Do we consider ourselves to be Christians? Perhaps there is a Bible readily accessible in our living room. Do we feel satisfied because we pick it up and read from it, either sporadically or regularly? If the answer to any of these questions are “yes”, then ask yourself this question: Is this all that constitutes the life of a Christian following the leadings of Christ Jesus?
What do we do when times get tough, when human life presents situations to us that are contrary to the love which we had conceived God to be? Do we dig into the Bible and sincerely and earnestly seek spiritual truth, looking for a better understanding of God and man to solve our dilemma? Or do we look elsewhere for easy material aid, while patting ourselves in the back for our practice of Christianity? Have you ever asked yourself, “Why should I believe in God’s promise of spiritual grace appearing through material assistance? “ Have we asked ourselves in times of suffering if this suffering is really the will and expression of God’s unfailing Love? Does it seem that something is missing from the equation? Do we quietly believe that the Bible does not offer the solutions we need and demand to make our life comfortable again, and thereby unwittingly deny the very God that is the solution to our problems?
The presence of an only vaguely understood or seldom read Bible can no more make us Master Christians than can the presence of a treatise on Advanced Calculus make us into master mathematicians. The purpose of that Calculus textbook is to bring the student to the higher level of thought, to the potential level of the author of the book, and to enable him to learn to master Calculus through its many lessons and examples. Likewise, the purpose of the Bible is to take you to its spiritual source, to the enlightened spiritual understanding of the Prophets in the Old Testament, and of Christ Jesus and his later followers in the New Testament. That source does not lie in the surface presentation of ink on paper. That source lies deep within the inspired word, which is spiritual, not materially tangible.
Opening your Bible and reading about miracles without a basis for understanding the deep and hidden spiritual truth behind them, is just as effective in making you a Christian, as is the casual perusal of that Calculus book effective in making you into a master mathematician, as you gaze in awe at all of its complex formulas and symbols. Just as becoming an expert in Calculus requires dedicated and intense study and practice, including the repeated practice of solving exemplary problems, so likewise does becoming a master Christian require much more than simply asking God for it in prayer. Becoming a master Christian also requires intense study and dedication, and requires the repeated practice of solving exemplary problems of life. As in mathematics, the problems must start out being simple ones, if we expect to solve them. But, as any successful student of mathematics will tell you, practice leads to the mastery of the ability to move on to the solution of more complex problems. What is Christian practice? Christian practice means following the commands of our Master, Christ Jesus. It is life’s homework. Left undone, we find ourselves in the condition of not being able to pass the test, seemingly stuck, until we decide to dig in and get serious.
What are some of those commands left to us by the master of Christianity, Christ Jesus? In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to The Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes (page 37) “Christians claim to be his followers, but do they follow him in the way he commanded? Hear these imperative commands: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect!” ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature!’ ‘Heal the sick’……Why has this Christian demand so little inspiration to stir mankind to Christian effort?”
In her chapter on Prayer, she writes on page 9 “Are you willing to leave all for Christ, for Truth, and to be counted among sinners? No! Do you really desire to attain this point? No! Then why make long prayers about it and ask to be Christians, since you do not care to tread in the footsteps of our dear Master?”
Christian practice is doing the homework left by Christ Jesus. Just as doing the homework problems in that math class enables the student to master mathematics, in that same sense does following these commands of Jesus enable us to master life. We must strive to be perfect, knowing that we are perfect in God’s eyes, as commanded in Matthew 5:48, and referenced above. If this were not so and not possible, would Jesus have commanded us to do so? We must share the gospel with those in need. We must express tender compassion and heal the sick. We have been commanded to do so! This is the only way by which we can become more Christ-like. We must ourselves follow Jesus’ commands!
Until we each demonstrate our own willingness to walk in Jesus’ sometimes bleeding footsteps, our Bible will do nothing at all for us. A textbook is of no use to us, unless it is used as it was intended. Otherwise it is but a mere decoration or a paper weight. The Bible is our guidepost to life, but it will help us only when we diligently seek out the truth that it has been designed to provide to all mankind, through its deep study and contemplation.