Mary Baker Eddy knew that true heroes stand for more than personal gain and glory. In a letter to a group of Christian Science lecturers, she emphasized the virtue of humility: “You are not setting up to be great; …”
(The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 248).
Are there any heros?
By Judy Gillespie Myers
From The Christian Science Journal – March 27, 2013
* Photo – Courtesy of allposters.com
The lives of great men and women always inspire us. Individuals who break barriers or overcome adversity raise our sights and encourage us to be our own best selves.
These individuals, and sometimes role models, are frequently political and community leaders, military officers, athletes, and other public figures. We admire them and sometimes think they can do no wrong. This kind of “hero worship” can also occur in subtler ways—whether it’s claiming that a beloved spouse is always perfect or that a straight-A student never struggles. Despite our confidence in their infallibility, these individuals sometimes fail to meet our high standards.
When we learn that a public figure or an important person in our lives has faltered, disappointment often follows. We might lament as David did, after the death of King Saul and his son, Jonathan: “How are the mighty fallen!” ( II Samuel 1:19). That phrase has been used more recently to lament the personal failings of important people, rather than their passing on as in the case of Saul and his son.
David, who struggled with character flaws himself, recognized the folly of looking to any person as a model for greatness. In fact, David himself became one of those mighty fallen. He courageously faced and overcame Goliath while still a shepherd boy. He became a hero in his own time—a brave warrior, accomplished musician and writer of psalms, and a powerful king. But after David came to power, he had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba and strategically placed her husband in the heat of battle, where he was killed. David later recognized his sins and repented, remembering his loyalty to God, the infinite source of all good.
David is just one of many biblical heroes. Moses, Elijah, and Paul showed great humility, vision, and strength and helped contribute to the elevation of the human race. But in no one individual can we find such true heroism as that demonstrated by Christ Jesus. Jesus’ entire life was the ideal for us all. He courageously spoke out against evil and destroyed it—casting out sin, healing the sick, and raising the dead.
Jesus’ entire life was the ideal for us all.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has this to say of Jesus: “His example is, to Christian Scientists, what the models of the masters in music and painting are to artists” (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 3).
What really made Jesus great was the fact that he expressed incredible humility and constantly turned his followers to God instead of self. While Jesus was preaching on the coasts of Judea, a listener addressed Jesus as “Good Master.” His reply is noted in the Bible in the Gospel of Mark: “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God” ( Mark 10:18).
Eddy reinforces this point in her own teaching. She writes: “I earnestly advise all Christian Scientists to remove from their observation or study the personal sense of any one, and not to dwell in thought upon their own or others’ corporeality, either as good or evil” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. 308–309).
We can honor and cherish the spiritual qualities of biblical and contemporary men and women without worshipping them. In recent memory, we’ve watched athletes show dedication and determination in the face of illness, injury, or disability. We’ve admired the leadership, strength, and foresight of military leaders. But beyond just appreciating these virtuous qualities, it’s important to affirm that they have their origin in God. These spiritual attributes remain forever untouched, even in the wake of scandal or disappointment. God-like qualities are fully expressed in each of us, though in distinctly individual ways.
Eddy knew that true heroes stand for more than personal gain and glory. In a letter to a group of Christian Science lecturers, she emphasized the virtue of humility: “You are not setting up to be great; …” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 248). In the same letter, she goes on to explain, “Spiritual heroes and prophets are they whose new-old birthright is to put an end to falsities in a wise way and to proclaim Truth so winningly that an honest, fervid affection for the race is found adequate for the emancipation of the race.”
Although Eddy was writing to a very specific group of Christian Scientists when she made these remarks, her words can inspire larger audiences today. Our goal is never to receive personal glory or praise. Rather, wherever there are unselfish deeds, forgiveness, willingness to blaze new spiritual trails, courage in standing up to a lie, and healing, we see men, women, and children expressing true heroism.
So, are there any heroes? Most emphatically, Yes. And their examples inspire us, prove we’re all capable of more than we yet do, and remind us that good—which is eternal and cannot disappear—prevails.