February 28, 2014
I’m not talking about what could be called institutional Christianity – the behemoth that doesn’t necessarily practice what it preaches. I’m talking about what might move you – and you, and you – to be a Christian, despite the sometimes negative connotations Christianity has “out there.” I’m talking about the Christianity of the original Christian – Christ Jesus himself.
Jesus is the example of what being a Christian really is all about. His words, his works, what he lived and taught, form the basis of true Christianity. This truest of religions – and I mean that in the broadest possible sense – is not of sect or creed, but of the heart. The Master had the sternest rebuke for hypocrisy and self-righteousness, because they limited the practice of religion to words only. But true Christianity – true religion of any kind – is in, and only in, the life that expresses its original theology.
The Scriptures – especially the New Testament – are full of guidance on that theology: certainly what not to do, but very clearly on what to do. And love is the major part of what to do. Echoing Jesus’ own message, the Apostle Paul says, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Rom 13:10)
There is a yearning in our churches to see more of that Christianity of the heart; to practice more of the teachings of Christ Jesus, here and now, in their simplicity and power. Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of my religion, expected Christian Scientists to have those kinds of churches. She defined church, in part, as “that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick.” (Science and Health, page 583)
Jesus expected his followers to build their churches on the rock – the fact of his Christ nature. (Matt 16:18) If we see that command as merely one of making church out of human personality or human laws, we miss his point. And in missing that fundamental point we commit terrible atrocities in the name of Christianity. Our hearts must, instead, connect with his heart, his vision, his expectation. And then we must go and do likewise.
If this is what you’re hungry for – to live out from a higher, holier, more effective Christianity and not just a scholastic theology – then hold yourself accountable to the words and works of Jesus himself: the true, the only Christ. Doing so, “religion will then be of the heart and not of the head.” (Science and Health, page 140)
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.
February 12, 2014
So says the Apostle Paul in 1st Timothy. But he doesn’t just leave it there. He goes on to add that the example should be found “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim 4:12) In other words, in every area of life.
Paul knew that the best teacher of the gospel is one who lives it, not just one who speaks about it. Today we call that walking your talk or practicing what you preach.
Jesus definitely did that: he was the ultimate man of integrity. Wikipedia says that integrity is “a consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes.” Doesn’t that describe The Master?
Jesus taught his followers through both words and works, how to be living expressions of the Christ he exemplified. He made plain that hypocrisy and self-righteousness were no part of his theology, but loving and healing others were. He held his disciples accountable for learning, living, and proving his life-message. And when they would have gone back to fishing, he reminded them of their commitment: that real love is in obedience.
I consider myself both a believer in and a follower of Christ Jesus. I am striving to have my word, conversation, charity, spirit, faith, and purity (to use Paul’s words) reflect – to the best of my ability – what that means: to show my love in obedience. It is often not easy, and I sometimes fail miserably. But I know that I must keep at it, in word and deed, so that I may be an “example of the believers.” Who knows? Someone may be turned to the healing Christ as a result of my life! There is room for all!
Mary Baker Eddy makes this pungent comment: “Are you willing to leave all for Christ, for Truth, and so be counted among sinners? No! Do you really desire to attain this point? No! Then why make long prayers about it and ask to be Christians, since you do not care to tread in the footsteps of our dear Master? If unwilling to follow his example, why pray with the lips that you may be partakers of his nature? Consistent prayer is the desire to do right. Prayer means that we desire to walk and will walk in the light so far as we receive it, even though with bleeding footsteps, and that waiting patiently on the Lord, we will leave our real desires to be rewarded by Him.” (Science and Health page 9)
Go and be thou an example of the believers. Great blessings will follow – not only for you, but for all.
February 6, 2014
If someone asks you that question, the typical response is to give a location: this part of town, or on that street. The Apostle Paul took a completely different approach when he said, “in him we live…” He was referring to God: in God we live. God who is infinite and fills all space. Wow! Paul went on to explain that we move and have our being in God, as well. Live, move, being. Isn’t that everything? (Acts 17:28)
Think about that. Paul didn’t say we will live, or we used to live. Just, we live. Now. Here.
What does that mean for you and me? To really answer that means getting a better sense of who God is because you can’t know much about where you live if you don’t know the neighborhood! Or as the Psalmist put it, “Lord, thou has been our dwelling place in all generations.” (Ps 90:1)
The Bible tells us a lot about God: that He is Love; (1 John 4:8) and that He is Spirit; ((John 4:24) and that He is perfect; (Matt 5:48) and that He is invariable (James 1:17) just to name a very few.
So if we live, move and have our being in Love that leaves no room for unloveliness, no room for anything that is not Love. Hatred, greed, fear, disease, whatever is not like or of Love, is not like or of us. Living, moving, and being in Spirit means that we are spiritual, not material: in and of Spirit but not in or of matter. Having a perfect God as our dwelling place means we don’t exist or act or express in imperfection: instead perfect God, perfect creation. Unchanging Deity means that life, movement, and “isness” must be equally consistent and good, without harmful change.
The first chapter of Genesis tells us as much: that God made man (you, me, all) in His image and likeness – as His reflection. (1:26,27) In other words, as God is, so is that which lives, moves, and has its being within Him. It’s a very direct correlation, don’t you think?
So, if you want to know more about where you live and how you live, look to the Almighty within Whom you safely and harmoniously abide. It’s all good, inside and out.