Looking to Spirit
THE Bible has a great deal to say about the basis of true happiness and progress -- about salvation itself. But in the midst of day-to-day routines and pressures we're not always awake to the implications of Bible teachings, to their relevance right now to our own and the world's well-being. So often what seems to matter are only the immediate concerns of our lives. This is understandable, because those concerns are often serious, and we want things to go well in the details of our lives if we're to be happy. But there are larger issues to be thought about that relate very specifically to the happiness of our experience -- issues that we need at some point to consider if we're to progress at the deepest level and find a more substantial basis for our well-being.
The Bible presents those larger issues. For example, Christ Jesus taught, ``God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.''1 And he said, ``It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.''2 Jesus' words tell us to elevate our worship and our whole sense of life above materiality, above the false consciousness that we're nothing more than fleshly personalities, pretty much at the mercy of forces outside our control.
We may ask why we should do this, of what use it is. After all, life as we commonly know it seems very temporary and physical. Nothing could be more obvious, we may feel, than the realities of the sensuous world -- than its irresistible pleasures and unavoidable pains, its physiological facts and carnal attractions.
But where does this view of things lead us? To the problems mankind faces, problems that we tend to attribute to material conditions beyond our control rather than to a misconception of what life and man really are.
Yes, life appears to be a product of the flesh and man a frequent victim of circumstance. And we may feel it's unrealistic to think otherwise. But Jesus taught that God is Spirit, and his healing works illustrated that God is good, that He doesn't send evil but delivers us from it. What our loving creator has made is completely good, not evil or enigmatical. And the man of His creating -- our true self-hood -- is purely spiritual, because God is Spirit.
Jesus' ministry shows us that our true being is much more than it appears to be and that we don't, therefore, have to be victims of sin and pain. We don't, because they aren't part of our real identity. And by worshiping God in spirit -- putting the things of Spirit at the center of our lives -- we can begin to prove something of our spiritual wholeness and gain greater dominion over the flesh, which ``profiteth nothing.''
Jesus' life shows us that what appears so convincingly to be ``the way things are'' can be changed and harmonized. And the Master's teachings also point to the fact that purified, God-centered living prevents the development of suffering in the first place. As Jesus said to the crippled man whom he healed at the pool of Bethesda, ``Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.''3
Nothing could be more relevant to our well-being than the Bible teaching that it is ``the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.'' Sensuality is a dead end. It leads neither to health nor hap-piness, because the Principle of our happiness is Spirit. We tend to doubt this because we can't see Spirit with material eyes, and maybe we doubt it because things have gone along well so far without much attention to spiritual matters. But sooner or later we have to acknowledge and depend on that which is eternal, not fleeting. Sooner or later we have to come to the conclusion that real life is based on something more than a physical sense of existence, which changes and decays. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says, ``Mortals must look beyond fading, finite forms, if they would gain the true sense of things.''4
To strive each day to purify our lives through prayer and through greater degrees of Christliness in thought and action is to worship God in spirit. This isn't burdensome but freeing. And it's progressive in the truest sense. God isn't threatening us but loving us. And we'll feel more of that love as we're willing to place more of our faith in the things of Spirit.
1John 4:24. 2John 6:63. 3John 5:14. 4Science and Health with Key to the Scrip- tures, p. 264. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:25