Glorifying God

From the December 24, 1910 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel by

The student of Christian Science, if he is honest, has before him one definite task: his single aim must be to glorify God. Perhaps a reason not altogether unselfish has brought him to Christian Science, or some motive not wholly sincere may perhaps be animating his present attempts to apply Christian Science to his needs and to his desires; but, because Christian Science is what it is,—because the whole nature of its teaching, when correctly applied, destroys all self-seeking,—every student must come soon or late to the singleness of purpose which is bent upon bearing witness to God’s presence and power and to His goodness to “the children of men.”

Not easily nor at once, perhaps, is this spiritual altitude reached. Mortals have so long and so persistently lived to satisfy themselves, that living purposely and definitely to glorify God is a new and an untried thing to them. The whole mortal self must be regenerated in order to live first for God, and the selfish or the worldly tendency in each one of us does not yield readily to the pursuit of righteousness,—to right thinking and right living. Even worse, our materiality may try, in our first study of Christian Science, to bend the word of God toward the ends of personal ambition and gain.

Praying for the gratification of selfish desires is not outgrown with ease; but, because human thinking when directed by Christian Science lays hold of divine activities, the actual spiritual law thus enlisted in our behalf begins to dispel, beyond our own power to undo evil, the selfish instincts. Though we turn to Christian Science hoping to strengthen and brighten our ways, we soon find that what we learn of it is steadily purifying our ways and causing them to give place eventually to God’s ways. Thus we find, in the course of spiritual growth, that Christian Science brings gladness to life not by gratifying the mortal, but by exalting God and Godlikeness; and that in this way it sets us about what the master Christian called “my Father’s business,”—even the business of manifesting this Godlikeness in every thought and in every undertaking.

The voice of the prophet Isaiah was an earnest cry against worldliness,—a plea that God should be glorified, for he writes: “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord;” “I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.” The apostle John wrote of that other John, the forerunner of the Christ, that “he was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” And Christ Jesus, to whom John the Baptist looked for the “true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” carried the matter even beyond the vision of Isaiah and John when he said, “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me.” To the Jews who would kill him for glorifying God, because their misunderstanding hearts insisted that he was thereby “making himself equal with God,” he patiently replied: “The works … bear witness.” It was for the works, not for himself, that he wanted recognition. And here is the lesson for all Christians: religious fervor may desire to glorify God, but the works of Godlikeness alone exalt Him.

Whether our thoughts and deeds are truly for the glory of God, or whether they are in part the outcome of human will and desire, depends wholly upon the spirituality of our thinking. All material beliefs exalt matter. Every spiritual manifestation exalts God. The question, “Does this glorify God?” tests everything we think and everything we set about doing. A measure for the day’s work already done is, again, How much did it glorify God? Every plan, every temptation, everything to be accepted or rejected in our work, our play, our companionships, our surroundings, our daily going and coming,—everything, in short, to be done or not to be done, can be tried by this one swift stroke that cleaves its way cleanly to the root of all action.

Perhaps just to refrain from that which gratifies ourselves is many times quietly and humbly to exalt God; always to keep from being betrayed into positive and aggressive evil is to prove God victorious; again, a situation may be so involved that to choose a lesser evil seems sometimes the best one can do at the moment to bear witness to God; and many times, indeed, the thing we feel constrained to do to glorify God may seem to the observer, because of a differing point of view, the very thing that we ought not to do. Yet it is true, that in all the conflict of human opinions, and under the pressure of varying demands, this one question asked honestly of ourselves concerning every responsibility at hand, keeps us in a safe mental place, where progress out of difficulty is assured and where we become of definite use in the earth. To live for any selfish purpose whatever is to add to the world’s materiality, but to live that God may be glorified is to subtract trouble from humanity and to be a multiplier of peace.

What we know of God is for us all that is eternal, all that is worth while. The present daily life is cared for by this divine knowledge, and in no other way can it be really protected. To attempt the direct use of spiritual understanding, however, in order to build material success and happiness, is to pervert the teaching of Christian Science. Mortals cannot “use” the law of God for any ignoble purpose. As they lay down self-seeking, divine law makes use of their purified thoughts to overcome sin and disease. Christian Science heals sickness and destroys sin and helplessness and poverty, not because it is perfecting mortality but because it is doing away with mortality by reason of the appearing of immortality; because the evil in human nature is succumbing to the better understanding of the divine nature.

The causes for disease and poverty bred in the beliefs and habits of the human mind give way as unselfishness lessens under the desire to understand God, and so the effect of spiritual thinking finds room to appear in purified affections, unselfed purposes, a success that brings the greatest good to the greatest number, and a health that is not at the disposal of matter. To gain one’s desires at cost to others, to succeed because others fail, or to rise from a sick-bed with strengthened belief in animal health and in physical health or laws, may appear to be success, but in no way does it glorify God. Furthermore, to allow any self-exaltation because of the happiness and health that appear by reason of knowing God better, is to fail in so far understand Him and to miss that much the way that glorifies Him. Gratitude, not gratified human pride, belongs to the Christian Scientist; and nothing short of the spiritual understanding that puts out self completely to find God All-in-all, is witnessing worthily to God’s greatness and goodness.

By fair logic a discordant and suffering world does not bear witness to a good God. Sin, sickness, and death do not in themselves glorify an all-wise, all-merciful, ever-beneficent creator; neither does resignation to these things exalt Him. Christ Jesus was divinely patient, yet he glorified God in an active ministry against sin and disease and told the world plainly that we should all be about the same business. He also made clear the difference between relieving disease that mortals may be more comfortable in matter, or destroying disease in conjunction with sin that God’s presence may be made manifest in the earth.

To understand ourselves, to find out whether we want health and success for the sake of it or in order that God may be glorified, is to determine the genuineness of our profession as Christian Scientists. The search-light of this question may very likely discover to us the reasons for some slow healing, and for multiplied trials after we understand somewhat the teaching of Christian Science. Demanding honest analysis of motive from ourselves, and comparing our hidden instincts and impulses bravely and squarely with Christlikeness, we bring to light the causes for trouble, and with Christian Science we can dispose of them. However, whether healing be slow or fast, whether we learn trust and patience through gradual deliverance or whether quick healing comes to foster our faith, we are, if striving to do everything for the glory of God, coming into our own,—finding through spiritualized thought-processes that oneness with God which must in its appearing manifest all good.

“A faithful witness will not lie,” declared King Solomon. And he who obeys Christian Science is refusing daily to express untruth and is striving to become more truthful,—a better witness to God,—in his thoughts, his deeds, his health, and his usefulness. Sickness and idleness do not tell the truth about God any better than do false words and deeds. No Christian Scientist would claim, however, that in his human conduct and condition today he wholly glorifies God; he knows too well what needs yet to be cast out of himself. But Christian Science reveals to him the spiritual man of God’s making, demands of him nothing less than that God shall be glorified by the continual appearing of this spiritual manhood, and sets him about the business of watching and spiritualizing his own thoughts to speed this divine coming. And in the measure that he hastens God’s glory in the earth, he finds his own vexations cease, so good is God.

Knowing all these things, Jesus said, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do;” and St. Paul admonished, in his letter to the Corinthians, “Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

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