Accept Only the True

 

Martin N. Heafer of Houston, Texas

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

Christian Science lecturer Martin N. Heafer, C.S.B., urged an audience in Boston yesterday to put serious effort into learning about God as "the one source of all that is true and good."

He cited the example of Christ Jesus in accepting "only true good, spiritual good, rather than the lies of sickness or sin."

To do this, said Mr. Heafer, is to accept what the Apostle Paul called "the mind of Christ," or, as the lecturer put it, the "divine Mind that gives us the true idea of God and man."

A former business executive, Mr. Heafer, who comes from Houston, Texas, became a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship in 1964 and a teacher of Christian Science in 1967. He spoke in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.

"Accept Only the True" was the title of his lecture.

Mr. Heafer was introduced by Clem W. Collins, First Reader of The Mother Church. The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

I'm sure you've all had the same experience as I had the other day. I was listening to the news on TV and at a break the announcer said, "I'll be right back after this message." It struck me more forcibly than ever before that what followed wasn't really a message at all - it was a sales pitch for calla lily bulbs! Now I love beautiful flowers, but I wasn't interested just then in hearing about calla lily bulbs. But, I thought: "Why I don't have to listen to that! I can turn it off." And I did.

Just so, we're all confronted at times with what we might think of as sales pitches of another kind - suggestions of sickness, lack, failure, dissatisfaction, as well as temptations to do things we know are wrong. But in the same way that we can turn off a TV set, we can stop listening to these suggestions or believing they're irresistible. And when we do, a wonderful thing happens. Good begins to appear in our experience.

But even to turn off a TV set or tune in to a better channel, we have to know something about a TV set. If we'd never seen one, we wouldn't know how to turn it off; we might even think there was nothing we could do about what we were seeing and hearing.

So it is with changing our thoughts and experience. We need to know how to turn evil off and how to switch to the good that's everywhere at hand - how to accept the true and make it our own. Unless we learn how to do this, our lives may be unsatisfying and unproductive.

So let's consider together this evening how to consciously take our thoughts from God, the one source of all that is true and good.

There's a story of the little girl who was drawing a picture. Her mother looked over her shoulder and said, "Cheryl, what are you drawing?" The little girl replied, "I'm making a picture of God." "But," said the mother, "how can you draw a picture of God? No one knows what God looks like." "Mother," said the little girl, "when I get finished, everybody will know what God looks like."

Now, of course, we can't picture God physically, but we're all forming our concept of God in thought, whether we realize it or not. We know there's something outside of ourselves, some power, intelligence, Love, call it God or whatever. We can't see or feel or sense Him physically. But we can get a clear mental sense of what God is by knowing Him as Spirit, as pure Love, by having some idea of Him as absolute Truth, by realizing Him to be the one infinite Mind and source of intelligence.

These spiritual concepts may seem vague and intangible to the physical senses, but our perception of them through our spiritual senses tells us what God is.

So like little Cheryl, when we correctly form our idea of God, we surely know what He is. We learn God as the one infinite Mind or intelligence, the source of all true thought and of all good.

Can right ideas of God have anything to do with our physical bodies? Well, they have everything to do with them. For instance, let's take some physical activity such as football.

When watching a football game on TV, as the action becomes intense, you hear the announcer say, "And the adrenalin begins to flow." He's indicating that the men playing are becoming capable of greater mental and physical effort supposedly due to the force of the adrenalin secreted into their bloodstreams. But what really tells the body that the situation demands "all-out" effort and empowers the limbs to add that extra speed? Why, the thought of the player, of course.

 

Prayerful thinking

I remember an experience I had along these lines in my early years. Due to certain circumstances, I'd started school when I was four years old and as a result qualified for entrance to a university at the early age of 14. The university authorities were satisfied as to my academic qualifications and mental ability but were doubtful that a boy of 14 could meet the physical demands of a college freshman. So they decided I had to pass certain physical tests - a sort of mini-decathlon. I must run a hundred yards in a certain time, swim 50 yards, and so on. Well, for a boy of 14 to take tests designed for the average 18-year-old college freshman was quite a challenge. As I was running, jumping and swimming, you can be sure my adrenalin was flowing!

