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Devotion and Consecration
HERBERT W. BECK, CSB

 
         Christian Scientists may turn with profit to the history of the early Christian church. During that period there were persecutions even unto death, which called forth the greatest devotion and consecration to the Christ. Material wealth was parted with gladly; and the so-called good things of material living were considered a snare. The aim, apparently, of these early Christians was to gain the wealth of spirituality. From the accounts we read of them, we may assume that this must have been true of most of them.

         Constantine, emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, issued two edicts of toleration for the Christians. It is open to question, however, if he really favored the Cause of Christianity when he gave it the protection of the state. Undoubtedly, the protection of the emperor was considered a wonderful boon at the time to the followers of the Master, for they were allowed to live in peace and to worship God without fear. But the danger lay in that very physical peace and in the wealth which quickly came to the church. As wealth accumulated, the grasp on spirituality was loosened until the church became merely a form of worship, and the power to heal the sick and raise the dead was lost.

         As the progress of the Cause of Christian Science rests upon the spirituality of its adherents and their demonstration of divine Principle, we may turn to these historical facts for a lesson, and not allow history to repeat itself. Mrs. Eddy warns us of the danger of earthly riches and popularity, for mortal mind does love to be popular with its own suppositional world.

         It is right for our church and for us to be rich, provided we are rich in the right way. But true riches are to be found in spirituality, in such qualities as humility, gentleness, loving-kindness, intelligence, the power to heal; and these should be ever before us as our goal. Poverty and lack do not express spirituality; and it is the practice of Christian Science to destroy them. But it is perhaps a greater error, at least it is more dangerous to spiritual growth, to have or to seek material things, believing them to be riches.

         Physical betterment should always follow spiritual growth. If this should not be the case, our grasp on spiritual sense will weaken and drop away. Material gain must not rob one of spiritual wealth. It is not meant by this that the businessman should not be active in the promotion of his business, that the housewife should not improve the home conditions; but spiritual gain must be first, and then material betterment will be added. By this the businessman becomes a better businessman, and the housewife is able to bring into the home that real atmosphere which makes a home.

         In "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 138) Mrs. Eddy has written, "I cannot be a Christian Scientist except I leave all for Christ." To accept this high standard of action, we must know that progress is not to be measured by the accumulation of material riches, but rather by advancement into spiritual understanding, whereby we become Christlike, and are able more quickly to heal the sick. This progress and its results may be easily judged by ascertaining whether one is giving his all to God's service or simply trying to get everything out of it.

         To leave all for Christ calls for devotion and consecration to God, divine good. It calls for the renunciation, as fast as is practicable, of the so-called good in matter. It is not difficult to desire to be free from the pains of the flesh, but it is more difficult to turn from its supposed pleasures. Ease in the flesh is not or should not be the aim of the Christian Scientist; and here is a danger which must be proved unreal by every demonstrating student. Only love of God and obedience to Him will carry one past the sirens of the flesh, which have allured to disaster many a promising career.

         Devotion to good naturally consecrates one to its living. Such devotion is spiritual in that we seek, find, and possess the good God gives us. Devotion consists in being faithful to God in the acceptance of His goodness. It lifts desire above the fleshpots of Egypt into the realm where desire finds its natural heavenly gifts, and hope is not cheated.

         Jesus said plainly that honest service could not be rendered unto two masters; and even so, one cannot indulge the flesh and be devoted to Spirit at the same time. While there is no need to seek martyrdom, yet error must be overcome, not entertained in some form of compromise. No mountain is climbed while lying at ease in a hammock in some pleasant valley. We are in a warfare with the flesh, and can be successful only as we consecrate our lives to God and take up the cross of denial.

         The wise man travels lightly, refusing to be weighed down by material luggage. The aim of the Christian Scientist must be for spiritual things, the things of spiritual sense, not of material sense. A very pertinent question is: What are we doing with Christian Science? Do we use it merely to be physically well and to have no financial troubles? The well-fed horse in its stall has as much as that. Christian Science does not teach one to seek the place where all physical wants are supplied, but rather the kingdom of heaven, wherein spiritual activity is dominating all the claims of matter.

         Our opportunity is fraught with possibilities not fully realized today. Christian Scientists possess an understanding of demonstrable Principle, whereby the sick are healed, the sinner reformed. The responsibility is inspiring, and demands works as well as words. We have taken our stand for the supremacy of good, and opportunity is found in obedience to that good.

         Every Christian Scientist should be willing to answer the call for help; for Christian healing must not be confined to one class only. Timidity will never be overcome while submitting to it on this question; and the only way to become proficient in healing work is to practice that healing work.

         The excuse of the home, the office, or lack of time, is really no excuse. In our Church Manual (p. 92) Mrs. Eddy writes: "Healing the sick and the sinner with Truth demonstrates what we affirm of Christian Science, and nothing can substitute this demonstration. I recommend that each member of this Church shall strive to demonstrate by his or her practice, that Christian Science heals the sick quickly and wholly, thus proving this Science to be all that we claim for it." This By-law excuses not one member of The Mother Church from being a practitioner of Christian Science.

         There are two types of thought — the Mary and the Martha. Martha was busy with little things, her life surrounded by petty demands and a constricted horizon; she saw only material objects, and was lost in the worry of them. Mary, however, sat at the feet of the great Master, learning of Christ. Her thought was on the upward trend, giving attention to things worthwhile. Undoubtedly, Mary became a better housekeeper because of her attention to the divine message, while Martha was a poorer Christian because she had no time for such contemplation.

         Mortal mind would argue that we must be freed from pain, from lack of all sorts, and then we may use our freedom in contentment with a merely physical condition. Healing through Christian Science is of a dual nature. As erroneous conditions are overcome, there must be a corresponding spiritual improvement, even though it may not be immediately evident. Without spiritual blessing the healing of Christian Science would be no better than any material system or philosophy. As each false belief is dropped, a step is taken spiritually; for we have been separated from an untrue burden.

         Are we not grateful that our Leader refused to be caught by the petty things which many think important? Would Mrs. Eddy have been a great Leader if she had lived a less unselfish life? She awoke from the dream of matter to the call of spirituality and its opportunities. The field is white with the harvest; many are laboring in the gathering, but the sickles perhaps are dull. Why let something still cherished materially so dull the tools that we reap only in part? Failures should awaken us to the need of greater humility and greater endeavor.

         More consecration, more devotion, is needed in the work for the good of mankind. Self must not be indulged, for it prevents devotion to the cause of selflessness. To give one's all to the Cause of Christian Science is to receive in its place a demonstrable understanding of the allness of God. Devotion to good calls for the denial of all evil; it calls for added spirituality and demands the new birth, which daily bears the deeper impress of heaven.

         Blessings will surely be abundant to every Christian Scientist who remembers and follows the Master's imperative instruction: "And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give."

 

"Devotion and Consecration" by Herbert W. Beck, CSB
Christian Science Sentinel, February 27, 1926


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