk calls of the carnal mind to return to Egypt, where at least they knew what slavery was like. Whether we’re talking about our individual lives or our churches, we can be sure that whatever is involved in our becoming more of what is genuinely needed will involve learning more about how to express Truth and Love, or God, and learning to rely less on matter and material ways of thinking. 

One example of a concerted effort to become what’s most needed can be seen in the current thinking related to the forward steps of The Christian Science Monitor. When the Monitor was founded, there was a great need for balanced, fair-minded journalism that focused a wide lens on the world. By adhering to its objective, “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind” (Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 353), the Monitor was able to be what was most needed—a source of unbiased, thoughtful news to counter the yellow journalism of its day. But what’s the greatest need in journalism today? These days the news and the devices that bring it to us are so ubiquitous that most people are aware of major events in the world virtually moments after or even as they occur. When we think about the flood of news we receive each day, isn’t the great need not just for facts, but light? We need a source of news that focuses on the things that matter, on areas of humanity’s progress, on issues where more understanding can work to bridge divides, on the dark places in the world where the spirit of humanity is needed to uplift and improve a situation. Then, as readers, we can be an active part of the momentum of thought that brings change and purpose to the challenges the world is facing. The Monitor is in the midst of a significant pivot along these lines. It won’t be accomplished alone by the dedicated staff who work for it. Success will demand commitment, energy, and concrete support from all who love the purpose and promise of the Monitor to “spread undivided the Science that operates unspent” (Miscellany, p. 353), to find and testify of the ways good is operating to uplift humanity to see something better of its future than it was able to see before. 

This is just one example of how the Church of Christ, Scientist, with its members throughout the world, is working to be what’s most needed in our world—a healing solution. The old approach of the world was to bring the hammer of material thought to bear on whatever problem presented itself. The new approach, inaugurated by Christ Jesus and made scientifically practical through Christian Science, is to listen for how divine Love is supplying unlimited spiritual tools of inspiration not only to solve a particular problem, but to awaken in us a new understanding of our spiritual identity and heritage as children of God. That’s what’s most needed right now.

Scott Preller

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. 

Isaiah 30:21

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