But before I took these tests, I did a lot of prayerful thinking. I realized that the same divine Mind which had been the source of my capacity as a student would provide me with the energy and strength that I needed to pass these tests. The measureless power of God would enable me to do what was right and to accomplish this good purpose.

I saw that I couldn't be made afraid or doubtful by believing that I was dependent on human will or my own meager physical strength. I was depending completely upon divine Principle, Mind, and not on anything human. I further realized than man is never immature, but always the individual representative of God, divine Mind, complete and expressing all God's qualities.

Well, I didn't break any track records, but I did pass the tests! And went on to get my degree four years later. More important, I learned a lesson that has stood me in good stead ever since.

The activating power behind all right accomplishment comes from God, divine Mind, not brain, stimulated by adrenalin or any other type of matter. The physical actions and reactions viewed in brain and bloodstream are the effects of thought, not causes. So-called brain waves are only simulated thought. They're no more real thinking than manning a flight trainer is real flying!

True thought is something else. It's thought rooted in goodness, unselfish love, purity -

spiritual qualities which come to us from God, Spirit. As we become conscious of these qualities of God - love, peace, joy, intelligence - as we dwell quietly with them, we're truly thinking - we confidently turn off evil and increasingly experience only good. And there's nothing uncertain or random about this. It's scientific; it's the application to human affairs of pure spiritual Truth.

In order to perceive and recognize God as the one all-governing Mind, we not only have to turn off suggestions of suffering, but also we have to turn off relying on matter as the source of good, of pleasure, of comfort. This is an important point. To find continuing good in our lives, we must be willing to live more spiritually, more close to God, as Spirit. This demands that we express the spiritual qualities of love and true spiritual joy, rather than aim for merely material comfort, ease and success.

A woman many greatly admire came to this recognition, at the cost of guaranteed material comfort and ease. And great good resulted not only for herself but for the whole world.

She was alone, separated from her husband, disowned by her family, living on a very small income, staying in boardinghouses, making and mending her own clothes. Her wealthy sister offered to build her a home and settle enough money on her to make her independent. But there was a catch - that she give up her search for the infinite source of all that is true and good which she believed could be found through prayer - prayers like those of Christ Jesus which healed the sick.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, chose not to take this path of comfort and ease which could have been hers. Rather she chose to seek eternal Truth, a clearer understanding of the spiritual facts of good which underlie human existence. And thousands have come to know their real spiritual identity because she discovered the true nature of God, good, as divine Truth and of man as divine Mind's wholly spiritual idea. Her sister, Abigail, may not have comprehended Mary's refusal. But Mary knew she could not do otherwise. When it came right down to it she had no choice.

 

Message of divine good

In the years that followed Mrs. Eddy gloried in all-demanding spiritual and humane labors. She wrote "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the textbook of Christian Science, constantly revising it until its inspired message of divine good comes through as we read it today with the utmost clarity. She also established the Church of Christ, Scientist, with its purpose to "reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing" (Church Manual, d. 17).

So the primitive healing truths taught by Christ Jesus have been reinstated and students of this Science are following the Christ-teachings and example, as Mrs. Eddy did. They are motivated by Jesus' promise: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also" (John 14:12).

So, all of us, as we learn that God is the one infinite Mind, governing all true thought, can actively accept the spiritual good that's always present.

But there seems to be another source of thought, of motivation, in addition to divine Mind - a second mind, which would tempt us to accept evil as inevitable. It would have us believe there's another creation not made by God, good, and that means another creator, too. What can we say about this?

Well, it's obviously quite true that in the world around us we see sickness and sin, painful, unhappy, sorrowful events of many kinds. All these are the result of our mistakenly believing in many, separate personal minds, apart from the one infinite divine Mind. And this belief arises from the false concept of man as a material mortal.

Yet the truth is that man isn't a material mortal controlled by a physical brain and a personal mind of his own. He's a wholly spiritual idea which has no Mind but God, and his identity consists of expressing God. These erroneous suggestions of many personal minds, accepting and giving out evil thoughts, are called collectively in the Bible the carnal or fleshly mind; in Christian Science we call it mortal mind. But this belief in a mind or minds apart from God isn't the way it really is.

