Christian Science and Christian Character
by Blanche Hersey Hogue
When Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” he didn’t add, “insofar as your human temperament allows.”
If someone is convinced that they have inherited certain traits or have certain tendencies, it may be difficult to attain the heights of Christ-like character at a single bound. But they can focus on one objectionable line of thought and conduct, and determine to stop indulging in it!
One wrong thought arrested, or one wrong deed restrained, begins the process of reformation; and when one form of evil is resisted, we find increased strength to resist every form of evil. To walk in the path to Christliness, we must watch carefully, detect honestly, and reject faithfully the inclinations of human impulse and human will, with the determination to be satisfied with nothing less than perfection.
The human mind resists Jesus’ command to be perfect, claiming that it is not possible for poor human nature to attain perfection. But human nature is not asked to become perfect; instead, it is to be outgrown and discarded. As darkness never grows into light, but vanishes with the dawn; as chaos never becomes order, but disappears as soon as order begins to appear; so that which is imperfect does not develop into perfection, but must fade from thought and action proportionably as perfection appears.
That which is called human temperament is not as permanent an inheritance as it appears to be. At best, it’s a bundle of characteristics made up of the reflex action of habit, impulse, will, and emotion, and so is capable of being eliminated. True character, however, is that strength of character which resists all evil.
Christian Science declares that God’s blessing is not withheld until some future time, but will be experienced as soon as man rejects that which holds him from the blessing. The true Christian life is the way of sacrifice, but God only requires the sacrifice of false, limited, ungodlike thinking and actions. Then after this sacrifice, we find greater freedom and blessings. This joy is known only to the heart which obeys, and brings a peace which the world cannot give or take away. What the world gives, it does take away; but because this joy is not given by the world, the world cannot take it away.
It has been said that “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” Mrs. Eddy writes, “We glean spiritual harvests from our own material losses.” (Ret.) One glimpse of divine radiance banishes the memory of many sacrifices, and the tangled path of selfish inclination, so hard at first to abandon, is finally recognized to be a path leading only to disappointment and pain.
Joy in sacrifice is no new theme. The world’s great prophets, poets, and religious teachers have always emphasized its presence in the affairs of men. The book Science and Health shatters the so-called attractiveness of evil, thus removing, to a great extent, the force of temptation and the tenacity of its grasp. It is not possible for one who studies the textbook of Christian Science, and who grows to love the spirit of purity and truth which pervades its teaching, to find continued satisfaction in the many things which the world excuses. When the sense of pleasure in wrongdoing disappears, it’s then much easier to seek a higher and better way.
True character comes, not by the cultivation of the personal disposition, nor through the up-building of human temperament, but rather because the Christ-mind is melting away the obstructing human mentality, and revealing God’s sinless, selfless image and likeness, — the perfect man.
In the life work of Mrs. Eddy, through her patient, unwavering toil for the good of humanity, we see this scientific unfolding of Christian character in example and precept, and we see, as well, the mighty effect upon such unfolding which the message of Christian Science sets before the world. The very heavens open through its promises, for this way of transformation will bring not only deliverance from sin, but eventual escape from every form of disease and sorrow as well. In this work of transformation, we learn to be thankful, not only for daily blessings, but for the trials of faith and tests of moral strength which, when rightly handled, lead to the discovery of unlimited blessings!