A young woman stood looking out of an office window. Below her stretched the city, and beyond circled snow crowned mountains; but it was not at this view she was looking. Instead, human life stood out before her thought like a panorama,—sweet childhood with its glad innocence, womanhood with its noble aspirations, and age with its tender serenity. How kindly it looked,—hope, faith, brotherhood, Christianity, all glowing together! Yet over it all hung the dark shadow of fear and blind belief.
Life had been very sweet to this woman, but now a new experience with great responsibilities was before her. The demand of the hour required a new nature, new ideals,—visions imparting spiritual power. Former ideals and opinions, put to the test, had failed. Though humanly good they were material, and therefore lacked divine power. Was she willing to surrender the established for the unknown, and trust spiritual intuition rather than human judgment? Could she let the old be torn down and pulled to pieces before the new was established?
Just then she heard a great noise. Looking down on the street below she saw a beautiful old residence being pulled down and made over for business purposes. What crashing of falling timber! How the old boards creaked and squeaked as the men worked their picks in and out of the once nicely fitted floors! And with what resistance the staid old place seemed to give up its long cherished materials! Manifestly, being made over was not an easy process; it was full of jarring, resisting, and commotion. With sudden fear the woman yearningly turned backward to reembrace the worn-out illusions of her former life, though still clinging timidly to the vision of the future.
Not until many months later did she emerge from a pathless wilderness to find an altogether different selfhood. Broad and strong were the new ideals now working in her consciousness, enriching and enlarging her life. Standing again at the same window and looking down on the street below, she saw a beautiful hotel in the place where the outgrown house had formerly stood. How perfectly the new building fitted into its surroundings, and how useful it was! “Being made over is a glorious thing,” the woman exclaimed, “no matter how trying the process, or how fraught with discouragement and doubt the tearing down may be.”
Surely all human consciousness is in need of being made over. Its worn-out conceptions and traditions fail to meet the demands of the advancing age. But the spiritual idea as revealed through Christian Science is meeting these demands by tearing down mortal concepts, reconstructing human consciousness, and establishing a sinless humanhood upon the foundation of Spirit and Truth. This making-over process is governed by a spiritual law of progress that leads from the human to the divine, even if in turning and overturning it produces great upheavals in mortal mind; but in the undermining of false beliefs and opinions the human is transformed and the divine is established.
With the coming of the Christ-idea into human consciousness none can escape the process of being made over, for our thoughts make us what we are. A human ideal produces one kind of life, a divine ideal another. In proportion as human concepts give place to the divine our natures undergo a change and our whole outlook upon life is recast. Seeking its true selfhood, the aspiring thought is caught up unto God and carried away in the Spirit, where the divine idea of sonship is revealed and man is seen as an incorporeal consciousness individualized in God, infinitely blessed, joyous and free.
The divine does not adjust itself to the human, but the human must give way to the divine.
This true selfhood is unseen to the senses, yet in its sublime glory it lives in the consciousness of every individual, whether recognized by him or not. How different is the human concept of man! Swinging between doubt and hope, sorrow and joy, love and hate, what has it to offer us? In all its majesty and power shines resplendent the divine idea of man glorifying God; in all its helpless ignorance shrinks the mortal sense of man bowing before matter. On page 353 of Miscellaneous Writings Mrs. Eddy says, “The human concept is always imperfect; relinquish your human concept of me, or of any one, and find the divine, and you have gained the right one—and never until then.”
Lost in the vision of the real, one temporarily forgets all else until, when the flames of revelation die away, he finds that he still has his human self to deal with. Then comes a clash. The material nature wars against the spiritual. New aspirations born of the revelation tremble like the tendrils of a plant; the human sense cries out in agony, pride and egotism rebel, and personality argues for itself, its tastes, habits, and disposition. Standing before these two concepts of man it is ours to choose. We cannot be true to both and live consistent lives. The divine does not adjust itself to the human, but the human must give way to the divine.
If we do not willingly surrender the human concept of ourselves and others, circumstances may force us to do so. If we hold to the spiritual idea, we cannot go backward, because it is impossible to unthink what we once knew to be true; nor can we stand still, for the new ideas charged with spiritual energy force us, whether willingly or resistingly, to go forward. Our attitude determines whether the process shall be easy or rough. If we are unwilling to endure the making over and choose simply to enjoy the vision while still clinging to the human concept, we become lukewarm and lose the positive, dynamic animus of spiritual activity. We then have only an undemonstrable theoretical or intellectual belief in spirituality, which lifts us but little higher than we are.