 

True cause is God

Evil doesn't have a real cause, for true cause is God, the one Mind. And since He is good, what He causes is completely good. Then any appearance of evil is due to mistaken belief that it's real and has a cause. But evil has no cause, no source, no identity, because all being is in God and therefore good, healthy, happy. This is the scientific basis, the absolute divine Truth, on which Christian Scientists base their prayers. When we realize this, we stop believing in a second mind, mortal mind, and we begin to turn evil off for ourselves and others. One result is that immediately we find ourselves free moral agents, able to reject the temptation to sin.

True morality doesn't come from human rules but from divine wisdom. It's not the product of the Victorian age or any other age. Its early written record is in the commandments of Moses, and it came to full flower in the grace and truth exemplified by Jesus. It results from divine absolute Truth revealing man to us as the pure, spiritually minded image and likeness of God instead of an animal relentlessly swept along in a current of sensuality and selfishness.

Man isn't a sinner. If man were a sinner, God would be a sinner and this is unthinkable, because man is God's reflection. A mortal sins because he believes man has to, or because he believes man wants to. But in both of these instances, he's mistaken. Man isn't a sinner because by his very nature he accepts his true selfhood as the reflection of pure Mind.

Scientific prayer is an impregnable defense against the deceptive suggestions of mortal mind.

A young friend of mine learned this.

He really didn't want to do wrong, but as a single, very attractive young fellow he had yielded to the misleading impulses of sensuality. He told me frankly that he was "sleeping around" with different girls. It seemed he couldn't help himself. But he felt guilty and remorseful and yearned for moral freedom.

When he talked with me about it I assured him that his desire to turn off sensuality and do what was right was of God and therefore determinative in his experience; that as he allowed the purity and wisdom which were his Godly heritage to be expressed in him, he'd be freed from the suggestions that he must give vent to physical, willful impulses to express so-called manhood.        

My young friend agreed with these statements of truth, but said, more or less, "I want to do this, but when I'm confronted with a provocative situation, I just become unglued and my good resolutions go down the drain." I brought out that he didn't have to depend on his own ability to resist. He could put himself into God's hands, and God was the only power. That there actually was only one Mind, God, which could furnish him with all the moral courage, all the spiritual strength he needed to accept his own true, God-like thoughts; that it wasn't a question of obedience to someone else's rules of conduct, but simply following God's rule of wisdom and purity, the rule of his own true spiritual nature.

He began to see that he couldn't be confused to believe that he was confronted with an irresistible biological urge; but it was simply a stupid, unintelligent suggestion that he do something he didn't want to do.

He left my office in a changed, uplifted state of mind. He saw himself as God's man, pure, intelligent and rightly guided, not ever having to yield to these sensual temptations. He had a new confidence in his God-given dominion - and in the months that followed he was able to prove it.

And sickness is no less a result of belief in a mind apart from God than is sin. A sick experience is determined by acceptance of the suggestions of this supposed mind, not by physical conditions. Sometimes these suggestions present themselves as our own thought, sometimes as the weight of the whole world's belief in heredity, contagion, accident, or whatever it may be. But when we accept God as the source of all true thought, we can effectively resist the temptation to be sick also. And, of course, once we realize sickness like sin is a temptation, we know we don't have to yield to it - and we certainly don't want to.

Health is a spiritual fact which is always present. When we realize health is the reality, we lose the belief in disease and it disappears, because we're no longer projecting it on the body by believing it to be there.

 

The greatest healer

Now if this seems like a very radical thought to you - that sickness is no less a temptation than sin - let me tell you how a man was healed of paralysis.

He had to be carried on a stretcher everywhere he went by some faithful friends. They thought they knew how he could be healed, but they had to get their friend into a certain house in order to accomplish it. There were crowds of people in the way. But they were ingenious. They carried their paralyzed friend up on to the top of the house, took out a part of the roof and let him down through the roof into the room.

And there was someone there, a man who consistently turned to God for his thoughts. This man, Christ Jesus, proved his perfect Christliness by this obedience and as a result was the greatest healer of all times.

