Obedience is so underestimated. As if it would come ever out of style. Take away the aspect of "personal domination" and relink the word with "wisdom" and "time-tested methods". The word "obedience" sounds old-fashioned and out-dated, I know. Yet obedience is everything. This applies to learning any skill and to mastering any art - learning to play the trumpet, to fly a plane, to speak Mandarin, to become a lawyer, electrician, potter, author, cook. You follow the rules as closely as you can and you observe and copy what you see from your teacher, professor, gaffer, or foreman. In order to come up with once own perspective of an art, wisdom teaches that one must first grow into mastering it yourself to a certain degree - and there is no way to come up with good reasons for breaking a rule before you have learned to keep them first, especially when you are under pressure. That is the test.
Tomorrow I will bake a "Tarte aux Pommes" for our family. It is a French recipe and it involves following the rules and using my tools. I do not expect ever to be such a good baker nor do I feel the need to improve the recipe for tarte aux pommes - it is wonderful to recreate in one's own kitchen what others have already established and tested over time, and again and again in their own kitchens. I follow the rules and expect a glorious result.
There is truly not much difference when it comes to the rules of Life. Following the rules and using your tools keeps you on the progressive path and safely on the route to inner peace and meaningful living. I continue to look for rules in spiritual texts, I take note and they empower me to simplify my prayer life and daily experience.
Most often, one of the rules answers one of those questions: What must be done? What is the next step? Is forgiveness always important?
The rules I collect come from the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy's writings, accompanying the Bible. You may start your own collection, and in order to do so, you will spend more time with study and prayer. A helpful tool is "Concord Express" on the JSH-Online Website, and if you want to see the whole picture, get the full concordance to the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy's Writings called "Concord", here.
Rules from the Science of Life
Consult thy every-day life.
To impersonalize scientifically the material sense of existence
– rather than cling to personality – is the lesson of today.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.
Encourage those who are timid.
Take tender care of those who are weak.
Be patient with everyone.
Always be joyful.
Never stop praying.
Be thankful in all circumstances.
Test everything and hold on to what is good.
Casting out evil and fear enables truth to outweigh error. The only course is to take antagonistic grounds against all that is opposed to
the health, holiness, and harmony of man, God's image.
Leave the distinctions of individual character (...) to the Father.
...let us add one more privilege – namely silence, whenever it can
Change the evidence.
Be no afraid.
At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good.
(Christ Jesus’ rule in Matthew 6:33. KJV; Paul’s rules in I Thess. 5: 14-21. NLT; Mary Baker Eddy’s rules in 1902, p. 25, Mis., p. 310; Science and Health, p. 392, 571, 297, 411; No&Yes p. 8)
You receive an unexpected, wonderful gift, thoughtfully wrapped. Or a fabulous bouquet of flowers. A friend, a colleague, a family member is presenting it with gratitude and joy. The accompanying card expresses thankfulness for what you are and what you do. How do you respond?
"For me? Really?" or "You needn't have bothered!" or "You shouldn't spend your money and time on me, honey." or "I really don't deserve it".
Look again at these responses: You will have voiced them yourself or have noticed them from others. Do you see a pattern? It is all about "me", not one word about the gift, not one word about the giver. I wonder how a false sense of modesty, how shyness or a twisted concept of good education can cover for long this quite upfront self-centeredness.
Take the offer of our dignity and worth, our spiritual, safe, progressive being as a gift from God to you. How do you respond? After all, it is a priceless offer to have harmony and peace expressed in your human experience, to have physical and mental obstacles overcome, relationships released, supply demonstrated. Do you accept this divine gift with grace? Spiritual texts often describe the offer of a life in God and from God as a gift. Such as these words from a dear hymn #45:
"For this Thy gift unspeakable,
The beauty of Love's holiness,
We lift our hearts in grateful song
And would be always praising Thee."
I received a few months ago a brief e-mail from a patient describing a challenging skin condition. He was embarrassed by this visible handicap. The common treatment for this inherited condition involved high doses of a certain medication, which he was afraid to use. His question was: Should I have medical treatment or should I rely on Christian Science?
With gratitude for this open door to healing I wrote back that I couldn't counsel him, but that I would like to suggest this: Healing is not an achievement, the result of an effort in a certain direction, but a natural gift from God. The question then, I proposed, should be rephrased: Are you willing to accept the gift of healing?
