|Subject: 09 NINE STEPS - GROWTH OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER |
|NINE STEPS IN THE GROWTH OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER |
"You are growing. The Father has sealed you, and the opening of these seals must not surprise you. The character of Christ is wrought out in our lives by just such processes. The tares and wheat appear to grow together until the harvest; then the tares are first gathered, that is, you have seasons of seeing your errors-and afterwards by reason of this very seeing, the tares are burned, the error is destroyed. Then you see Truth plainly and the wheat is 'gathered into barns,' it becomes permanent in the understanding."--From a letter by Mrs. Eddy to Frank Gale, one of her students. From "We Knew Mary Baker Eddy", Second Series, Page 25.
We know that all will be changed "in the twinkling of an eye," when the last trump shall sound; but this last call of wisdom cannot come till mortals have already yielded to each lesser call in the growth of Christian character.
This absolute demonstration of Science must be revived. To consummate this desideratum, mortal mind must pass through three stages of growth.
The second stage of mental development is humility. This virtue triumphs over the flesh; it is the genius of Christian Science.
The third stage of mental growth is manifested in love, the greatest of all stages and states of being; love that is irrespective of self, rank, or following.
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Luke 15:11-32 (NUMBERED 1 THROUGH 9 ADDED)
And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; (1) and he began to be in want. (2) And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. (3) And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! (4) I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. (5) But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. (6) And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. (7) But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. (8) And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. (9)And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
The parable of "the prodigal son" is rightly called "the pearl of parables," and our Master's greatest utterance may well be called "the diamond sermon."
Consider the relationship between the stages of growth in the character of the prodigal son and the 9 Beatitudes. Then review "The Way" in Mis 355 and see if the three stages of growth do not apply to these nine steps. Consider:
NINE STEPS IN MBE ARTICLE "THE WAY":
1. Self Examination: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." If you are "rich" in spirit you don't feel you need any spirit. But if upon examination you see spiritual characteristics absent you seek them, in other words, you desire greater spirituality. Here the prodigal begins "to be in want" (Luke 15:14) Also look at the Daily Prayer (Man 41:19), which is really a prayer of self-examination!
2. Self-correction: "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted" encourages us to be willing to let go of that which before we were holding on to. Leaving old standpoints means leaving the field where we "feed swine", saying goodbye to "a citizen of that country" (the material view of body) (Luke 15:15-16) and see: Mis 119:10-13
3. Mental self-knowledge: "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth: The son's willingness to "come to himself" is the point of awakening to his real selfhood as the reflection of God. (Luke 15:17-19) & (see S&H 462:20-27) Meekness enables us to evaluate thought, establish self control and subordinate material thinking for divine truths.
4. Communion (Coming to the Father): "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Our Leader tells us (Mis 1:15), "Humility is the stepping-stone to a higher recognition of Deity." In Luke 15: 19,20 the son "comes" to the Father as opposed to the previous text when he will "go" to the Father. In the latter instance he decides to do it whereas in the former he is drawn to the Father. The oneness of God is now so apparent that we are drawn to Him with a hunger and thirst so strong nothing can pull us away.
5. Compassion: "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." The father running to meet the son shows that complete forgiveness is part of compassion. (Last sentence in Luke 15:20) Consider the story of Mary Magdalene (S&H 363:8-23) Don't hold grudges. It's not an honest position or thought about God's man; and honesty is one of the transitional or moral qualities along with compassion. (S&H 115:26-27) Don't be surprised if your honesty undergoes renovation when you truly learn to forgive.
6. Subordination of the human to the divine (Awakening to our purity): "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." In verse 21 we read, "...and am no longer worth to be called thy son." At this point of awakening we are no longer willing to accept ourselves as mortal. When the mortal self is sufficiently subordinated to our true selfhood, then humility is sufficiently developed to be able to admit the completeness of our spiritual selfhood with no taint of error or impurity. (see S&H 222: 31-2)
7. Peace and reconciliation: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Luke 15:22-24 restores the son's status. In like manner, through Christian Science, our understanding metaphysically of ourselves as the children of God is also restored. When man and God are at-one the basis of discord no longer exists. See My 121:7-13. The love that reflects God is without self-interest and allows us to maintain peaceful relations with others and with our own bodies. Our Leader tells us not to indulge in selflove by talking Christian Science without living it. See Man 45:4-13. It is our duty to promote peace and demonstrate the rules of divine Love!
