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You can get an app to tell you what song is playing over the loudspeaker.  Or an app to identify what that bright star is – or maybe it’s a planet.  You can get an app to locate where Girl Scout Cookies are sold, or to compare prices on everything from canned corn to stereo components, or to track the distance you’ve run and measure your heartbeat.  All of these apps are designed to save you both time and trouble; to make life simpler and easier.

And, for the most part, it works.

Some things, though, are more useful as an operating system; as a fundamental and unified operational structure.  Like Christianity.

If you’re only “clicking” on Christianity as you need it, then it’s really just a band-aid.  That is, it’s only a suggested add-on to what’s already happening.  It might be helpful or it might just be inconvenient, too much trouble to activate and take advantage of.  But if Christianity is your operating system, then everything you do is governed by its principles.  You can’t stray outside of its basis.

Jesus was the master Christian.  Everything he did was controlled by the Christ.  Not one detail of his existence, or his ministry, or his interactions with others, had a starting point outside of Christianity.  It governed his actions and his words.  It enabled him to heal and to save.  It allowed him to raise himself and others from the grave.

If you’re familiar with the Gospels, you know it took his disciples – his students and followers – quite awhile to move from Christianity as an app, to it being a full operating system.  More than once Jesus said to them “how long shall I suffer you?” (see Matt 17:17 for example).  They spent every hour with him and saw him perform countless acts of healing, they heard him preach over and over, yet they challenged him, and failed him, so often.  But transition, they eventually did.  The New Testament book of Acts states, “by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people.”  (5:12)  They finally understood that Christianity was their very being, not just something they “did.”

We can – must – gain that understanding too.  Jesus said we would.  He stated, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.”  He was talking to you and me.  And what he expected of us can’t be gained through adding Christianity to our busy lives.  Our lives must first be formed by Christianity, and then we can be about our Father’s business, just as he was.

How about you?  Is Christianity an app or your operating system?

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.

…don’t say anything at all.  We all grew up with that directive from parents and teachers.  It’s still practical today.  With all the differing viewpoints on just about everything from politics to celebrity behavior and religion to health and everything in between, it’s become so easy to just put our opinion out there and let the chips fall where they may.  If we offend someone, no big deal.

Jesus had a different idea about that.  He said, “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”  It’s called the Golden Rule and it’s found in the Sermon on the Mount.  (Matt chapters 5 to 7)  It requires of us, even when we have strong feelings about something, to speak in a way that elevates the conversation and respects the other players – whether you know them or not; to temper our words with kindness.

It doesn’t mean that we don’t say or do the tough things that need to be said and done.  Jesus had some strong words and did some very hard things out of the deepest love for his fellow man.  For example, look how he rebuked Peter who had just confirmed that his Master was the hoped for Christ, when the disciple suggested Jesus shouldn’t allow himself to be crucified.  He said, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”  (Matt 16:23)

And that is precisely where we get into trouble today: by acting from our own human sense of “how it should be” instead of from a more divinely directed outlook.  God has bestowed on man useful qualities such as patience, intelligence, courage, meekness – what Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal 5:22,23)  And to the extent that we subjugate our own willful tendencies to these higher expressions do we move conversations and relationships forward in a more harmonious way.

Everyone has the capacity to contribute something positive to every event.  Does that mean then, that we just add fluff when the substance is too hard to handle?  Of course not.  Fluff is not in keeping with the Golden Rule any more than crudity or unkindness.  If it’s our place to add substance to the discussion, we should do it – charitably and with brotherly kindness.

Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, “It requires the spirit of our blessed Master to tell a man his faults, and so risk human displeasure for the sake of doing right and benefiting our race.”  (Science and Health p. 571)  This is a useful guideline for determining both our motives and our process.

Every step, every word, every thought – to the extent that we are watchful and prayerful, and especially willing – can be taken in a spirit of love.  Love can sooth, it can lift, it can compel, it can correct.  It can even heal, as Jesus showed.

The Apostle Paul put forth a wonderful sense of the power and requirements of love in his first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 13.  This version is from JB Phillips:   If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal. If I have the gift of foretelling the future and hold in my mind not only all human knowledge but the very secrets of God, and if I also have that absolute faith which can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all. If I dispose of all that I possess, yes, even if I give my own body to be burned, but have no love, I achieve precisely nothing. This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience – it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.  Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.  Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.  In this life we have three great lasting qualities – faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.

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.

All four of the Bible’s Gospels tell the story of Jesus feeding the multitude.  It’s an amazing story, one which continues to inspire, even today.  The lesson it teaches of absolute faith in God’s provision, as well as gratitude in advance of that provision, is one well worth learning.  And it’s applicable to more than simply having enough to eat.

For just a moment though, I’m changing the details of the story to make a point.  Consider with me this scenario: Jesus and his disciples are on their way to present the Sermon on the Mount.  Realizing it will probably be an all-day-thing, Jesus asks the guys to scrounge up some lunch.  One of them finds a boy who is willing to contribute his five barley loves and two small fishes.  So Jesus, realizing that it won’t be enough to feed them all, let alone the crowd, asks what they think should be done.  The disciples come up with the idea of a lottery.  They’ll position themselves equidistant around the Mount giving numbered tickets to all those gathering to hear Jesus speak.  Every so often Jesus will draw a number out of a hat and the winner will get a loaf or a fish.  Naturally, everyone will stick around until the very end, hoping to gain a prize.

Aren’t you glad that worldly approach didn’t win out?

Nothing Jesus did was left to chance.  No part of his loving care or his healing ministry or his clear understanding of God’s infinite provision was according to limited human standards.  He knew that there was enough good to go around, just like the loaves and fishes.  And just as he didn’t accomplish feeding the multitudes through guesswork, neither did he heal through conjecture.  Jesus was convinced of his Father’s capacity and willingness to heal EVERYTHING.  And so he proved!

We can learn something from watching how Jesus practiced Christianity.  Just as he was sure of the overflowing presence of good – enough to meet every need, regardless of what the need was – we today can count on that same Christianity to provide for us.  The saving Christ is not stuck in some distant time or place, but is active here and now; “to all mankind and in every hour” as Mary Baker Eddy explains it. (Science and Health p. 494)  And the laws of God that were operating then are still in operation today, because God hasn’t changed: nor has His love for you and me and all.

There is no longer any need to imagine that good is dwindling, or harmony is missing, or health is in decline.  Instead, remember Jesus’ own example and his expectation that we repeat it.  There is always enough – and then some.

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.