May 21, 2014

Webster defines it as: “Freedom from hypocrisy, disguise or false pretense.”  Synonyms include authenticity and genuineness.

Have you ever asked yourself if your life reflects your sincerely held beliefs?  We imagine that if we agree with it (whatever “it” may be), there must be some evidence of that in our lifestyle.  That’s what “walk the talk” means.  Would you be surprised if you found out differently?

The first line of The Lord’s Prayer, Our Father which art in heaven, is a pretty good test case.  Our Father means your Father and my Father – that’s pretty easy.  But it also means the Father of those with whom we disagree, even those we hate.  It means the Father of those in other countries and of other religions, or no religion.  It means the Father of the most abhorrent criminal and the most terrible despot.  Do we actually believe that?  Do we treat others – even those we don’t know – as our brothers and sisters, children of the same Father?

Whatever shifts we need to make in our lives and even our thoughts will occur naturally as we hold ourselves accountable to who we say we are.  And even greater progress will be made as we hold ourselves accountable to who God says we are!  He has the final word, doesn’t He?

Here are just a few things the Bible says that God knows about you:

  • That you are His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26,27)

  • That you are His sons and daughters (1 John 3:2)

  • That you have eternal life (John 17:3)

  • That you are blessed (Matthew 5:3-11)

  • That you are perfect just like He is (Matthew 5: 48)

If you were to live your life as if you actually believed these things – lived in sincerity with these Bible truths – how different would your experience be than it is now?  Give it a try – don’t you think it’s worth knowing?

Mary Baker Eddy says, “A deep sincerity is sure of success, for God takes care of it.”  (Miscellany p. 203)  What better promise do we need than that?

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.

Sometimes we do things.  They’re not us – at least we don’t want them to be us.  But we do them, we regret them, we don’t mean for them to be who or what we are.  Yet, there they are for all to see and remember.  And in remembering those sometimes awful things, we forget about all that really is good and pure and hopeful.  We – and those who remember with us – think we are those awful things, and the truth of our being and nature becomes opaque.

But those moments of unkindness or uncertainty or insensitivity or (fill in the blank) are just snapshots and not the whole movie – even if the snapshot feels feature-length (or someone else tells you it is)!

Jesus said, in what has become known as The Lord’s Prayer, forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  (Matt 6:12)  I don’t think he was talking about financial transactions.  He knew that the human tendency is to focus on the problem.  But a good solution never comes from that.  The best results happen by looking away from the issue.  This enables thought to be more expansive and fresh.

And so it is with our life snapshots.  As with any photo, it never tells the whole story, even if it records a moment – or moments – in time.  The whole story is told by God.  And learning more about what God is saying helps to redeem those moments that seem ungodlike.   The Bible says that “God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”  (Gen 1:31)  If we look away from our snapshots or even greater spans of time, into that view God holds of “very goodness,” aren’t we bound to see ourselves and others differently?  And isn’t that new, higher view a wonderful standpoint from which to forgive?

Back to Jesus’ prayer: you’ll note that he didn’t just ask his Father to forgive us, but required us to have some skin in the game too.  He said as we forgive our debtors.   That means that we must participate in the process by relinquishing the negative snapshots we hold of ourselves and others, removing them one by one from our mental photo albums.  Doing so lets in a whole lot of divine light which wipes away the hurt and fear and resentment.  And aren’t we ourselves better people when we’re not filled with such darkness?

We can – we must – do this for each other.  Even if it seems hard, or impossible.  Because it’s the only way to move forward into real life, real happiness.

Mary Baker Eddy adds a little postscript to that line about forgiveness from The Lord’s Prayer: she says that to her it means that Love [another name for God] is reflected in love.  (Science and Health p. 17)  Sweet and simple.

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.

The Widow’s Mite

May 9, 2014

There’s a great story in the Bible book of Mark about a poor widow who puts a much larger proportion of her income into the church offering basket than those of greater means.  (Mark 12:41-44)  Jesus makes sure to point this out to his disciples.  While it’s important to be as financially generous with one’s faith community or favorite charitable organizations as one can be, that’s not what this post is about.

Giving money away to those who can use it to better this world is a great thing.  But there are powers greater than money for making improvements in how things operate.  Your time is one of them.  Are you an active volunteer for the causes you love?  I’m not suggesting that you spread yourself thin doing something for everyone.  But if you love your church, are you actively serving in it?  If you agree that homelessness or clean water or animal rights or children’s issues (or any other number of pressing social needs) are important, are you actually spending some of your precious and limited time doing something to make a difference?  Are you giving at least a widow’s mite of time to show you care?

Prayer is another way to be actively involved.  Praying about all of these heart-rending concerns can help to open your eyes to the most useful ways to spend your time and money.  But more than that, it can help you to move thought towards the hope and possibility of even eradicating them.  Yes, eradicating.  In a universe where God is supreme and all loving and all wise, doesn’t it follow that we must expect the healing of those things that don’t correspond with His nature?  This kind of contribution is perhaps the most important and necessary.  And the most effective.

How are you spending your widow’s mite of time and prayer?  Jesus’ example showed how natural it was to love so deeply and clearly that issues simply dissolved around him.  Nor did he ever suggest that he was too busy to turn to his Heavenly Father to seek a solution.  This is what he taught his disciples, this is what he taught us.

We can do it.  We can spend at least a widow’s mite loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Join me.

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.