Many people are clearly concerned about government cuts in social programs. In some cases cutbacks appear necessary to halt misuse of programs. On the other hand, there are genuine cases of hardship.
The common denominator in the protests against these reductions is fear. Fear of poverty-how to feed the children, pay the rent. Fear that cutbacks will result in a lowered standard of living. Fear that lack will drive people into crime. What an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the concept of welfare and to take a giant step out of fear to faith and to a spiritual understanding of God's loving care for His creation!
One meaning of the term ''welfare'' is, a condition of well-being, of happiness. Christian Science, rooted in Bible teach-ings, reveals man's well-being as constant, for he is God's loved spiritual creation, perpetually sustained by God. He is not, in truth, a deprived, lacking mortal, because his creator is omnipotent, immortal Love. We find lasting security as we have faith in, and begin to understand, this spiritual fact. The Discoverer and Found-er of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: ''One kind of faith trusts one's welfare to others.Another kind of faith understands divine Love and how to work out one's 'own salvation, with fear and trembling.''' 1
The same fear of lack existed in Christ Jesus' time. Roman occupation meant tributes and taxes. Tribute money must be paid on land, and there were poll taxes, property taxes, taxes collected at seaports and at city gates-as well as the annual payment made by all Jews for the support of the temple services. Doubtless many people had a struggle to make ends meet.
Jesus proved time and again that an understanding of God's impartial, universal law of good nullifies lack. He proved that our provision does not depend on material conditions. His needs were cared for, sometimes in unforeseen ways.
Once when tribute money was due, he sent a disciple to catch a fish and find a coin in its mouth. He fed the crowds who had gathered to hear him, when all the food available was a little bread and a few fish. He instructed his disciples: ''Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? . . . for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.'' 2
These were not the superficial statements of someone satisfied with worldly riches, but the expression of Jesus' unparalleled understanding of God and of his deep love for humanity. They were the words of one who proved daily the ten-der provision of God for His children. Whether the Way-shower was teaching, healing, feeding the crowd, or stilling a storm, he turned people's thoughts from fear to faith in God's ability to provide for man.
Today, the citizen worrying about food stamps, the pensioner concerned about social security-and indeed all of us-can turn to God to gain a deeper understanding of the source of man's well-being. Each of us can discover that our welfare is not tributary to the decisions of governments or individuals. As we deepen our faith in God's love, fear will progressively yield to an understanding of God's ability to care for His creation and of our inseparability from Him. Then we'll start to see the limitations and losses of human experience replaced with tangible evidence of God's never-ceasing love.
1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 23. 2 Matthew 6:31-33.m