We've all known them – men of such integrity and humanity that we respond in kind without even thinking about it.
My dad was one of these men. Through years of consistent effort to do right, be kind, and respect others, he grew to be someone we all loved to love. When he passed on a few years ago, friends, business associates, and acquaintances celebrated the uplift his example gave them.
When a man like this passes from sight, the loss seems acute. But a growing understanding of God and His wonderful spiritual creation known as "man," which includes each of us, has come to my rescue. I've come to see my dad's sterling attributes, and those of other fine men, as original to everyone – built in by our Creator.
To me, it's divinely logical that the one infinite God, known by His omnipotence and omnipresence, has made His highest idea, man, to be like Him. Genesis uses the terms "image" and "likeness" to convey this distinct identity.
Mary Baker Eddy, founder of this newspaper, put it this way: "God's image and likeness can never be less than a good man; and for man to be more than God's likeness is impossible. Man is the climax of creation; and God is not without an ever-present witness, testifying of Himself" ("No and Yes," p. 17).
What about those men who don't exemplify this "good man"? I found an answer years ago, when I came face to face with a man who seemed to be the antithesis of Godlike.
"Larry" was drunk, disheveled, and disorderly. Though it was closing time, he obstreperously refused to leave the business my friend and I were visiting. But something impelled me to gently take his hand and lead him outside. We spent the next 10 minutes talking about God – simply, honestly, and lucidly.
The inebriation dropped away as Larry spoke about his love for God. His face was still covered with dirt and abrasions, but qualities of real manhood began shining through. And when the police arrived, he went with them without an argument. They'd picked him up many times, they told me, but this was the first time he'd cooperated.
I don't know what happened to Larry after that. I feel sure, though, that his innate identity in God's image became clearer to him that day. That the same impulsion that led me to take him by the hand continues to remind him of his true, spiritual status.
This Christ-power exists within human consciousness, ultimately raising even the most discouraged or sinful to freedom and purpose. Christ Jesus exemplified it, embodying every fine quality of manhood without exception. Mrs. Eddy explained that the Christ, his divine nature, "made him an honest man, a good carpenter, and a good man, before it could make him the glorified" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 166).
Jesus' expression of manhood sprang from his understanding of God as his Father. He knew God as Love, his source of kindness and compassion. As Mind, God supplied wisdom, insight, and purpose. As Truth, God guaranteed integrity and uprightness.
God is our Father, too.
As we raise our consciousness of what is spiritually true about God's man – and strive to express the divine through genuine humanity – healing of base inclinations or lack of virtue takes place. "What a faith-lighted thought is this!" wrote Mrs. Eddy, "that mortals can lay off the 'old man,' until man is found to be the image of the infinite good that we name God, and the fulness of the stature of man in Christ appears" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 15).
Honoring the good in every man, we honor God as the divine source of true manhood. We commit to witnessing the Psalmist's view of man as God made him: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? ... For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour" (Ps. 8:4, 5).