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At least do no harm.

February 28, 2013

Although those exact words are not in the Hippocratic Oath, the intent is there.  It’s called non-maleficence and, in essence, it means be sure you’re not making things worse.  It seems that directive could apply to a lot more of life than just the practice of medicine.

What if there were a solution that not only didn’t make things worse, but actually made them better – in every category of existence?  I’m talking about prayer.

Humbly seeking God’s will tends to lift thought above the issue to a divine perspective, where a solution can be seen and applied, blessing one and all.  This is useful, not only in dealing with our own concerns, but in our prayers for others, our community, nation, and world.  And there are no negative side effects from this kind of activity.  Reaching out to our heavenly Father brings a sense of peace.  And once fretting is dissolved, it’s easier to see an answer that’s hopeful.

Of course, this actually requires something of us: that we commit to responding to what’s going on around us through prayer.  Because not praying could actually be contributing to making things worse.  Really.  As the saying goes, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

How does that work?  Prayer helps us to challenge the event or circumstance or issue from a spiritual perspective: to seek a higher viewpoint where God’s tender loving care makes healing answers plain.  Doesn’t it follow then, that if you’re not challenging the scenario, you’re agreeing with it?  And therefore settling for the reality of the discord or inharmony?

Jesus taught something different.  He never said, “just learn to live with that withered hand and that issue of blood.”  Or, “we can’t pay those taxes, oh well.”  Or, “thirty-eight years is too long to overcome.”  Or, “how should I know where to hold the Passover?”  Or, “we’re supposed to feed how many?”  He prayed, and he got solutions.  And he expected his followers to pray and get solutions.  And not just for themselves, but for all.

Let’s make sure then, that not only are we not doing harm, we’re doing good.  That we’re lifting up ourselves, our neighbors, and our world in clear and loving prayer.  And we’re expecting results: blessing, hope, healing for one and all.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Influenced? Who me?

February 21, 2013

What are you under the influence of?  No, I don’t mean drugs or alcohol.  I mean thought influences.  Maybe you’re not even aware of them – the viewpoints and outlooks swirling around in the mental atmosphere.  Strong opinions, world beliefs, so-called facts – all competing for your attention.  And often, without even being aware of it, you’ve agreed with them and are living your life in a way that accepts them as true.

For example, if you believe the earth is flat you are not likely to get on a boat that sails beyond the horizon.  Okay, so that’s not really a current issue but it certainly illustrates how accepting faulty information as true can severely limit your life.

The world will certainly tell you who you are: old, fat, ugly, poor, unhappy, sick.  And that same world will sell you a surgery, or injection, or location, or device, or scheme to make you fit its very limited viewpoint.  And to the extent that we buy what the world is selling, we’re being influenced by that same unhealthy, unkind viewpoint – all likely to no avail.  Is that really what salvation is?

Jesus said, “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  (see John 16:33)  He wasn’t just reporting on some interesting thing he’d accomplished.  He was making plain that he’d paved the way for his followers to do the same.  For he had already promised, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also.”  (see John 14:12)  Our Master gave us the tools and the example.

As the beloved disciple explained, “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.”  (see 1st John 4:1)  God’s spirits – or divine directives, which is a more modern interpretation of the phrase – always serve to uplift, move forward, heal, and bless those who follow them.

So, what is influencing you?  The stories of a world which can’t really satisfy or save – and which Jesus proved to be false.  Or the Word of God, which Jesus lived and expected us to do the same.  You really do know the difference.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science Practitioner in Salem, OR, USA.  For more information about her, or additional articles, click here.

Who is your advisor?

February 14, 2013

You can put almost any question or concern out on Facebook or Twitter and get a whole plethora of solutions.  What you select may be based on who suggests it, or how it compares with what you already had in mind.  That probably works pretty well for a lot of things.  Where do you get your car fixed?  What do you think of that new restaurant?  Any recommendations for a stylist?

What about moral and spiritual advice?  I love how Solomon answered God: “I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.  Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”  (see 1st Kings 3:7,9)  Solomon’s request was granted, and he confirmed it when he wrote, “they that seek the Lord understand all things.” (Prov. 28:5)

Jesus proved that statement.  He said “as my father hath taught me, I speak these things.”  He was so clear about God’s consistent loving presence, power, and guidance – and equally clear of his own mission to do only that which God directed – that he could say without a doubt “I do always those things that please him.”  (John 8:28,29)

The Master explained the correlation this way: “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  (Matt 5:33)  In other words, what can be withheld from you when you are putting God above all else.

Mary Baker Eddy, theologian – preacher – author – and healer, understood (and proved) Deity’s direction to be always reliable when she wrote, “Take no counsel of a mortal, even though it be your best friend; but be guided by God alone.”  (Miscellaneous Writings page 236)

Seeking or giving counsel to one another, even though it be with the best of intentions, is little more than good human advice unless it is based solidly on the Word of God.  Attuning one’s thought to hear that Word is best done in prayer. Yearning as David did when he asked, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me,” strives to set aside personality, pride, fear and opinion, which muffle our spiritual ears.

Solomon’s directive covered all the bases: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  (Prov 3:5,6)  That’s the best advice, ever!

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practioner in Salem, OR.  You can read additional articles by clicking here.

Above Reproach

February 7, 2013

In the eighth chapter of John is told the story of a women brought to Jesus who was “taken in the very act” of adultery.  The Master, when asked whether she ought to be stoned, simply suggested that her accusers should examine themselves first.  After they dispersed, each convicted by his own conscience, Jesus gently told the woman “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

Jesus saw the woman as above reproach – that is, without shame or disgrace.  Even though the evidence was clearly against her, and her accusers had every right to proceed with their attack, he was looking at something different.  What did he see that they missed?

Growing up in Sunday School, I was taught to condemn the sin but love the sinner.  That’s certainly an important first step but it doesn’t go as far as Jesus did in his assessment of the woman.  What he told her to do next gives us a clue as to his viewpoint: he said, go and sin no more.  He didn’t say “try not to sin” or “sin only a little bit.”

Did he give her an impossible task?  If he had believed that she – and we and all – are inherently sinners, then yes.  She would have been unable to obey his command.  But Jesus knew what his Father knew: that man (both male and female) are created in His image and likeness, as it says in Genesis. (see chapter 1:27)

To be fair, to actually live out that divinely inspired proclamation is very hard work, and we will likely struggle mightily to succeed.  But the fact is, that Christly message is still valid today: neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.  In other words, I hold you above reproach: live your life as if you understand that.

The Apostle Paul had another way of putting it: be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  (see Romans 12:2)

This naturally includes striving to hold one another above reproach as well.  However, that doesn’t mean looking the other way when harm is done.   Only be sure not to condemn in error, but instead offer blessing for cursing, love for hate, and good for evil.  (see Matt 5:44)

Jesus’ word and works are not just good advice; they are the pathway of no reproach.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.