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How a Number Taught a Lesson

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

How do you perceive your neighbors, relatives, friends, and the leaders of your country? Do size, age, clothing, and hair color enter into the perception? How about heritage, race, or gender?

The view Jesus Christ had of humanity was far different from that of anyone who answers yes to the above questions. And after years of studying Jesus' mission, the Discoverer of Christian Science concluded: "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" (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 476-477).

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My concept of myself and others was transformed when I stayed in a resort park some time ago. It happened in an unusual way. A number 13 was painted on a post in the ground, in direct view. I immediately thought of moving our motor home, as I did not want to have to keep looking at that number during my stay. Then I began to question my view of 13; it was not a good view. Although the post was sturdy and newly painted, all I remembered was the things I had heard about 13 being a very unlucky number.

I'd heard that in one town, 13th Street had been eliminated, so the numbers went from 12th to 14th. In one hotel I had discovered there was no floor numbered 13. Of course, I immediately realized how ridiculous all this was-the street numbered 14 would actually be the thirteenth, and what was called floor 15 would really be floor 14.

I quickly saw that no amount of fear about the number 13 could ever really alter its place or purpose. In all the universe, 13 has a perfectly good, essential place, which is unalterable and incapable of interfering with any other number. Its place is sanctioned by mathematical principles.

Then I related this to those neighbors, relatives, friends, and leaders. I asked myself if God sanctioned forever a perfect place for each, as His reflection. Was I seeing them this way, or as capable of deeds that could interfere with the harmony of one another?

My answers were already with me, in the two books that I had planned to study during my stay, the Holy Bible and Science and Health. The first chapter of the Bible states that God made man in His own image and likeness. And it ends, "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31).

A number is established by the principle of mathematics to fulfill its purpose. In a much more profound way, each individual must image forth a divinely decreed purpose that is as perfect as is God, the Principle of all. This includes no negative, evil, or superstitious element, deviating from God's plan. God no more gives His sons and daughters the capability of causing harm to one another than mathematics gives any of its numbers the power to disrupt or alter its functioning.

We're not just numbers in a theoretical science. We're each created and maintained by God. To believe in the evil nature of any number is obviously irrational. And to believe that any one of God's children is created to be unlucky-or evil in any way-is impossible, when the laws of God are understood.

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Jesus did not follow any popular belief if it contradicted what was true of God's creation. He did not go along with rules that would stone someone to death for being an adulterer, shun those considered unclean, or avoid a man supposed to be possessed with demons-a very unlucky fellow. Jesus saved and healed them all by knowing them as God knew them. Science and Health states, "Jesus walked on the waves, fed the multitude, healed the sick, and raised the dead in direct opposition to material laws. His acts were the demonstration of Science, overcoming the false claims of material sense or law" (p. 273).

The number 13 represents a landmark in my view of myself and others, because the lesson it sparked continues to waken me from evil views of myself and others. We are forever held in our perfect state, fulfilling God's laws of good by expressing Him.

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