The human concept of man should be dropped altogether, for not until the God-idea is beheld, loved, and obeyed, do our lives become adjusted to the divine and scientifically correct. Many times with altruistic motives, devoted energy, and sincerity of purpose, students of Christian Science surrender all else to enter the ranks of Christian Science workers. But these human virtues are not divine characteristics, and therefore they lack the spiritual essence of healing. Human love cannot raise the dead. Instead of indulging in enthusiastic and emotional feelings about the spiritual idea, we need to take on the divine nature of that idea and assimilate its peace and power. It is only when human sense decreases and the spiritual increases, only when personality dies daily in the Lord, that the true selfhood is reached which carries with it the power to heal.
Often a humanly good man is loved for his beautiful character. His disposition, habits, association, family, all go to prove his worthiness, and yet in his heart God may be a stranger to him. Subject him to spiritual pressure and we may find a nature far more material than spiritual, a false individuality steeped in fixed opinions and self-righteousness. Lost in the traditional, conventional, and theological ideals, this type of consciousness misses the divine entirely. Such a man, despite his goodness, has to be made over according to the divine concept, even as does the invalid and the sinner. This is why such resistance or indifference to Christian Science is sometimes found among those whom we would expect to be receptive because of their human goodness. Oh, short-sighted judgment, can any one ever be mortally perfect!
In the process of taking on the divine nature much of the joyous enthusiasm which the Scientist may have at first supposed to be spiritual, disappears to make room for the true idea itself, and he may for a time feel shorn of spirituality. This transitional period is fraught with misgivings, discouragement, and sudden changes of feeling. The human with all its latent qualities surges to the surface; it will not be suppressed, and there is many a backward turning. Weeping and wandering in this wilderness of human emotions, we seek again for the Christ, saying with Mary Magdalene, “I know not where they have laid him.” No one knows where to find us, much less we ourselves; but these epoch making moments are portentous, for in this state of human emptiness the spiritual flows in and our natures are transformed,—“born of God.”
It is a matter wholly between ourselves and God, this being made over. No one else can do it for us. Attempting to remodel another after our ideal interferes with God’s law of unfoldment. Rather should we constantly appeal to the spiritual selfhood in others, watching and waiting for it to unfold under God’s direction. Surrendering our personal desires or opinions as to what we should like another to be, and determining to know “no man after the flesh,” we escape the great danger of planning and personally influencing the lives of others.
Being reconstructed according to the pattern revealed on the Mount is not a human process; it is the work of divine law unfolding true individuality. This reconstruction goes on, perhaps, nowhere more actively than in human association. When, therefore, conflicts arise in church, business, or social affiliations, let us not withdraw, but rather rejoice in the opportunity it gives for character building. In the rubbing together of conflicting temperaments and tastes, sharp edges are smoothed off and polished, until we emerge at length with new and purified dispositions, grateful for every conflict. In the grinding process of reconstruction, human nature with all its emotions and impulses is never suppressed. It is first evangelized and then outgrown; its error disintegrates and its good is transformed.
Subjugating and annihilating personal traits, tearing down temperament, moods, disposition, prying up opinionated beliefs and false ideals, the divine concept of man is fashioning a new concept of humanhood. No longer concealed behind personal habits, dress, speech, society manners and ways, a new man steps forth, clothed in all the majesty of his divine individuality. Youthful, joyful, serene, and generous, never swayed by passions, never responding to the impression of the senses, Christianly democratic and universal in nature, this spiritualized man is healing the sick and bringing happiness wherever he goes. This is a true human concept of the perfect, original man; it is this concept which Jesus exemplified, and it is the mold in which Christian Science is shaping our lives.
This remodeling is not the work of a moment; the Christian Scientist is still in the making. But, building for eternity and no longer looking to death for perfection, his purpose is to prove here and now his spiritual identity as the child of God. Rising on “the stepping-stones” of his dead self, he refuses to build up in his consciousness outgrown human concepts, and instead builds “more stately mansions,” each one “nobler than the last.”
Beholding the divine concept of man and letting it shape our lives, we will all come to know ourselves as God knows us, and be made over into new creatures, even the sons of God, that are born, not “of the will of man, but of God.”
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