But picture this scene. The paralyzed man, lying on his stretcher, finally reaching Jesus through the valiant efforts of his friends. And what does Jesus say to him? Why, this, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee" (Mark 2:5). Now, what kind of reaction did Jesus get to this startling statement? Here was a man needing physical healing, but Jesus talks about forgiving his sins! The people standing around were just as startled as you might have been when I said a moment ago that sickness was no less a temptation than sin. The hypocritical scribes and Pharisees standing about didn't say anything to Jesus. They knew the marvelous things he could do, and that the people loved him, so they didn't dare say anything out loud in opposition.

But they must have thought plenty! And Jesus perceived their thoughts and answered them: "Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) . . . Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house." And the story continues, "immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth... "(Mark 2:9-12).

This is how the greatest and most scientific healer of all healed physical sickness - in the same way that he healed sin. In other words, he showed those he healed how to make a better, more Godlike choice of thoughts - by turning off mortal mind and yielding to the power of the one divine Mind. We can go and do likewise.

Now it's true some illnesses may seem to be caused by some moral fault but I'm not saying it's a sin to be sick. It's like this: sickness and sin both result from not turning to God for our thoughts or not knowing how to. When we reject mortal mind's temptation to believe in evil as real, this obliterates and heals sickness in the same way as it forgives and destroys sin, because both sin and sickness are mistaken beliefs. As Jesus did, we can accept only true good, spiritual good, rather than believe the lies of sickness or sin. To do this is to accept what the Apostle Paul called "the mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2:16), the divine Mind that gives us the true idea of God and man and our whole experience.

 

Scientific truth glimpsed

Mary Baker Eddy discovered Christian Science in 1866 when she glimpsed the scientific truth underlying Jesus' question: "Whether is it easier to say, thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say. Arise, take up thy bed and walk?" She saw what Jesus meant; that sickness is due to incorrect thoughts - to the belief in an existence apart from Spirit - just as sin is. She writes: "Any supposed information, coming from the body or from inert matter as if either were intelligent, is an illusion of mortal mind, - one of its dreams. Realize that the evidence of the senses is not to be accepted in the case of sickness, any more than it is in the case of sin" (Science and Health, p. 385-6).

Her glimpse of this scientific fact at this time brought her from the threat of death back to health. In the following 45 years her vision of the Christ, Truth, gradually grew brighter and she won her way to the complete revelation of divine Science. This rich legacy - Christian Science - explains and reveals how each one of us can be free from sickness, sin, and eventually mortality itself. We can turn off the evil suggestions of a mind apart from God and accept wholeheartedly the divine Mind, God, good.

 

True humility expressed

Now accepting the good that is everywhere present is not a passive activity - far from it. It's a spiritually scientific activity. It's spiritual conviction that we can have "the mind of Christ" and praying out from that conviction with unselfed love.

Jesus was able to do the marvelous things that he did because he accepted no other mind.

He refused to believe that men could go hungry, so he fed thousands, when lean and hungry thinking was leading them to believe they had only a few loaves and fishes.

He didn't believe that so-called natural disasters were the "acts of God" we used to read about in insurance policies. He would never have gone against an "act of God" but he stilled the stormy waters when they threatened the lives of his friends.

He even set aside death itself. He refused to bow down to that so-called irresistible event, which is mistakenly believed by some to be God's will. He didn't believe God would give parents a lovely child, and then take it away for no apparent reason. Or that one could become sick and die from exposure endured in caring for a sick friend. He knew that God's thoughts, expressed in our thinking, produced no such evil results and he proved this time and again.

Jesus was completely free from any sense of egotism, any sense of a mind separate from Christ. He expressed the true humility which is required for man to express the powerful ideas of Love. Without love he couldn't have done his mighty works. Without unselfish love, we, too, can't accomplish anything worthwhile. When we have "the mind of Christ," we do express pure love, because God, divine Mind, is infinite Love itself. As we humbly relinquish human will, pride, selfishness, self-protectiveness, we begin to express the Christly love which identifies our true selfhood. Then, as with Jesus, our meekness becomes mightiness. We're able to pray with conviction and accomplish the good we want to.