8. Loving your enemies: "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Forgiveness, returning goodness for evil, shows that (our brother’s) jealousy and hatred to be unreal and thus to have lost its hold on us. See how our Leader brings this out in the textbook on page 571:15-21. Read Jesus instruction in Matt 18:15-17. Look at Joseph's example in what he said to his brothers after they persecuted him. Gen 50:21,21 Also take the time to read "Love Your Enemies" by Mary Baker Eddy (Mis 8:8-15:3)
9. Joy and gratitude in the face of seeming discord: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and
persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." Luke 15: yv 31-32 teaches us to rejoice in the face of what we thought was mistreatment. Look how knowing yourself through a correct concept of Love is explained by Mrs. Eddy-see S&H 359:11-14. Remember evils victories are only temporary, Truth is always the victor. The Father’s promise to us is: All that I have is thine. …for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found!
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus of Nazareth was a natural and divine Scientist. He was so before the material world saw him. He who antedated Abraham, and gave the world a new date in the Christian era, was a Christian Scientist, who needed no discovery of the Science of being in order to rebuke the evidence. To one "born of the flesh," however, divine Science must be a discovery. Woman must give it birth. It must be begotten of spirituality, since none but the pure in heart can see God, — the Principle of all things pure; and none but the "poor in spirit" could first state this Principle, could know yet more of the nothingness of matter and the allness of Spirit, could utilize Truth, and absolutely reduce the demonstration of being, in Science, to the apprehension of the age. Ret 26:17
We know the healing standard of Christian Science was and is traduced by trying to put into the old garment the new-old cloth of Christian healing. To attempt to twist the fatal magnetic element of human will into harmony with divine power, or to substitute good words for good deeds, a fair seeming for right being, may suit the weak or the worldly who find the standard of Christ's healing too high for them. Absolute certainty in the practice of divine metaphysics constitutes its utility, since it has a divine and demonstrable Principle and rule — if some fall short of Truth, others will attain it, and these are they who will adhere to it. The feverish pride of sects and systems is the death's-head at the feast of Love, but Christianity is ever storming sin in its citadels, blessing the poor in spirit and keeping peace with God. '01 2:6
God gives the lesser idea of Himself for a link to the greater, and in return, the higher always protects the lower. The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good. Love giveth to the least spiritual idea might, immortality, and goodness, which shine through all as the blossom shines through the bud. All the varied expressions of God reflect health, holiness, immortality — infinite Life, Truth, and Love. S&H 518:13
2. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted
… find rest in the spiritual ideal, or Christ. For "who is so great a God as our God!" unchangeable, all-wise, all-just, all-merciful; the ever-loving, ever-living Life, Truth, Love: comforting such as mourn, …Mis 124:11-15
quivering lips words of strange import. May the great Shepherd that "tempers the wind to the shorn lamb," and binds up the wounds of bleeding hearts, just comfort, encourage, and bless all who mourn.
Father, we thank Thee that Thy light and Thy love reach earth, open the prison to them that are bound, console the innocent, and throw wide the gates of heaven.
4 Mis 275:13-19
Divine Love is our only physician, and never loses a case. It binds up the broken-hearted; heals the poor body, whose whole head is sick and whose whole heart is faint; comforts such as mourn, wipes away the unavailing, tired tear, brings back the wanderer to the Father's house in which are many mansions, many welcomes, many pardons for the penitent.
Ofttimes I think of this in the great light of the present, the might and light of the present fulfilment. So shall all earth's children at last come to acknowledge God, and be one; inhabit His holy hill, the God-crowned summit of divine Science; the church militant rise to the church triumphant, and Zion be glorified. My 132:28
This church is impartial. Its rules apply not to one member only, but to one and all equally. Of this I am sure, that each Rule and By-law in this Manual will increase the spirituality of him who obeys it, invigorate his capacity to heal the sick, to comfort such as mourn, and to awaken the sinner. My 230:9
My disciples rejoice in their present Christianity and have no cause to mourn; only those who have not the Christ, Truth, within them should wear sackcloth. My 339:20 My
3. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth
The meek demonstrator of good, the highest instructor and friend of man, met his earthly fate alone with God. No human eye was there to pity, no arm to save. S&H 49:14-17
I have passed through deep waters to preserve Christ's vesture unrent; then, when land is reached and the world aroused, shall the word popularity be pinned to the seamless robe, and they cast lots for it? God forbid! Let it be left to such as see God — to the pure in spirit, and the meek that inherit the earth; '01 26:14-19
Love, redolent with unselfishness, bathes all in beauty and light. The grass beneath our feet silently exclaims, "The meek shall inherit the earth." S&H 516:12-15
4. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
…this completed extension of The Mother Church is an evidence to us of her hospitable love. She has desired for years to have her church able to give more adequate reception to those who hunger and thirst after practical righteousness; and we are sure that now the branch churches of The Mother Church will also enlarge their hospitality, so that these seekers everywhere may be satisfied. My 40:1-8 this