Taking up the analogy of the gift he wrote back that he wanted to open the gift but didn't know where to find the end of the ribbon. In my second response I underlined that it wasn't so much the question of where to start taking the gift apart but what to expect from the gift itself. As with all kinds of gifts, expectation speeds the unwrapping and in the long run it doesn't matter where you start pulling the ribbon or how you open the gift.
The green light for spiritual healing went on. I opened my thought to listen quietly to a healing idea. It came to me in the form of a quote from that week's Bible Lesson: "In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, — self-will, self-justification, and self-love, — which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death." [Science and Health, p. 242]
I rejoiced in the universal power of Love, embracing the universe, washing away and dissolving by its very nature anything unlike good. A week later I received the note that the very same afternoon the symptoms were suddenly completely gone. A stunning healing to him, an open door for much more to come.
So how do you accept a gift from now on? With grace and joy. And with the only honorable response which honors the giver and gift equally:
"Thank you very much!"
A few days ago our son Vincent was invited to be "a book". A book at "a Human Library" in Berlin. This Danish organization is very special and is doing fantastic work for our time on a global scale. Here is what they do: "The Human Library is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. The Human Library is a place where real people are on loan to readers." (Here is the website for more information). Vincent was invited as "a book" on the topic "A male feminist". Several people borrowed him and entered into a meaningful conversation about equality and political empowerment today.
There is already a tremendously well stocked human library around for more than hundred years. A library with "human books" on the topic "Spiritual healing". These books are people who have experienced something meaningful, often revealing, and have been grateful enough to share something about their lives with the world. Their reports can be read in the Christian Science Journal, the Christian Science Sentinel and the Christian Science Herald. Hundreds of thousands of reports since 1883. These testimonies are chapters from individual books, being individual lives. When I look around in our family, in our circle of friends, when I ponder and remember the many patients and their healings from the Christian Science practice, when I realize how many, many reports of healing I have read over time, I can see that this is indeed something like a "library of Love", filled with an infinite number of books: Lives redeemed, restored, free. Perhaps Paul had something in mind like this when he wrote:
"You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone." (2. Corinthians)
It makes a difference when you acknowledge the resource another human being is to you. It is a fresh way of approaching the wonderful rule of loving our neighbor as ourselves. It gives patience and an exciting sense of vitality to your day when you know that you can expect something divine from your fellow man. It is really so much better talking with than about people. And understand better where they are coming from and what their approach to life in general and problem solving in particular is. Mary Baker Eddy had so much trust in Christian Scientists to live for humanity that she entrusted her periodicals to normal people, not to theologians or people specializing in Christian Science theology. A human library - the real thing. A library of Love to humanity, where anybody can borrow what he or she needs.
It could be an idea to host an event in your local reading room inviting the public to "borrow" individuals who are grateful enough to share something of the healing power of spiritual Life. You might also "borrow a human book" by listening to the audio of someone's experience on the Christian Science Website JSH-Online. This stands for Journal-Sentinel-Herald, the three Christian Science periodicals. The website provides access to the entire archive of articles, healing testimonies, reports, and poems, the latest ones being available also as audio. Something like the one I shared myself, for a start, a healing of a heart condition. I love to think about my own life as a book, and acknowledge every day its real author, its development, its storyline as being written by Spirit. Therefore I truly love reading "human books", honoring the depth and dignity of Spirit in each single individual I encounter.
Someone who lives with the law of good every day is a Christian Scientist, in Mary Baker Eddy's definition. She defines this individual more in terms of practice than profession, and there is a quote where she links a description with the world of writing and the world of books and the spiritual world of goodness, the world of divine Love. She writes:
"A real Christian Scientist is a marvel, a miracle in the
universe of mortal mind. With selfless love, he inscribes
on the heart of humanity and transcribes on the page
of reality the living, palpable presence — the might and
majesty! — of goodness. He lives for all mankind, and
honors his creator." (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 294)
I often think and acknowledge, that every idea in God's world as a universe in itself, complete, creative, beautiful, interesting. I now also like to think and acknowledge, that every idea in God's world is a book. A human library through which we can get in touch with a different, wonderful world. The library of Love. Are you on loan today?
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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