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Spiritual development

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I'VE been intrigued to see the number of books and films that trace mankind's evolution and humanity's developing physical appearance and capacity. This is certainly a popular subject, and the presentations are often very interesting. But there's another kind of development that isn't given nearly as much prominence, and that's the cultivation of the spiritual qualities that make our lives genuinely progressive and fulfilling. What would it be like if we could see everyone continually becoming wiser, stronger, gentler, more just? Such a prospect can be more than a beautiful abstraction. It's a possibility for everyone. We each can express intuitive, innovative--indeed revolutionary--qualities that transform our experience as we cultivate them.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes, ``The true theory of the universe, including man, is not in material history but in spiritual development.''1

Where, then, are we to start if we want to develop from this spiritual basis? Wouldn't it be from the Bible standpoint that God made man in His own image and likeness? Our ever-growing expression of the divine nature helps bring to light, more and more, what is already and eternally true of man as God's likeness. This is progress in its deepest sense, in which we're not so much becoming something as we are awakening to our true being.

The Bible tells us about the possibilities of spiritual growth and development. Behind the narratives that often seem to focus on conflict and struggle, we can see the quiet emergence of spiritual qualities. Sometimes it's described as God's appearing to someone. And new strength or courage or spiritual affection invariably follows, not only for the individual concerned but often for others through that individual.

Each time we embrace and express one of these God-derived qualities, more of God's nature is appearing to us, just as it did to the Bible characters. And we're seeing more of our own true nature. How can we make this happen more often and more surely? We can't ``make'' it happen, of course, but we can cultivate through prayer the calm receptivity that invites inspiration and is quickly responsive to it.

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