Week 95: "How can church members help one another to speak more kindly to each other?"

TWQ Speak Kindly

Photo by Katie Duntley

Question: “What have other churches used to help members learn how to use words that heal rather than words that hurt one another?”

Response 1: Lois Carlson

The cruelty that gets spoken among church members is so bizarre, it cannot be the reality of our relationship with each other! This beautiful religion that cultivates a hunger for the Word of God, a mental independence from the world and a devotion to prayer and study, cannot be used as an excuse for a disconnect from our fellow Christian Scientists—the very group that has been appointed to us to support our courageous stands for spiritual progress and healing.

None of us has been created in isolation. The Christianity demanded of us, obeying the Two Great Commandments of Jesus (Matthew 22), requires that the profound love we experience with God overflow to our love for others. How good to know that Christ is among us, helping us to move past the things that would keep us apart.

Our coming together in church is premised on the fact that the Christ is working in each of us, forwarding our salvation, tempering our characters and healing whatever needs healing. And because our relationships in church are the overflow of Christ working, we need to be especially alert when we come together before and after church services, during business meetings and other committee work to know that Christ is partnering with us.

My branch church had a two year prayer project of “Seeing Christ in One Another”, and I saw the fruits of it in terms of my own correction. At a business meeting, I spoke carelessly in response to a committee report. There was nothing wrong with the report; in fact it was quite inspiring, but I was eager to get home and the meeting already felt too long. I could tell that the committee members were very confused by my response, and before I left, I went over to speak to the committee chair and apologized. She did give me a just rebuke, but very quickly smiled affectionately and said, “It’s okay; it’s already forgiven.”

Afterwards I was tempted to ruminate over the rebuke, but I kept remembering her wordsof forgiveness. She is someone who has always expressed such an appreciation for everyone’s service at church, and I value what she gives as well. At the next business meeting, the love between us just drew me to sit next to her. I gave an apology for my mistake at the last meeting to those gathered and acknowledged her example of forgiveness.

What I saw in this experience was the power of forgiving quickly when someone speaks something that hurts. Sometimes the tendency of the human mind is to make forgiveness very hard to do. But really it is a simple acknowledgement that even though we may see things from different perspectives, we really want to preserve our relationship to each other. Mental malpractice cannot exaggerate the importance of any one issue in church to overshadow our friendships with fellow Christian Scientists.

The business of the church is not the real basis of relationship among the members. The real basis is the shared willingness to welcome Christ working in our hearts. Our Christly salvation means giving up the belief of having an ego, will, and mind of our own, to find our identity in Christ. The very selfhood that feels hurt, self-justifying, self-asserting and careless, is the selfhood that is yielding to our infinite perfection as children of God.

This does not justify speaking unkindly as I did, but it does assure us that any weapons of evil that try to disconnect us as a church family can be proved powerless in a ready spirit of forgiveness.

Response 2: Elizabeth Kellogg

Ideally, we are all turning to the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy to learn how to be better Christians.  Let’s look at this question in two ways.  First, with a desire to speak words that heal.

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) is always helpful to study because it has a way of softening human opinion and revealing our innately generous Godlike nature. When we are willing to give more respect to others and take less offense at their mistakes, we will find ourselves speaking helpful, not hurtful words. The Sermon raises questions that help us to examine our thinking before we open our mouths.  

For example:

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6).  Am I hungry to know God’s will or am I already full of personal opinions?

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee…” Am I willing to consider new perspectives? “And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee…” (Matthew 5:29). Do I think that I am morally right about an issue and therefore have the so-called “upper hand”? If so, how willing am I to abandon the position?

“For if ye love them which love you,...if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others?” (Matthew 5:46). Am I taking sides on an issue and ignoring all other sides?    

“When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance…”  (Matthew 6:16). Am I moping around or withholding affection, until someone else changes, or am I getting on with worshipping God?

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…” (Matthew 7:12). Am I speaking to others the way I want them to speak to me?

Considering the other side of this question:  how can we avoid feeling hurt by another’s words? Mary Baker Eddy wrote two articles that answer this question beautifully. The first is “Taking Offense” (Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 223-224).  It teaches that to be upset about what we perceive to be the faults of others is “superlative folly.” Like the Sermon on the Mount, it also calls us to examine our thinking and let go of pride, self-will and egotism. “It is our pride that makes another’s criticism rankle, our self-will that makes another’s deed offensive, our egotism that feels hurt by another’s self-assertion” (224:2).

The other article is “Love Your Enemies” (Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 8-13).  This article is so empowering because it affirms again and again that we are never victims of another’s opinion. No one can stop us from being Godlike, from being loving, joyful, unselfish and kind. As we are wholly dedicated to loving God, Good, we won’t feel hurt nor will we be able to hurt!

  1. We can all use this ..... Thank you so much for sharing these helpful ideas. I recently heard the term "Health Snobbery" .... we need to be so gentle in our conversations regarding the rough spots in life that others face. Being just physically healthy is not necessarily proof of being spiritually progressive.

  2. Lovely reminders to all of us to love one another.
    Thank you.

  3. Thank you, Lois!

  4. Thank you so much to both contributors. These sharings have come at a time when I reached out in prayer for helpful inspiration after overhearing negative comments at church regarding a fellow member's "creative" contributions. I had wanted to feel sad and disappointed, wondering where is the Christly love we ought to express if we want to draw the "weary wanderer" to our Church services and Reading Room. I knew immediately that I had to dismiss it as a lie, however your comments are helping me greatly.

