"I AM THE DOOR" (John 10:9).
What an unusual way for Christ Jesus to describe himself to his disciples. Why "door"? We go in and out of doors. Was Jesus saying that through his teaching and life-example, you and I can enter in and then live the divine Life as he did? Mary Baker Eddy, a preeminent Christian healer, wrote of Jesus as "... that life-link forming the connection through which the real reaches the unreal, Soul rebukes sense, and Truth destroys error" (Science and Health, p. 350). Now that's some door!
What if it became your mission and mine to be a life-link where "the real reaches the unreal, Soul rebukes sense, and Truth destroys error"? The Bible says God made all of us in His own image, in His own likeness (see Gen. 1:26, 27). Aren't we meant to live as the self-revealing activity of God, as an open door through which the divine nature shines?
Here's a true story about what it can mean to be "the door." Quite a few years ago, my church in New York City asked me to be a Christian Science Reading Room librarian. On duty one Friday, I realized the door hadn't swung open once in the two hours since I'd opened. No one had even stopped to read the inspiring material displayed in the window. Depressed by a sense of lifelessness and inactivity, which suggested this facility wasn't valued, I knew I needed to pray. Jesus said, "Judge not according to the appearance" (John 7:24). Yet that was just what I'd been doing. I needed a higher, spiritual view, one the physical senses couldn't take in. One that only God could reveal.
I'd studied Christian Science long enough to know that human experience is far more subjective than it appears to be. The conditions we believe we inhabit actually live in us, in our thought, more than we live in the conditions. So the place to effectively confront anything troubling is in thought. And prayer, I knew, was a potent change-agent. So I asked divine Mind, which is God, Truth, Love, and eternal Life itself, to teach me more about itself and Reading Room, its spiritual, eternal expression.
Through that prayer, I began to realize that the infinite God has to be the condition and habitation of its spiritual universe; there couldn't be an absence of Life—in other words, inactivity—because Life is God. All is created by, and remains in, limitless, unconfined, immeasurable, active Life.
A dawning spiritual sense revealed to me that Reading Room is more than a physical locale staffed and utilized by mortals. It's really an idea in divine Mind. The human institution we call Reading Room typifies the self-revealing activity of divine Love, ensuring that every one of us, as God's children, has the reflected understanding of our oneness with the divine Mind—an innate understanding of our individual value, purity, permanence, harmony, spirituality, beauty, completeness, security.
Neither many so-called minds studying spiritual ideas in a Reading Room, nor an absence of them, could really register the abundant Life that fills all space. In fact, spiritual ideas, actually fill the place called Reading Room. Those ideas express the truth of God, are one with it, and communicate it, whether someone is reading them or not. The utility of a divine idea is insured by God, and not by the picture of a receptive mortal reading those ideas. Any number in the principle of mathematics does its job, eternally well-utilized, and always present, whether we see any evidence of someone using a number or not. And so are all the ideas of God, divine Principle, always at hand, inevitably useful, never idle or out of commission, simply because it looks like no one is using them. My depression over an under-utilized facility vanished, replaced by a spiritual sense of the presence of Life, its active ideas, and their inevitable fruitfulness.
By now, although it still seemed no one knew the place existed, to me Life was popping out everywhere. To my inward spiritual sense, the Reading Room was jumpin' with the presence and power of God, good. Suddenly, the door swung open. An apparent leftover from the hippie movement walked in. I perked up. A seeker. Yeah!
He asked if he could borrow a phone book. "Oh ..." I said, tempted to disappointment. Then I remembered what I'd been seeing and hearing (understanding) spiritually, and with joy answered, "Sure!" He wanted to take it with him. He'd just talked with a street person who'd been kicked out of her shelter and had nowhere to go that night. She was crying, he said, afraid to be on the street. He thought with a phone book and the change in his pockets, he might be able to use a pay phone near her to make some calls and find her lodging over the weekend. "OK," I said. "Take the phone book, but please bring it back." He left.
There I was alone again. This time, I quickly regained a spiritual sense of Life's active presence right there. When my hippie friend had been gone quite a while, I realized it was one hour to closing. No phone book. No matter. I knew capital L Life, God, was there.
A short while later a man paused outside to admire our window display and, seeing me, came inside. In lovely African-accented English, he asked if he could buy the poster in our window. He loved its message and wanted to take it back to his small town church in Nigeria. I said I would see if he could order one. He thanked me, and went around the sales area picking up magazines and pamphlets. He opened one, read a page or two, then laid it on the sales counter. Soon he piled a stack of 30 prospective purchases on the sales desk, volunteering that his church found good books on Jesus and Christian principles hard to come by. But they had an "honors table" of inspirational literature. Anyone could take one item, read it, bring it back the next week, and take one more. Beaming, he said everybody had already read what they had, but now what a treasure of fresh inspiration he would bring back to his church. He began looking for more.
