WHILE I was visiting another country on personal business, it was quite obvious why that land is regarded as one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. In stark contrast to its lush mountains and lovely beaches is the severe poverty suffered by its people. My heart went out to the hundreds of children working as street vendors. Most of them do not know their fathers, and many are homeless. We can easily lay aside an article about third-world poverty or switch the television channel. But when we're confronting dire poverty face to face, it is nearly impossible not to be affected.
I was traveling with my sister, and we both knew of the complex issues associated with third-world poverty. But we also realized that the underlying cause was materialism. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, refers to sin, disease, and death as ``the curse of materialism.''1
Christ Jesus' teachings and demonstrations rebuked the sin of materialism. He turned his listeners to the Ten Commandments and to the spiritual teachings of his Sermon on the Mount. The Bible tells us that he hated iniquity, but through his personal sacrifice and countless healings of people's ills we know how much he loved humanity.
Without a spiritual transformation in people's hearts and minds, money, good intentions, and human effort are not enough to eradicate poverty. An important part of this transformation is a growing perception of Christ's saving revelation that man's real life is spiritual and therefore permanently established in good, in the one God. Then we more readily open up for humanity the opportunity to experience that good. We are, in effect, subordinating the human view of sin and poverty to a higher perception of God and man and to God's mandate of spirituality and abundance for all. This is not to ignore the severe ``realities'' of the situation but to help shed the light of spiritual truth on solutions.
In truth, man is nothing less than what Spirit made him to be, the image and likeness of itself. Our hope is renewed and our prayers invigorated when we look at mankind through the lens of spiritual understanding.
Prayer that is strengthened by such understanding can bring forth a deeper caring on the part of all. Spiritual answers are never outdated. In fact, they are what we most need as individuals and as family members of the same world. Such answers are practical and effective. When spirituality guides human effort, mankind can triumph over the most difficult challenges.
We all have a choice to make. Will we submit to the mental forces of materialism with its selfishness, dishonesty, sensualism, and greed, or to spirituality? If we choose correctly, God empowers us to overcome materialism and its curse of sin and suffering. The spiritual sense of life that is found in Christ redeems and blesses humanity. Mrs. Eddy writes, ``This sense of Life illumes our pathway with the radiance of divine Love; heals man spontaneously, morally and physically, -- exhaling the aroma of Jesus' own words, `Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'''2
As our prayers and actions are moved by this spiritual sense of Life, we will see and be part of a much more progressive world. Our prayers can reach the far corners of the earth and heal.
1Miscellaneous Writings, p. 17. 2Mis., pp. 19-20.
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