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'Unless You've Got Rules, You Can't Enjoy It'

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

When our daughter was a little girl, she loved sports of all kinds, particularly basketball. One day she went with her school friends to play a game. The coach couldn't be there. She said they didn't enjoy playing the game very much that day. We asked her why, and she replied, "Unless you've got rules, you can't enjoy it." She was already learning that obedience to rules brings satisfaction.

This certainly applies to the rules connected with God's law, some of which are summed up in the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:3-17). Obedience to God's law brings true happiness.

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Our daughter grew up to be really fond of basketball, and she eventually played the game at the national level. She subsequently taught the game professionally at the school where she had first learned to play. About the same time she was learning the importance of obedience to rules, she came into the room singing. The house rang with the merry sound of her sweet little voice. "What are you so happy about?" I asked. She looked puzzled. "I didn't know you had to have a reason to be happy," she replied. Happiness flows naturally from obedience to God. That's because we are each God's reflected image, and as such we love to obey His law.

In obeying the First Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," for example, we can see that it is natural not to make gods of smoking, drug taking, or gambling. In reality, they don't have power to control us, because God is the only real power. One of the other commandments is "Thou shalt not commit adultery." This relates to anything that would try to adulterate our pure thinking, claiming that God did not make us perfect, as He is. In an absolute way, it also means that God could not create us with the capacity to adulterate what He causes to be. After all, God cannot know or create anything evil or false.

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, discovered that understanding the law of God, which she named Christian Science, heals all forms of discord. One of the leading statements of Christian Science she made is known as "the scientific statement of being." It can be found in the textbook of Christian Science, and it opens with the sentence "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 468). Matter is a synonym for mortal, ungodlike thinking. There is "no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance" in ungodlike thinking, which is really a form of disobedience.

The commandment "Thou shalt not steal," as another example, indicates that God doesn't give us the capacity to take anything that belongs to another. There are many forms of stealing. To tell a lie about someone aims at stealing his or her character. But as Christ Jesus demonstrated, and as Christian Science elucidates, we're each God's pure reflection. We can't actually steal what is true about another through lies or misrepresentations concerning a son or daughter of God.

Another commandment says, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." As the spiritual idea of God, who is the divine Principle of the universe, you do not in reality have the capacity to see another as sick, dishonest, or impure in any way. You can see only what God sees-health, purity, integrity.

There is debate these days about whether a person is born disobedient and destructive or learns to be so in growing up. In fact, we are born of God always. In His eyes, we are perfect now and eternally, without the ability to be disobedient or destructive, or to bear false witness against anyone.

Recently President Clinton held a conference on volunteerism in Philadelphia. Three other former American presidents were there. Retired Gen. Colin Powell, who led the conference, spoke of discipline and structure as necessary in the upbringing of children. There is no higher discipline than that of exercising one's natural obedience to God's laws, from which flow freedom, happiness, and healing.

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