Religion in the 1990s
RECENTLY I heard several prominent members of different religions tell what direction they would like to see religion taking in the 1990s. One wanted to see greater spirituality; another expressed a desire for a greater knowledge of God's love. I was struck by these two comments. Many people long for spirituality and a sense of God's love. And they are looking to religion to give them a better understanding of what God is like and of how people can understand and improve themselves. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, described God as ``The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence.''1
If we consider this concept of God carefully, we will see that there is no material element in it; it refers totally to spiritual being. And since man is made in God's likeness, in actual fact he is far more than the material senses can take in. Man, made in God's image, expresses the qualities of Mind, Spirit, and Love, which include intelligence, wisdom, honesty, purity, loving care for others.
It is these qualities that I value in my friend who lives on another continent. The fact that we share a love of these qualities lets us understand each other, regardless of differences of race, color, and religion. Expressing these qualities is what makes him a dedicated teacher who is devoted to helping his pupils. And these qualities make me more helpful to others, also.
It is not easy, in the face of the materialism of worldly thought, to base one's life on spiritual values derived from the allness of God, Spirit. But those people who do this find that living in this way brings into their lives more peace, integrity, health, and joy. Thinking and acting on the basis of brotherly love sometimes require a great deal of generosity and forgiveness, but the result, seen in happier lives and relationships, is well worth the effort.
In the Bible we read of the breakdown of the relationship between two brothers, Jacob and Esau. Jacob had stolen Esau's inheritance and then fled to a distant country to get away from his brother's anger. Years later, when he returned in response to God's bidding, he heard that his brother was approaching with a large band of followers. Jacob prayed throughout the night until, as he said, he saw God ``face to face.'' The next day, when Jacob approached, Esau ran and embraced him. Jacob said, ``I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.''2 The reconciliation between the brothers was complete.
Even when the need for reconciliation is not so great, seeing from the point of view of spirituality and love can help us in small ways every day. Once I noticed a feeling of coldness between a fellow worker and me. One day we were sitting opposite each other at a table. I prayed to understand that we are all made in the image of God, of divine Love. Suddenly my colleague responded to me in genuinely friendly terms. There was no further problem the rest of the time we worked together.
Religion that is founded on spirituality and love helps us to know God better and enables us to recognize in each other God's beloved likeness, His child, regardless of what physical appearance may tell us of race, age, or situation in life. This recognition of our oneness as children of God enables us to feel brotherly love for each other -- and act accordingly.
This way forward for religion is one that we can beneficially, wholeheartedly, and joyfully follow in the 1990s.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 587. 2Genesis 33:10.