(In-person church service at the bank tonight! Location & details @ end of this post.)
Some thoughts on “the law” vs “grace” (Romans 6:14):
In Mary Baker Eddy’s book Miscellaneous Writings, 1883-1896, she includes a “Questions and Answers” section, including all kinds of Q&A about Christian Science. One of the very first questions she answers deals not with ethereal spiritual concepts, but with a down-to-earth, almost nit-picky concern—internal to just her student base, so it seems at first:
“How shall we demean ourselves towards the students of disloyal students?“
Interesting, I think, that she found this specific question important enough to address right up front. My guess at why, or at least partially why, she might’ve done this: she felt the response was actually very broadly universal:
“From this question, I infer that some of my students seem not to know in what manner they should act towards the students of false teachers…. In Mark, ninth chapter, commencing at the thirty-third verse, you will find my views on this subject; love alone is admissible towards friend and foe.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 32)
Philip Yancey, the author of What’s So Amazing About Grace, poses a related question in his book. Essentially, he’s explained throughout the whole book why he sees grace, i.e. the unearned love and acceptance from God, as “Christianity’s best gift to the world” (p. 30).
Then he asks: “How can Christians uphold moral values in a secular society while at the same time conveying a spirit of grace and love?” (p. 230)
It’s sort of what Mrs. Eddy’s students were asking her, right? Behind their question—and, I think, for lots of Christians, students of Christian Science included—there may be a concern like this: “We know there’s something deeply special about the system that is Christianity. We love what its guidelines have shown us about life & existence, so we’re doing our best to be faithful to them as we know how. So what about when other people aren’t doing it the same way, or aren’t even trying? How should we deal? Is there a balance between judgment and love?”
Yancey makes the point in his book—and I feel Eddy does in her writings, too—that the balance… is actually just to love. Without stopping to check whether particular rules of behavior are being applied.
(I should add, both of these Christian authors modeled this idea after Christ Jesus, rather than claiming to have come up with it themselves. Jesus practices this point himself throughout the Gospels.)
It’s interesting that this feels humanly counter-intuitive. After all, we should be standing up personally for things we feel are right! Right?
Maybe… the idea works because God is Love itself. And, also, is actually the one in charge (even if it seems like we are). So, as we consciously reflect His grace & love, and let that be the overwhelming guide in our relations with people, we’ll see that He totally takes care of the details one-on-one with each person, as needed. And that it’s not up to us to do that. Maybe?
In any case, it seems worth a try to me.
There’s a lot of implied trust here, too, that God actually is all-powerful… enough to affect the lives of each of Her children without help from Her other children. Which is pretty cool, and requires humility and faith on our part.
Sooo… that’s pretty darn great.
(This idea has been some good food for thought for me recently, so I wanted to share it where others can enjoy. Still working on living these ideas, myself.) 🙂
“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” -Paul (Galatians 5:14)
• • • • • • •
On a separate, but very important note: today is Wednesday. We’re all growing in our practice of this understanding-eternal-Life business, and Wednesday means we get some consecrated time to come share our findings. 🙂 You can share, or just listen, this evening. Details (+ our call-in number) below.
Details about tonight’s service:
@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map).
7:35-8:35 PM, EST.
-In person, or by phone (605) 475-4000, code: 636128#
what: An hour of singing, contemplative prayer, readings from the Bible and Science and Health, testimony sharing, and pure Love.