Inspiration from the topic of the Fern Lodge Annual Meeting
At the Fern Lodge Annual Meeting last October, Don Christensen, C.S., gave an inspiring talk on the topic, “Being Faithful and Obedient.” Rather than having us reprint the talk, Mr. Christensen encouraged us to make the ideas from the talk our own and then share with others our understanding of the necessity for each of us to be a faithful and obedient Christian Scientist, a diligent disciple of Christ Jesus and follower of Mary Baker Eddy. This article was compiled from thoughts shared by Fern Lodge board and staff members.
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Our mission is to heal. We strive to demonstrate the love of God in the Christian Science nursing we provide. We watch, work, and pray to play our role in “healing and saving the world from sin and death” (see the Church Manual, p. 19). We take comfort and inspiration from Mrs. Eddy’s assurance, “All God’s servants are minute men and women. As of old, I stand with sandals on and staff in hand, waiting for the watchword and the revelation of what, how, whither. Let us be faithful and obedient, and God will do the rest” (Mis. 158:19).
“Choose ye this day whom ye will serve,” Moses required of his sometimes unruly flock. He didn’t say, Choose if you will serve, but whom ye will serve. He followed this with a strong encouragement to choose good, life, and abundance, a God-directed life. Seems like an easy choice, doesn’t it? Trouble is, we usually wish choosing good to be an undemanding and convenient effort on our part. Often, however, it requires something a bit harder: faithfulness and obedience.
The decision to be obedient and faithful to God, good, is between each one and his God. The actions that naturally follow are consistent with this desire to be and do good, in other words, to love. Obedience includes compliance, conformity, acceptance, yielding, abiding. It includes meekness, willingness, and teachableness. Faithfulness includes being true-hearted, conscientious, thorough, reliable, dependable, trustworthy. A pattern of being obedient and faithful to God is a strength and protection, as it allies one with omnipotent good. This rousing demand from Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy, page 393, underscores this:
Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.
Be firm in your understanding that the divine Mind governs, and that in Science man reflects God’s government.
To me, this says, “Be strong, be obedient!” I can, because God made me able to. I can stand firm in the truth! And I can choose this day to serve God, and trust that She will keep guiding me, step by step.
In Mrs. Eddy’s article, “Obedience,” she states, “Obeying the divine Principle which you profess to understand and love, demonstrates Truth.” One way to think of this statement is that Truth must be demonstrated, its effect seen, because Truth is power. Therefore, we have no choice but to obey the divine Principle. Any actions outside Principle would not be allowed in the kingdom of Truth,—the only kingdom. Such apparent actions would be powerless and therefore would be eradicated by Truth. Mrs. Eddy continues in the article on obedience, “Never absent from your post, never off guard, never ill-humored, never unready to work for God, — is obedience…” (Miscellaneous Writings 116). These actions ask in a positive way for us to be always at our post, always on guard, always good-humored, always ready to work for God. These are the only actions that exist in the kingdom of Truth, the kingdom of heaven. These actions describe us and are our very being. These actions bring fruits and multiply them.
Being faithful and obedient is nearly always a no-fanfare decision. It’s not showy. It is a pattern of putting God first, as much as one sees to do it, and as this happens in the quiet of thought, one’s actions follow. To me, this gets to what Jesus alerted us to in Matthew 6, as translated by JB Phillips: “Beware of doing your good deeds conspicuously to catch men’s eyes or you will miss the reward of your Heavenly Father. So, when you do good to other people, don’t hire a trumpeter to go in front of you like those play-actors in the synagogues and streets who make sure that men admire them. Believe me, they have had all the reward they are going to get! No, when you give to charity, don’t even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be secret. Your Father who knows all secrets will reward you.”
Inspired faithfulness and obedience come with the humility that says, with Christ Jesus, “I can of mine own self do nothing,” and “the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” Within this thought is the complete surrender of the human to the divine, surrender of the heaviness of personal sense for the joy, lightness and uplifting power of spiritual sense that discerns and meets all human needs.
We must have patient perseverance. “Love is not hasty to deliver us from temptation, for Love means that we shall be tried and purified” (S&H 22:20). The “not hasty” part calls on our faithfulness, and to be “tried and purified” requires obedience.
There is an act of self-surrender and humility that comes with obedience. It’s a willingness to put aside our personal sense of right—our strongly held opinions—in order to follow Truth. Obedience moves us from the wandering wilderness into a straight and narrow way. Obedience binds up the disheartened, while disobedience passes the wounded stranger by. Obedience reveals God’s purpose for each of us, while disobedience sails for Nineveh. As Paul puts it, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.” We all serve and obey something. So let’s serve God and enter faithfully into his household.
It is as simple as faithfully leaving the false for the true, being willing again and again to lay everything on the altar, to feel the fullness of Spirit and to move with it step by step as Love leavens the heart, and to love everyone as the sunlight that breaks through the clouds loves the whole earth! Neither the unworthiness of shame, nor the self-righteousness of pride can resist or thwart the movement of Truth and Love. God is revealing us as the innocent, fearless, and joyfully obedient children of one Mind!