Just then, the young man returned with our phone book. He thanked me. He'd found a place for the woman for the weekend, and possibly for another week as well. She was incredibly grateful, he reported, surprised that someone cared enough to do this for her. He'd taken so long because he'd walked her to the agency a few blocks away to be certain the phone arrangements held up. I praised his kindness and love and told him our phone book was his to use any time.
As he started to go, our Nigerian visitor returned from the sales racks with another 15 selections. Both men stopped still, riveted to the floor, gaping at each other. Then they yelled each other's name, and warmly embraced. I learned the "hippie" had been a Peace Corps volunteer in the other man's village some years earlier. They'd been friends and together had laid the groundwork for the clothing manufacturing plant, which the Nigerian visitor now managed. He could buy materials for his factory at lower prices in New York than anywhere else in the world, and this was his last night in the city.
Aren't we meant to live as the self-revealing activity of God, as an open door through which the divine nature shines?
The young man asked if his trip had been successful. The Nigerian grinned. He'd gotten everything on his list at prices better than he'd budgeted for. Well, all but one item. He'd looked for good prices on wide-wale, dark-colored corduroy, popular for winter pants in Nigeria, but had struck out. It was in such demand that he needed 200 bales of it. He was disappointed to leave without it.
The hippie started to cry. Then he told us that, as incredible as it might sound, he only had a few weeks' expense money to his name (not enough to pay the next month's rent). He had one asset in his loft that he could sell to help him until he found work again—nearly 200 bales of wide-wale corduroy in dark green, dark brown, navy, and black. The Nigerian businessman was stunned, and overjoyed.
While paying for the 45 purchases destined for his church's "honors table," the businessman was obviously deeply touched as I told him of our own church's offer to give him the poster he'd admired. But he gently, firmly declined saying it belonged where it was, since it had drawn him inside and he'd found so much blessing as a result.
Then one of them said, "What are the odds ...?" And the other scoffed; odds had nothing to do with it. Chance seemed the least likely explanation for the immense good going on. We all felt the divine hand at work. They exited exultantly, arm in arm.
To me, this experience is about being "the door." All three of us were, in varying degrees, engaged in being the door for the divine to enter consciousness, and from there, to be evident in wonderful goodness.
The unemployed young man, despite pressing worries of his own, had cared for a neighbor most people had passed by. He went out of his way to follow a divine impelling through to completion. Though he may not have thought of it this way, he was the open door through which Love manifested itself. He'd expressed the Christly qualities of compassion, selflessness, intelligence, patience, and tenacity required to achieve the good that was achieved.
The Nigerian business manager, too, was an open door for the divine. The poster had caught his attention because he loved his church and felt the impact for good that sign could help him achieve. He loved the messages he read in the literature he picked up and thought of the gift they would be to his church family. Open to being utilized by the divine, both he and his friend were moved by their heavenly Father's will. It wasn't a "thinking-about-the-divine" kind of activity. It was instead living as divine activity—being the living love, the very expression of divine Love meeting the human need.
As the librarian, I'd turned from an external picture of an under-utilized facility to look at and stick to the reality that prayer had opened up for me. I'd accepted what divine Mind revealed as the present truth despite limiting material appearances to the contrary. My thought-door opened to recognize "Soul-existence, in the place of sense-existence," and finding the spiritual unseen to be more real and substantial than the humanly visible, I was ready to "live above corporeal sense and correct it" (Science and Health, p. 167)—to be an open door.
Jesus was the consummate "door" because he lived perpetually open to God's revelation of eternal being, ever open to being used for God's own good ends. And he said, "Follow me." As Jesus' disciples left their personal agendas to live as a "door" for the divine, so can we. It's our turn now.
It's not too grand for you, any more than it was for that young man, the Nigerian businessman, or for me as a Reading Room librarian. Why? The I am in "I am the door" can be seen as God, the only real I am. He's your true Life and Mind, just as he was to Jesus, and you're God's self-revealing activity—the way He expresses Himself. For God, you're it! This is what you're eternally called to realize. We all are.
Jon Benson and his wife, Judith, and their daughter live in Los Angeles, California. Both Jon and Judith are Christian Science practitioners.
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