For example, I know a man who was gradually losing his physical powers through the so-called aging process. He couldn't run as fast, or hit a golf ball as hard, or move about as quickly as he used to. He was somewhat disturbed by this confrontation with the seemingly irresistible forces of matter, claiming to be the relentless process of aging and decline.

As he prayed to overcome this problem he suddenly thought, "Why, I can love! I can love as well, or better, than I ever did! The passing of time, the revolution of the earth about the sun, doesn't in any way affect my ability to love. I can love more and more as time goes on." With this spiritual conviction a great sense of uplift and inspiration came to him. From that time on he became more agile, more active, less afraid of decline and decay, as he expressed more genuine spiritual love.

 

Prayer of conviction

The prayer of spiritual conviction has nothing to do with words. It's not the words we use in our prayers that matter, however precise and correct they may be. It's how scientifically we're thinking, how much we're one with our right desires and let "the mind of Christ" be in us.

We must really mean it when we pray. Really mean it like a farmer I once heard about. He had three cats. In his kitchen door he cut three holes for them to go outside. When asked why he made three holes, one for each cat, instead of letting them all use the same hole, he replied, "When I say 'scat,' I mean 'scat.' "

We can say almost anything, but it's our thoughts that express our true desires. Mrs. Eddy puts it this way: "Words may belie desire, and pour forth a hypocrite's prayer;

but thoughts are our honest conviction" ("No and Yes," p. 40). When our prayer is to express God, to have the Mind which is in Christ, and we're willing to unselfishly give up a sense of mind and personality separate from Christ, this prayer never fails. Because we're then expressing God, Truth, the one divine Mind; and the solid conviction of good comes to us because we're one with His omnipotence.

It's not you as a human, mortal being having a false sense of selfhood that heals. It's you, as you bear witness to the unselfed love of God; it's you, as you witness the truth as Christ Jesus did, the truth that man is spiritual and perfect.

A woman I knew was healed of a severe eye problem through the scientific prayer of spiritual conviction and unselfed love. She had accidentally pierced her eyeball with a metal object. Even though she was able to carry on her daily activities, she was very conscious of the pain each time she blinked her eyes. She began to be afraid she might lose her sight in that eye.

She asked for help from a Christian Science practitioner and they prayed steadily for several days. Finally, she felt she was being healed. The pain, the discomfort, and the fear disappeared. But there was still a dark clot on the surface of the eyeball. Then one day, sometime later, the eye began to hurt again, and became very uncomfortable. Fear and discouragement rushed into her thinking. She thought to herself: "Why isn't this healed? Why aren't our prayers answered, I'm praying as hard and earnestly as I can and so is the practitioner." Then it came to her, "Do I really mean it when I say I'm willing to have the Mind which was also in Christ Jesus? Do I really believe that God heals everything and is healing me?"

 

Healing experienced

She realized that while she was saying the words correctly and trying to believe them, she hadn't selflessly put her whole heart into it. She was still fearing for herself and believing that the physical condition had to change first before she was healed.

Then, she resolutely turned on these false thoughts as unacceptable. She knew they weren't from God because they weren't truly good. She insisted she didn't have to accept anything but the true and good.

Some lines of a hymn (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 134) well express her thinking!

The thought of Thee is mightier far

Than sin and pain and sorrow are.

The solid conviction of divine Truth came to her. She realized that physical conditions weren't determinative, that God had already answered her prayer, and no evidence of physical sense to the contrary could deny the spiritual fact that she was healed.

And she was! The blood clot, pain, and inflammation disappeared completely.

So whether the temptation is to do something wrong, to fear we might make a wrong decision, or be sick, we don't have to give in to it. Instead we can accept the true good that God is always pouring out for us. Accepting the one divine Mind, God, as our Mind, enables us to be in complete control of our bodies, our human experience, our lives, and they become harmonious and happy.

We find an ever-increasing awareness of our true selves as the sons and daughters of God, having the mind which was in Christ Jesus. We're capable of expressing more pure, unselfish, divine Love, the love which most clearly presents the real man. We become convinced that our scientific prayers have already been answered by divine Love, and therefore heal.

We understand that the true, the good of God is all we ever really have to accept.

 

 

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