OK. What am I referring to?
Well, I’ll tell you. It’s a specific page number in the Church Manual of The First Church of Christ, Scientist written by Mary Baker Eddy. A page number that contains a By-Law that should have a profound significance to all who are students of Christian Science.
A By-Law that blesses and protects not only us, but those who are in need of our help.
Alertness to Duty. Sect. 6. It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not be made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind. By his works he shall be judged, — and justified or condemned.
Yes—alertness to our duties. Duties that keep us safe from the onslaught of the suggestions of the carnal mind. Duties to God to be God-like, to our Leader (Mary Baker Eddy) by following her as she followed the Christ, and duties to mankind by taking up the roles that our Master and Mrs. Eddy demonstrated and expected each of us to accomplish in healing the sick and reforming the sinner. Roles that are for the salvation of mankind.
I find it interesting that Mrs. Eddy began the list of duties with our need to alertly defend our thought. And of course, it’s completely logical isn’t it? How else could we carry out our duty to God, to our Leader, and to mankind if error has successfully mesmerized us through aggressive mental suggestion into forgetting and neglecting those same obligations?
And by the way, aggressive doesn’t necessarily have to mean blatant or “in your face.” No, it could also be the silent yet persistent argument that would attempt, for instance, to discourage, demoralize, distract, dissuade, embitter, or mislead us.
Now, perhaps you’ve thought that the daily reading of the Christian Science Lesson-Sermon is your protective work. Or that you’re maxed-out and don’t have time to do anything else. Maybe you’ve felt that to do specific daily work for your own protection is a form of selfishness—one that takes you away from helping others.
But given this By-Law, can we really believe that these or any similar thoughts are from God? The same God that we are not to neglect or forget our duty to? The same God that inspired Mrs. Eddy to write the Manual?
Reading the Lesson-Sermon is absolutely wonderful and needed, but let’s not confuse it with specific Christianly scientific treatment—treatment that becomes aware of the machinations of error and handles them. And who said that such treatment is necessarily time-consuming? Furthermore, how could it possibly be selfish if you’re able to be more effective in your healing work as a result of your thought having greater clarity and understanding?
In the reminiscences of John C. Lathrop (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Vol. 1), Lathrop wrote that after explaining to him that to watch was to become conscious of one’s danger, Mrs. Eddy said:
Christian Scientists read their literature, go to church, to church meetings, and still may be tumbled over; that is not watching, they are merely marching up and down the breastworks. (p. 262)
So, let’s see. We’ve got two choices on this issue before us:
1) Merely marching up and down the breastworks, or
2) Giving ourselves daily treatments so that we are able to remain alert and carry out our duties.
Which box will you tick off?