  5. I would so like to share this with my branch church but I can't see how to send this one article to them.

  6. Hi Merry Ann,

    We're so glad this was useful for you, and would be happy to help you share it. There's a few ways to do this. One is to copy the link to this page and just send it in an email. Or, if you look up at the top of the page, just below the question in big font, there's a gray tool bar. On the right hand side, you'll see an envelope icon and a little icon with an f and a bird. If you click on the envelope, that will allow you to share this page via email. If you click on the f, you can share it on Facebook. If you click on the bird, you can share it on Twitter.

    Hope that helps!
    Church Alive Team

  7. Add a couple of steps to the above directions about sharing: first, you have to click on Sharing, which is a choice on the gray tool bar. Then when the drop down menu appears, click on Social Media. Only then will the little icons appear---at least on my screen that's the way it works.

  8. Add a couple of steps to the above directions about sharing: first, you have to click on Sharing, which is a choice on the gray tool bar. Then when the drop down menu appears, click on Social Media. Only then will the little icons appear---at least on my screen that's the way it works.

  9. Very true and practical, thank you both so much!

  10. Have these wonderful responses been published in the print Journal or Sentinel. we really need to hear these. Thank you!!!!!

  11. Thank you very much for this loving reminder. It doesn't only apply in church but also must firstly apply in the family where 'charity begins at home'. Just the right reminder for me today. I'l strive to keep this alive.

  12. Both of these beautiful responses are so alive with active love, fueled by Love!

    And they complement one another, making for a lovely, two-winged upward flight for the reader.

    Bless you both, Lois and Elizabeth. I am already sharing this--with myself (smile). I'll also pass it along so that fellow church members and friends can "soar" with me!.

  13. What loving and peaceful thoughts we need for each other in our congregations. We do need to be alert for the "little foxes " that try to creep into our thoughts each day! Thank you!

  14. Thank you Lois and Elizabeth for your insightful and loving reminders. They are very much appreciated.

  15. I have just realized how long it has been since I have read Jesus' Sermon on Mount. It used to be a favorite of mine. Thanks all for reminding me, I shall get right at it.

  16. I agree with Barbara in that this needs to be in a Journal or Sentinel. Firstly, because I know of people at my CS Church who are not on the Internet at all and will never see this. Secondly, because I know of other CS who, although on the Internet so could potentially receive an email, never use social media (whereas I do) so again will never see it. This is an issue which affects all of us and, sadly, I have seen this in every CS church I've attended to some extent. I think there are a substantial number of CS who still read the print Sentinel and Journal and will see this if it is in print. And I don't mean that only senior members aren't au fait with the Internet. I am tech savvy and subscribe to JSH Online but prefer to read my print copies. I feel that, based on the comments added above by all of us, we all feel that we have been helped to think about our feelings and reactions at Church but . . . . we are also aware that one or two people who maybe need to work on the issues raised here aren't going to see this. Absolutely excellent topic. I know that I am definitely going to make more effort to think about the before and after service times so that I try to progress in my own thought about inharnony (and dare I say egos) in Church.

  17. It's very important that the thoughts concerning how to be loving to your fellow church members be shared iin the print magazines. It would be a good topic to be shared in Church Membership meetings when the request for items about Church Welfare are raised.. We might ask ourselves the question: Do I really love every church member? Do I love my neighbor as myself? Do I love myself? It is clear that the Church "affords proof of its utility" if in this era of divisiveness we can be undivided and full of Love.

  18. I agree. Many of us humanly come from very different backgrounds, with very different experiences. I was accused recently of "giving away CS Association secrets at Wednesday evening testimony meetings."
    For example, is the sentence from page 67 of S&H "Spiritual, not corporeal, consciousness is needed." with respect to healing the sick, considered a 'CS Association secret'? I am not re-quoting any one I know.

  19. I Cor. 13 is a good guide for me.

  20. Church is the best place to practice the Revelation, and what employment it gives us. There is no 'jobless recovery' here in the Movement.

  21. Speaking less and praying more. I knew a Christian Scientist who healed quickly and consistently. He did it by breaking the mesmerism of a lie with humor. And what relief. That light is the glue that keeps it all together. And darkness never stopped light.

  22. Lois,
    What a healing quality genuine humility is. We can see that in the humility it took to apologize not only to the committee chair, but publicly at the next business meeting. And to not be snared into being offended by the rebuke. And then to write about it in this article.

    And Elizabeth, your specific iinsights from the Sermon on the Mount shine a light of hope, restoration, and unity on all relationships.

  23. Speaking lightly, lovingly, kindly but plainly to one another excludes subtlety that mistakenly believes we're dealing with mortal egos that need assuaging but correcting. Sincerity is healing, prevents anger, gossip, subtlety and years wasted continuing angry and/or fretting. Mrs. Eddy writes about Jesus in Science and Health, 'It requires the spirit of the blessed master to tell a man his faults and so risk human displeasure for doing so.' And she says he did so because he was their friend. Humility and sincerity are recognizable plain as day.

  24. There is an old gospel that always helps me. Ibegins: It's me Lord standing in the need of prayer. Not my brother, not my sister. It's me Lord standing in the need of prayer.

  25. Isn't it a beautiful thing that in what is called the space age mankind is beginning to delve into the inner space of thought, what appears to be one's own thought, but cannot be because Divine Mind is the only thought giver to man, bypassing psychology with Christ's spiritual understanding of here and now.