In the Science of Christianity, Mind — omnipotence — has all-power, assigns sure rewards to righteousness, and shows that matter can neither heal nor make sick, create nor destroy. S&H 203:3
"Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday." This I know, for God is for us. Mis 157:22
To seek or employ other means than those the Master used in demonstrating Life scientifically, is to lose the priceless knowledge of his Principle and practice. He said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Gain a pure Christianity; for that is requisite for healing the sick. Mis 270:11-17
5. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy
And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure. 497:24
have thoughts adverse to the law of love. Pride, arrogance, and self-will are unmerciful, and so receive judgment without mercy; but the law of metaphysics says, "Blessed are the merciful," and will allow no one to escape that blessedness, howsoever far he may stray, whatsoever lawlessness of hatred he may practise and suffer from. My 41:9
Healed is thy hardness, His love hath dissolved it,
Full is the promise, the blessing how kind;
So shall His tenderness teach thee compassion,
So all the merciful, mercy shall find. Hymn 278:3
6. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, — this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony. The purification of sense and self is a proof of progress. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." S&H 323:32
Christian Science demonstrates that none but the pure in heart can see God, as the gospel teaches. In proportion to his purity is man perfect; and perfection is the order of celestial being which demonstrates Life in Christ, Life's spiritual ideal. S&H 337:14
None but the pure in heart shall see God, — shall be able to discern fully and demonstrate fairly the divine Principle of Christian Science. The will of God, or power of Spirit, is made manifest as Truth, and through righteousness, — not as or through matter, — and it strips matter of all claims, abilities or disabilities, pains or pleasures. Mis 185:2-7
The great Nazarene Prophet said, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Nothing aside from the spiritualization — yea, the highest Christianization — of thought and desire, can give the true perception of God and divine Science, that results in health, happiness, and holiness. Mis 15:6
7. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Through rivalries among leaders Christendom became divided into warring sects; but the demand of this age is for peacemaking, so that Christianity may more widely reassert its pristine power to bring health and a cure to pain-racked and sorrow-worn humanity. "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, . . . And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." My 40:14
8. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Persecuted from city to city, his apostles still went about doing good deeds, for which they were maligned and stoned. The truth taught by Jesus, the elders scoffed at. Why? Because it demanded more than they were willing to practise. It was enough for them to believe in a national Deity; but that belief, from their time to ours, has never made a disciple who could cast out evils and heal the sick. S&H 41:26
The new faith in the Christ, Truth, so roused the hatred of the opponents of Christianity, that the followers of Christ were burned, crucified, and otherwise persecuted; and so it came about that human rights were hallowed by the gallows and the cross. S&H 134:9
Simply count your enemy to be that which defiles, defaces, and dethrones the Christ-image that you should reflect. Whatever purifies, sanctifies, and consecrates human life, is not an enemy, however much we suffer in the process. Shakespeare writes: "Sweet are the uses of adversity." Jesus said: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake; . . . for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." Mis 8:17
Yea, it is the healing power of Truth that is persecuted to-day, the spirit of divine Love, and Christ Jesus possessed it, practised it, and taught his followers to do likewise. This spirit of God is made manifest in the flesh, healing and saving men, — it is the Christ, Comforter, "which taketh away the sin of the world;" and yet Christ is rejected of men! '01 9:12
9. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Christian Scientists are persecuted even as all other religious denominations have been, since ever the primitive Christians, "of whom the world was not worthy." We err in thinking the object of vital Christianity is only the bequeathing of itself to the coming centuries. The successive utterances of reformers are essential to its propagation. The magnitude of its meaning forbids headlong haste, and the consciousness which is most imbued struggles to articulate itself. '01 30:1
The history of Christian Science explains its rapid growth. In my church of over twenty-one thousand six hundred and thirty-one communicants (two thousand four hundred and ninety-six of whom have been added since last November) there spring spontaneously the higher hope, and increasing virtue, fervor, and fidelity. The special benediction of our Father-Mother God rests upon this hour: "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." '01 2:27
When we have overcome sin in all its forms, men may revile us and despitefully use us, and we shall rejoice, "for great is [our] reward in heaven." My 6:9
On November 21, 1898, in my class on Christian Science were many professional men and women of the highest talents, scholarship, and character in this or any other country. What was it that brought together this class to learn of her who, thirty years ago, was met with the anathema spoken of in Scripture: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake"? It was the healing of the sick, the saving of sinners, the works even more than the words of Christ, Truth, which had of a verity stirred the people to search the Scriptures and to find in them man's only medicine for mind and body. This Aesculapius, defined Christianly and demonstrated scientifically, is the divine Principle whose rules demonstrated prove one's faith by his works. My 104:24