God First

From the Christian Science Sentinel, July 19, 1919, by


It has been truly said that “the battle of our life is won and heaven begun when we can say ‘Thy will be done,’ ” and when indeed we can assert with an honest sense of self-surrender, “Father, Thy will be done; I am weary of my own,” we can perhaps have some realization of what Jesus knew in all its completeness when he said, “I and my Father are one.” Mrs. Eddy writes in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (p. 55), “Whosoever layeth his earthly all on the altar of divine Science, drinketh of Christ’s cup now, and is endued with the spirit and power of Christian healing;” and repeatedly throughout her writings this same thought is vigorously expressed. She well knew that halfhearted service is of little avail, but that to be worthy one must leave all for Christ, and this means the surrender of all belief that there is life or reality in matter. Is not this the fast that we have chosen? And as we see the sick restored to health, the sinful regenerated and set free, do we not earnestly thank God for such blessed opportunities?

“Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul,” and it is through the subjugation of material plans and desires that we finally acquire a broader state of mind, which counts as gain only that which gives a clearer perception of the infinite God. Through earnest seeking and the confident claiming of all good as our eternal heritage, we gradually cease to gravitate earthward and begin to breathe the purer atmosphere of spiritual understanding. Oh, the pity of it, that it should seem so difficult at times and so extremely slow of accomplishment! How we hug to ourselves some cherished plan that seems to our limited vision so wholly good that we are sure it must needs be fulfilled, and how sadly we grieve when our human planning comes to naught. Through many generations we have been carefully trained to look in the wrong direction for health and happiness and are proving deplorably true this quaint bit of philosophy: “The further you go on a wrong road, the further you must walk back.” Uselessly we strive so long as we act through a mistaken sense of good; for often we advance Spiritward through the defeat of the very things we are clamoring for. When we learn to let God rule, asking to do only that which He will have us do, relinquishing the delusive baubles to which our human fingers so tenaciously cling, we find a mental harmony which can be gained in no other way, because that has been the law of Life from the beginning, and through Christian Science it is again being taught and established upon the earth.

Sincerely longing to lay aside all material beliefs for the Christ, Truth, often thinking, doubtless, that everything there is to give has already been given, one comes at length to the point where he realizes that he has traveled but a limited distance, after all, along the road of self-abnegation. This is a hopeful state for progress, since they only are wise who know that they know nothing materially. Like children outgrowing their toys, those of spiritually larger growth are constantly putting aside more of the “old man” as his seeming importance lessens, until they attain the understanding that there is but one thing needful, and that is to love God comprehendingly, “warring no more,” to quote Mrs. Eddy (Science and Health, p. 140), “over the corporeality, but rejoicing in the affluence of our God.”

We read in the Bible, “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” What is it to search for God with all the heart? It is a mighty question, intelligent obedience to which would establish a serene consciousness of ever present good, bringing peace and freedom in place of turmoil and bondage. Mortals look for freedom where there is apt to be the heaviest servitude, for joy where there is but its shallow counterfeit. “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey.” Surely few deliberately seek evil as evil; they simply seek that which seems to them good, and this wrong concept is responsible for most of the troublous conditions in human experience.

Mankind have been sedulously taught to think materially, to become absorbed in material interests, pinning their anticipation of happiness to worldly riches and the accumulation of things procured therewith. They long to give and receive an abundance of human affection, to obtain success and fame, measuring success in terms of dollars and cents and fame in terms of intellectuality, place, and power. The way of materiality is the way of ultimate disappointment and disillusionment, for lasting joy is not there. True riches are spiritual; love worthy of the name must reflect divine Love, and success and fame can rest only upon a foundation of Christlikeness; and when they do, the glory belongs to God instead of man, because then the very works are His. Going faithfully about our Father’s business, all that we do should be for the “healing of the nations” in His name. Well might Jeremiah question, “Where are thy gods that thou hast made thee?” for bewilderingly in time of trouble we seek for them or possible substitutes of similar nature, and the quest is never ended.

Numerous behests are found in the Bible relative to the destruction of graven images and their kind, and the recompense given for such annihilation is that God will “turn back your captivity before your eyes.” Surely men must get to the point where they gladly see them go, not with rebellion and regretful effort to hold them back, but with rejoicing that the work of elimination and surrender goes on. There is nothing equivocal about the statement, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Mankind have listened altogether too long to the voice of the lying serpent that tells them they shall be as gods, and it is their perverted attempt to measure up to his seductive suggestion, trying to run the world independently of God, that has brought about, humanly speaking, a reign of discord and distress. Habitually to seek good with all the heart is to place God first unreservedly, discarding the cumbersome things that weigh and burden, knowing that back of every manifest good stands Almighty God, the author of it.

