At a time when I felt distant from God, when my lifestyle did little to embody a devotion to spirituality, I found myself hungry to go to church. I had been raised as a Christian Scientist but during college had become somewhat ambivalent about studying the Bible Lessons and going to church. At times I was downright cynical about what I perceived to be the pitfalls of organized religion. But on this particular day, in a city and country far from my home, I longed to feel God's presence.
As I got to church just in time for the first hymn, a man standing down the row from me caught my eye. He was singing with such sincere joy, praise, and gratitude that it was all I could do not to simply stand there and watch him. His expression of praise and love spoke to me in a way that I could understand —that felt relevant. There was nothing ritualistic or lifeless about his religion. The love and joy were palpable. It was obvious to me that this man's communion with God was not dependent on being in that church or with that congregation; he was conscious of, awake to, the omnipresence of God's love. His face was shining with an understanding of this.
That day I glimpsed something I had been hungering for: the true spirit of Church, the living, vital presence of God. It helped me realize the importance of following my inner yearnings and spiritual intuition more fully. It made me want to move beyond the cynicism I felt about organized religion. I began to see that my inspiration (in church or in daily life) is dependent on my communion with God, not on other people.
During the following year much transformation took place in my life as I delved willingly into study of the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. There were healings of depression, anxiety, and writer's block. I was discovering the joy and freedom that come from knowing God.
Looking back, I can see that I didn't go to church that day to find something I didn't already have. I went because I was being compelled by God, by His Comforter, to both discover and understand my inherent spirituality, freedom, and dominion as a child of God. The Bible reveals this spiritual nature of man, who is truly God's own likeness; and Christ Jesus taught and demonstrated what it means to be the child of God. We read in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy, "Jesus demonstrated Christ; he proved that Christ is the divine idea of God—the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, revealing the divine Principle, Love, and leading into all truth." Science and Health, p. 332 Science and Health conveys the full revelation of this Comforter. This book scientifically explains how the laws of God, the activity of His Christ, and the power of the Holy Ghost are operating in human experience. It shows us how natural it is for each of us to discover our God-given goodness, and how an understanding of our true nature uplifts, heals, and transforms.
Mrs. Eddy defines Holy Ghost in Science and Health as "Divine Science; the development of eternal Life, Truth, and Love." Ibid., p. 588 The Bible is full of references to the Holy Ghost that illustrate the development, the elucidation, of God's truth in human experience.
On the Day of Pentecost the disciples gathered together and were of one accord. Their doubts about Jesus' mission, as well as uncertainties about their own continuing purpose, finally had been silenced by the glory of Jesus' resurrection and ascension. They had moved beyond a limited interpretation of Jesus' words and works to the spiritual revelation of God's present power and goodness. The disciples "were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 2:4 Everyone heard the message in a language he could understand. That day about three thousand people's lives were touched and transformed.
It's what we do with
of the teachings of
Christian Science on
a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis that
makes all the difference.
I've often wondered about the Holy Ghost. The disciples' experience on the Day of Pentecost always seemed so marvelous, dramatic, and a bit remote to me. It was the church visit mentioned above that helped me to recognize on a simpler level how God's Comforter is speaking to each one of us all the time.
The disciples didn't just suddenly, and by happenstance, come across the Holy Ghost. Their years spent in following Jesus were filled with individual striving; they had to learn through experience how to apply what they'd been taught; they had to learn how to be more conscious of the Christ presence and then respond to the natural unfoldment of spirituality in their lives.
And so with me, all the ambivalence and cynicism that I felt about organized religion melted away as I became more aware of my own individual relationship to God. The hope inspired by witnessing one man's sincere expression of spiritual worship helped me move beyond criticism of what I perceived as hypocrisy and dormancy in churches. I now wanted to get to know God better; I wanted to share the joy and power of my growing understanding with others; and I wanted to let my life shine with the true substance of Church. In this way only could I expect to see change and healing.
So while church membership hasn't been without challenges, it's been an incredible opportunity for spiritual growth. Being a member of a church isn't what brings us salvation. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, exists to preserve the purity of its teachings, and to promote and propel progress and healing for all of humanity. This foundational purpose does support us, but it's what we do with our understanding of the teachings of Christian Science on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis that makes all the difference.
Deep in the heart of each of us is a refusal to buy into cynicism and despair. It's our nature to hope, to strive, to progress, because of who man is: the unstoppable, incorruptible expression of God's unlimited goodness. The Comforter impels us to exercise our God-given joy, purity, simplicity, and steadfast love. As we each respond to the demands of the Holy Ghost—the Comforter— we'll see our lives blossom; our churches will resound with the praise of God; our communities will feel the blessings.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world,
but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are
freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words
which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth;
comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
I Corinthians 2:12, 13