"Go climb a tree!" That suggestion, usually made in exasperation, was common when I was young. Later this was altered by frustrated folks to "I could climb a wall!" Why they were seeking higher altitudes when confused or addled became clearer when I grew older. I found that as events made life confusing, the urge to gain perspective was not a bad one. Yet, since climbing trees or walls made little sense, what to do?
The Holy Bible is helpful along these lines. Heights are repeatedly mentioned in it to symbolize elevated thought. The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes, both foundational to Christianity, were spoken to man by God on mountains. There is good reason to look up, and better still, to climb (mentally) for a higher view.
One Bible character who did this was Zacchaeus (see Luke 19:1-10). He was a tax collector for the Roman government. He had become wealthy and probably enjoyed being "in" politically. But, in his thinking, Zacchaeus must have felt something was missing. When Christ Jesus visited town, Zacchaeus was inspired to see him and climbed a tree to do so. The result? Jesus saw him and invited himself to dinner. You might say the spirit of elevated thought that Zacchaeus expressed resulted in his welcoming the Christ (expressed by Jesus) into his house, or thought.
This is a wonderful example for one not entirely satisfied today, who seeks a view of higher ground that trees and walls don't afford. Jesus is no longer here, but the truth he knew, and which Zacchaeus sought, is.
There is a companion book to the Bible, a book of inestimable value, called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It was written by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science -- the Science behind all that Jesus taught.
Jesus, the Son of God, had just what Zacchaeus sought. When Zacchaeus accepted the influence of God into consciousness, Zacchaeus vowed to make restitution to those he had preyed upon and to pursue a better life. The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible states that Zacchaeus "became a disciple of Christ" (p. 1010).
As anyone's thought is elevated spiritually, the limitations of evil -- immorality, disease, decrepitude, and so forth -- fade.
Today wall and tree climbing seem to be the inevitable results of frustration and tension. There are a host of ways -- generally physical -- by which people seek relief. But it is often the conclusion, unfortunately, that the problems of this modern world must be tolerated.
How different -- and beneficial -- is the outlook of Christian Science in explaining the significance of the Zacchaeus experience. For example, "Higher hope" is a marginal note on page 531 of Science and Health. Elaborating on this, Mrs. Eddy wrote, "The human mind will sometime rise above all material and physical sense, exchanging it for spiritual perception, and exchanging human concepts for the divine consciousness. Then man will recognize his God-given dominion and being." Simply put, healing will result from our understanding the truth of God.
I would have enjoyed meeting Zacchaeus, and thanking him for his rather unconventional way of viewing the Saviour and for the lesson brought to light in his impetuosity. He must have been an individualist, when you consider he was a well-known man who was found climbing a tree, eating with a potential antagonist of the Roman Empire (which was his employer), and -- most drastic -- becoming a follower of Jesus. He was not afraid to follow his heart.
I, like Zacchaeus, have sometimes been looking for a better, higher way. Then, I have sought God, through the teachings of Jesus, and learned more of the fact that I am good and that perfection is my birthright. No more is it necessary, I have found, to worry.
For he that will love life, and see
good days, let him . . . eschew evil,
and do good . . . . For the eyes
of the Lord are over the righteous,
and his ears are open
unto their prayers.
I Peter 3:10-12