What kind of man am I going to be?
A Christian Science perspective: The search for something deeper than meeting society's expectations for happiness and fulfillment.
Society certainly has plenty to say about what kind of man I could be or even should be – what I could or should wear or do to create a personality, how to carry myself or establish a place in the world for myself. It’s as if there’s a voice all around saying that who I am should be something that attracts personal attention. How can I get a YouTube video that goes viral? The attention doesn’t even have to be complimentary, as long as I’m somehow special or distinct in the way I look and sound.
It’s certainly right that we all feel special. Because we are. The infinite Mind that created the universe did it all for a reason. We each have great purpose within us. And I find that this purpose has a voice indicating that my life is bigger than just striving to attract attention to myself. The ultimate of life is not about being the guy who appears wealthy or most talented. It’s not about being the one who is obviously macho or extra sensitive to the feminine side of things. Particularly in regard to my appearance, I’ve wondered if the goal is even more one of being rather unremarkable.
What if the purpose, my purpose, was really just to draw attention to ideas that are remarkable? Like justice, goodness, and love? Wouldn’t this tell us something of the ideal man? The Bible illustrates the fulfillment of the ideal man. He was called Christ Jesus, and he said something that I think relates to all this: “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me” (John 7:16). In other words, he served something bigger than just his place in the world. He honored our Creator. His life and message were not something intended to draw attention to himself but to the nature and qualities of God.
I find this all especially remarkable, given the strong legacy that Jesus left. And isn’t that legacy due to the goodness that marked it and that came of it? His focus on God meant holier, healthier lives for everyone around him. People were lifted into better lives, even from the deathbed. And this all brought to the world an ideal model for today.
Speaking of “a real Christian Scientist” – and encouraging both women and men to embody this ideal in their own lives – Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, once wrote, “With selfless love, he inscribes on the heart of humanity and transcribes on the page of reality the living, palpable presence – the might and majesty! – of goodness. He lives for all mankind, and honors his creator” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 294). Wow! Now that’s something.
Notice some of the particulars in this. There’s the love that’s not about serving ourselves. Our footprint or mark in the world is not something that speaks of us personally but that tells humanity of the presence of good. In other words, the focus is on everyone, and on revealing for everyone the glory and accomplishment of our Creator. As the Bible indicates, our infinite God is divine Love, and our world surely needs witnesses of this Love. In every nation and community, we need small and big examples of decency and righteousness, compassion and fairness.
We all may have a way to go to fulfill such a model. I know I surely do. But I also find that there’s a profound peace in setting off on this journey and taking steps toward a life marked by the simplicity, as well as the might and majesty, of God’s goodness. And from this spiritual standpoint, there’s plenty of special purpose in simply being a good neighbor, a kind son, an honorable husband, and an attentive father. That may sound unremarkable if we’re seeking fame on YouTube. On the other hand, Jesus and his disciples showed that love for others that’s based in Spirit continues to stand out today as indeed something quite remarkable – just as it did during their lifetimes.
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