Pondering the words “God First,” we begin to analyze our own thoughts, wondering if we are even approximately true to its appeal, and are quite likely to find that while our reception room is in fairly good order, there are other portions of our mental structure decidedly in need of renovating. Erroneous beliefs must be denied and cast out; criticism, envy, malice, hypocrisy, revenge, and countless numbers of their tribe must be repudiated. Wrong thinking being the chief cause of one’s misery, right thinking, which is of course spiritual thinking, must be steadfastly enthroned. All that pertains to human living, visible or invisible, is preceded by human thought, and this is but the poor counterfeit of the actual life of man in which every manifestation is the expression of the divine idea, which is the eternal word of God.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” was the favorite text of our brave Leader, and it is synonymous with “God First.” We cannot parley with it or hang about the edges of it, or follow it occasionally, or find ourselves and those about us of greater interest. From earliest childhood we have taken the words of the First Commandment “trippingly on the tongue,” with little if any conception of their meaning and power, and generally it is only when we are wearied of the human selfhood with its unfulfilled and unsatisfying schemes, that we actually begin to obey the long established decree. Men have accepted certain opinions and theories because they were the thoughts and opinions of their fathers, and so have drifted along in time-worn grooves almost like automatons. Swathed about with conventions and stagnating beliefs, there was desperate need of a scientific religion which should awaken men to recognize that they must do their own thinking and that there was something vital and life-giving to think about. This need was met in Christian Science, which is actual knowledge of the Christ, Truth, as existent here and now. To think, instead of blindly accepting the thinking of others, is to be aroused to undreamed of possibilities and to take our place as “lively stones” in God’s universe.

On page 19 of Science and Health we find this rendition of the First Commandment of the Decalogue: “Thou shalt have no belief of Life as mortal; thou shalt not know evil, for there is one Life,—even God, good.” Finding a true, vital sense of God, and of ourselves as indisputably one with Him, we acquire at the same time a correct perception of service. To know and hence to love God is to serve God, and to serve God is to serve man; and when through loving ministry to others we forget to listen to the clamorings of mortal selfhood, we find the real and eternal which possesses all good from the very beginning—and this is the coming of the Christ to the individual consciousness. Contentedly one learns how truly loss is gain, finding countless opportunities to love and comfort and encourage those in need, through the calm and confident assurance that ever present good is the only reality. Genuine service in Christ’s name inevitably weakens the thought of self. Whatever we make a god of materially has to go, whether it be houses or lands or some other phase of material belief, until through fervent endeavor and sincerity of purpose we finally acknowledge the absolute entirety and all-inclusiveness of God. We are fortified through the realization that since all is God and His idea there can be no opposing influence to counteract or reverse the constant activity of good, or thwart the infinite will of God. Understanding himself to be wholly dependent upon God, man loses the cumulative burden of personal responsibility and obtains a new understanding of enduring strength and efficiency which he freely uses to inspire confidence and courage in others. Thus love becomes the fulfilling of the law, meeting the needs of humanity and lightening and dispelling the shadows of sorrow and suffering.

One who follows loyally the “pattern” set before him will undeniably possess sufficient consecration and diligent persistence to perpetuate the message of good cheer which the Founder of Christian Science labored so untiringly to reestablish in the hearts of men. The keynote of it all is brotherly love, free from selfish domination and self-seeking; and we cannot, therefore, afford to forget the advice of Paul to the Philippians, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Man is ever the true and exact reflection of God, and to judge this righteous judgment regardless of appearances is to love one another as the Father has loved us. Laying down a human concept of life for the divine, we shall see that “all things work together for good to them that love God,” and also that “what we deemed reproof was love most true.”

Since Spirit alone is good, everything desirable must needs be spiritual; therefore men must seek wholly in the mental realm, the source of all activity, for the experiences which will bring enduring joy and freedom. This kingdom of God, this secure abiding place, is ever within us, as Jesus affirmed, and no passing shadows and human beliefs can deprive us of the promised Comforter and its ministrations. A permanent consciousness of good can never contain a knowledge of evil, and when through revelation and unfoldment one comes to love the God-consciousness above all things else, material beliefs and temptations, however alluring to the human sense, will cease to attract. Man cannot live materially and be at peace, because he is spiritual, and liberty must of necessity be attained through the permanent establishment of spiritual thinking and living.

All glorious is each individual as God’s perfect ideal, and just because of this eternal fact the children of men suffer through trying to substantiate a duality which does not exist. This attempt being eventually abandoned as impossible of achievement, one begins to affirm persistently, daily and hourly, his true and only heritage, a Godlike selfhood, whose peace mortality can neither give nor take away. Then, the warfare ended, he can exclaim with great gladness, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”




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