WHEN David, the modest shepherd boy, went forth to challenge the arrogant Goliath, his sturdy reliance on the one infinite God beamed forth in the innocence of his countenance and the calmness with which he met the giant foe. With his understanding of love as the law of God, he encountered and overcame the towering, warlike Philistine, recorded as possessing that which mortal mind holds dear—awe-inspiring physicality, bravado, and a sense of might which is but an erroneous material belief.
This materiality, which Goliath deemed to be overpowering, utterly failed to disturb or deceive the young David, who declared, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied."
The intrusion of Goliath upon the Israelites is symbolical of the suggestions that are constantly presenting themselves to the Christian Scientist. What are we doing with these suggestions? What disposal do we make of each suggestion of error as it knocks at the door of our consciousness? Are we accepting or rejecting erroneous beliefs? The combat is an impersonal one, between Truth and error. David, who stood unalterably for Truth, answered in the name of his God and prevailed. He won the day, laying low an aggravated form of carnality so formidable as to terrify a whole army.
This word "challenge" is an interesting one viewed in the light of daily experience. A dictionary defines it: "To take exception to; question; dispute.... To challenge a person, right, act, or the like." David challenged Goliath, who may be likened to mortal mind, defying the Christ-understanding of the Christian Scientist and equipped with subtle arguments. Daily, Christian Scientists express their gratitude for their understanding of divine law and for the opportunity of putting into action their understanding of this law. As they do so, every argument of the enemy may be laid low, stripped of its seeming power, never to rise and torment them again.
The encounter between Goliath and David was brief. And David's work was not only instant, but permanent. The specific evil influence of Goliath's sinful thoughts was disposed of immediately and forever.
First of all, David challenged the power which Goliath claimed to possess. He was not alarmed by its enormity, nor by its boasting. Because David depended upon the law of God he knew Goliath's seeming strength to be nothing, and immediately destroyed it. His work proved he was aware in a measure that, as our textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, informs us (p. 536), "The divine understanding reigns, is all, and there is no other consciousness."
The question before every worker in Christian Science today is this: Are we challenging error or evil with the same firmness of understanding that David did? If so, it must flee before the truth which is declared.
The builder who is erecting a structure finds it one of his duties to challenge with alertness the material that enters the building under process of construction. The strength, durability, symmetry, of the structure depend upon the material and workmanship. Every detail in connection with the enterprise should be challenged, not only the quality of the brick, timber, plaster, and glass that constitute the building, but also the workmanship of the workers.
If steel be the framework of the building, this material may have to be properly tempered to withstand the strain, and properly dressed to prevent rust. If it passes inspection as being up to standard, it is accepted as ready for utilization; but if not up to specification, it is rejected and steel that will meet the builder's need is substituted. In this manner is satisfaction assured.
How much more important is it for everyone to challenge the thoughts which enter into the building of character! What is the nature of the thoughts one is admitting into his consciousness? Are they thoughts of fear, hate, resentment, lust, greed, avarice, or other erroneous suggestions; or is one challenging these false beliefs and insisting upon the admission of the useful, constructive ideas of love, gratitude, joy, honesty, patience, purity, and such like manifestations of eternal substance? If so, his structure will be a lasting, useful one.
In military operations it is necessary to have sentinels to patrol the lines, so that no enemy may be permitted to enter the encampment. When a sentinel becomes aware that one not clothed with proper authority is about to cross the line over which he is standing guard, he immediately demands the countersign, the evidence that the person approaching is not an enemy. In short, he challenges the right of everyone who comes near the border. Behind this sentinel lies all the authority of his country. Should an effort be made to pass without presenting the proper credentials, the sentry might exert the utmost authority rather than allow an alien to enter the guarded territory. The sentinel's government not only would support him in his vigilance, but would consider him disloyal to the degree in which he permitted the entrance of anyone who had no proper right to be admitted within the lines.
Is not such an event in human experience a graphic counterpart of, what is going on in the mental realm continually? The enemy who tries to force a passage through the lines is but symbolical of the erroneous thoughts which seem ever trying to wedge their way into one's consciousness. It is as necessary that every Christian Scientist exercise vigilance in excluding thoughts of dishonesty, selfishness, envy, greed, hatred, anger, and others of their kind, as that the soldier sentry exercise vigilance in repelling the visitations of the enemy. One's enemies are those "of his own household"—those evil thoughts which he admits into his own consciousness.
To challenge thus means much more than appears on the surface. Christian Scientists, who are especially alert to the importance of refusing admission to erroneous thoughts, realize that it is their right and their duty to question or call to account every thought that seeks entrance. They silently put the question, "Who comes here?" to ascertain whether the thought is of God, and therefore good. And they are not deceived by evil thoughts which come in the guise of good.
On page 588 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy gives us the definition of "I Am," as follows: "God; incorporeal and eternal Mind; divine Principle; the only Ego." When mortal mind suggests, "You are sick," "You are afraid," "You are discouraged," and we respond to these specious suggestions by saying, "I am sick," "I am afraid," "I am discouraged," we are bearing false witness. We are disloyal to God and His law.
How alert one should be to challenge evil suggestions, knowing that to admit them, even for an instant, would be to invite discord. The Christian Scientist must be ready with the challenge, "Who comes here?" Is the thought from God or from mortal mind? If from God, good, then it should be accepted with joy and allowed to be active in our consciousness. If from the carnal mind, it must be bidden to depart into "outer darkness." Thus shall we realize the truth of Mrs. Eddy's words (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 210): "Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited."
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