IN the course of our lives we have dealings with a great number of people. In our contacts we not infrequently place people in categories. Having experienced a certain kind of behavior from a particular individual in the past, we may expect the same of him or her in our current or future experience. If a person has tended to be forgetful or selfish, we associate forgetfulness or selfishness with that individual. We may even do this to ourselves, labeling ourselves with an array of limitations and faults. But is it necessarily true that if we have once found a person to be selfish, he or she will always be so? Certainly we can't afford to ignore our own shortcomings or be naive about some one else's. These have to be faced and progressively overcome. But we can go a long way in forwarding that progress if, instead of stamping ourselves or others with certain traits, we strive to discern the genuine, spiritual identity of man.
What is this spiritual identity? Does it have any actual relation to the kind of behavior we can expect from our boss, spouse, or friend? The Bible tells us that man was made in God's likeness. This, then, is everyone's true selfhood. And because God is infinite good, man, as Hisexpression, can only be good. ``Wait a minute,'' you may be saying. ``I can accept that deep down in their heart of hearts, people are good, but all good? I've seen an awful lot of evidence that man is as bad as he is good.''
It's true that human beings can be bad as well as good. But this isn't the actual selfhood of man as made in God's likeness. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, says, ``Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick.''1 And the Apostle Paul assures us, ``Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.''2 The New Testament contains many accounts of the healing works of Jesus and his followers, based on an understanding of God's supremacy and of man's true nature as infinitely more than a product of the flesh.
You may be thinking, That's all very nice, but I'm not Jesus or Paul. No, we haven't yet attained the clear perception and depth of understanding that the Way-shower or perhaps even his immediate followers had. But the divine law underlying the works they did is unchanging, and as we grow in our love for and understanding of God, striving to view others from a more spiritual standpoint, we can expect to see healing results. In many ways we can prove that man's spiritual nature is his true and only nature.
How can we begin to see this perfect man? If we rely only on the physical senses we can't glimpse man's higher selfhood. To cognize the things of Spirit, we need to use our God-given spiritual sense, which we cultivate through prayer and purified living. Speaking of man as God's reflection, Mrs. Eddy writes, ``This reflection seems to mortal sense transcendental, because the spiritual man's substantiality transcends mortal vision and is revealed only through divine Science.''3 Those we come in contact with may be struggling to overcome the faults that seem to be a part of their nature. At the very least, we owe it to our friends and acquaintances to support these efforts. Instead of expecting a repetition of past mistakes, we can reject the notion that mistakes or failure were ever a true, God-sustained aspect of our friends' natures. And we can expect to see their growing strength and dominion as the natural result.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 476-477. 2Romans 8:9. 3Science and Health, p. 301.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:10