WHEN Christ Jesus said to the multitudes as he taught them on the mount, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," he stated for mankind the ultimate goal toward which all Christian progress is directed. In commenting upon these significant words of the Master, Mrs. Eddy writes in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (pp. 253, 254), "The divine demand, 'Be ye therefore perfect,' is scientific, and the human footsteps leading to perfection are indispensable." With characteristic wisdom our Leader has accompanied this radical command with the kindly counsel that would make obedience to it practicable. The realization of perfect being is unfolded only through a process of progressive purification, for Truth is received only when spiritual desire has been uplifted to perceive and accept it. One must become meek enough to be teachable, sincere enough to abandon pride of opinion, and childlike enough to want to be a better individual, in order to become that soil in which the good seed of Truth develops most readily.
To one so prepared, Christian Science may unfold the tangible presence of the real man. How astonishing, how beautiful, is this first spiritual revelation! With it a new necessity for progress appears; spiritual desire becomes more active, more intelligent, more permanent.
A question very near to the heart of the student of Christian Science is that which Mrs. Eddy answers so simply yet so completely on page 495 and 496 of Science and Health: "How can I progress most rapidly in the understanding of Christian Science?" In the answer which follows, our Leader has pointed out what is necessary: "Study thoroughly the letter and imbibe the spirit. Adhere to the divine Principle of Christian Science and follow the behests of God, abiding steadfastly in wisdom, Truth, and Love." And she adds, "You will learn that in Christian Science the first duty is to obey God, to have one Mind, and to love another as yourself." How closely Mrs. Eddy follows the teaching of the Master in her answer! It is obvious from the frequency of his quotations and allusions to the Scriptures that Christ Jesus sought them for spiritual inspiration. "Ye do err," said he, "not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." His faithful adherence to divine Principle was never more clearly voiced than in his frequent admonition to love God supremely and one's neighbor as one's self. He taught his disciples by example, parable, and precept to reject the suggestions of evil,—to divide between the qualities of mortal mind and divine Mind; to separate the sheep from the goats, the tares from the wheat, the grapes from the thorns, the figs from the thistles. His whole ministry was rich with the demonstration of the truths he was teaching, expressed in healing the sick and sinful and raising the dead.
A Christian Scientist once turned to this helpful answer for guidance in working out a problem that had seemed to defy progress. He applied its instruction to the best of his ability; but weeks passed by, and the condition seemed no better. Then came the opportunity to help others. With some little fear he began to apply the truths he had been so diligently affirming in his own case, and found to his astonishment that his patients were quickly healed. So completely did this experience prove to him the illusive nature of error that his own problem was soon forgotten in a newly found apprehension of spiritual power. He had delayed the demonstration by his failure to reject the suggestion that the problem was real, or that it even claimed to exist. He discovered, too, the very corner stone of spiritual building,—that in the unselfish effort to help others one's true selfhood is found.
Growth is the expression of activity. Serving is active good; and he who serves joyously and generously grows spiritually, blessing himself even more than those whom he is serving. Because serving is so vital to spiritual progress, no step is more important to the student of Christian Science than that of uniting with a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, and with The Mother Church. In taking these steps he merges his personal desire for growth in the more unselfish desire to assist the progress of the great organization which our Leader established to take unadulterated truth to the doorstep of humanity.
As a member of The Mother Church he learns many valuable lessons of obedience in becoming subject to its Manual. Here he learns the sweet application of the Golden Rule in his dealings with his neighbor. He learns to pray daily; to study the Bible and Science and Health; to subscribe for and read the Christian Science periodicals. He learns to be active in his branch church; to heal the sick; to help reform the sinner. He is provided with the helpful privilege of class instruction and subsequent Association meetings, so vital to his progress. He learns to reject aggressive suggestions of evil, and to defend himself against mental malpractice,—thus loving his neighbor as himself. The helpfulness of the Manual in Christian progress can scarcely be overestimated, for through obedience to its wholesome regulations we approach that state of conscious harmony which is the perfect man,— "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
Each church member must essentially lift up in his consciousness his concept of church, until it has reached the perfect unfoldment of "the structure of Truth and Love" (Science and Health, p. 583). Upon the individual progress of each student in this realization, the growth of the Christian Science movement will depend. Various and devious will be the suggestions of error to prevent him from realizing this truth; but, in the face of every difficulty, nothing may be more certain to him than the inevitable and complete establishment of this Cause. He may feel the same positive assurance that Christ Jesus did when he said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." From the boyhood hour in which he said to his anxious parents, "I must be about my Father's business," until his humble words upon the cross, "It is finished," Jesus maintained an unfaltering faith in the omnipotence of good. He was enabled to finish his work because he came forth from God.
Christian Scientists have spiritual evidence that their beloved Cause came forth from God; and because of this fact they may have perfect confidence that it will accomplish the end whereto it is dedicated,—the complete annihilation of all evil, disease, and death. No influence, internal or external to it, can impede its spiritual unfoldment; for it is God's own Cause. He alone gave it inception; He alone gives it activity and progress; He will provide for its needs,—its officers, its workers, its members, its substance. Each darkening experience will pass over it like shadows over a sunny meadow, leaving it untouched by the temporary gloom. The great flood of good which the Christian Science movement has poured forth upon mankind must steadily increase through clearness of understanding, until the day when "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
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