The past year has included plenty of news about the politician, the clergyman, the celebrity, caught in less than honest or moral behavior. And the cry that goes out for those who "fall from grace" is rarely one of compassion.
But society may set itself and its leaders up for that fall. We expect much of those in the spotlight. We look to them to solve our problems and serve our needs for leadership, counseling, and entertainment. We see them as larger than life, only to be disappointed when they struggle, just as we do, with human failings.
Consider the reality shows on television such as "American Idol" that focus on finding the perfect singer/dancer/model. These imitators of the British series "PopIdol" have sprung up around the world. That use of the word idol – "an object of extreme devotion" – suggests there's a big market for the adulation of personalities. But this type of adulation has long proved to be a two-edged sword, placing people on pedestals from which they may fall.
It's worth considering how this all leaves God out of the picture, even as it supports the prevalent view that existence begins and continues in physicality – and that despite their good potential, men and women are inherently flawed and vulnerable. According to some theologies, we're fallen from grace at birth. From this perspective, human experience is merely the interaction of inherently flawed personalities relying on their own particular strengths and weaknesses, tastes and whims, driven by a mixture of care and competition.
Still, leaders are needed. And looking to God and His law as the only rightful source of strength, stability, and happiness helps halt the cycles that promote falls from grace.
Mary Baker Eddy's study of the Bible, particularly the book of Genesis, revolutionized her view of humanity, for it assured her that we are actually wholly spiritual beings – men and women of God's creating, who are and will ever continue to be His very "image" (see Gen. 1:27). Her discovery of Christian Science revealed the fact that this God, who is Love itself, could not, would not, create a flawed mortal. In fact, she perceived that God created an entirely perfect creation that He was pleased with.
Further, Mrs. Eddy recognized God alone as the one intelligent presence, a loving Parent we can love "because he first loved us" (I John 4:19). And she saw that Jesus' works illustrated this truth. The spiritual understanding she gleaned from her study enabled her to heal as he did, and she forged a Christian theology revealing God as the divine healing Principle.
God's strength, intelligence, and guidance rest on a sure foundation. Anyone can take active part in worshiping God – good – alone. Organizations vital to society's advancement – of which churches are prime examples – benefit from the prayer that places their care in God's hands. And this prayer goes forward to support and protect those in power and the communities they serve.
People generally have hope that a power bigger than life somehow holds everything together. And Christian Science says there is still good reason to expect a healthy, joy-filled atmosphere to pervade, particularly when one's dearest, deepest hopes are placed in that higher power. Prayers that honor God's omnipotent goodness, and accept the inseparable nature of everyone's own relationship with Him, settle into details with the far-reaching effect of good for all.
Preventing the fall from grace is a responsibility that rests on everyone. It's through silent seeking that we honor God's supremacy. Then we won't be duped by false claims for greatness. And with cleareyed grace and kindness, we'll see and feel more consistently the effects of God's presence in the world.
Adapted from an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.