Its Revelation of Mans God-Given Ability
James Harry McReynolds, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
There is a compelling desire in the heart of mankind to progress and to free itself from limitation, to exceed its ordinary ability. As a rule the theory is accepted that people are, or are not, endowed with ability. They think that it is a talent which has been bestowed upon some and withheld from others, and, further, that if one is fortunate the gift of ability will enable him to be successful, well, and happy. But if one is not so favored, it is sometimes thought that there is nothing to be done except to adopt the most cheerful attitude possible and accept the consequences.
What does Christian Science teach about ability? It teaches that God is the source of man's ability, that it is a spiritually mental quality and that our understanding of it increases as our understanding of God increases. The word ability, according to the dictionary, means the "power to perform." It denotes actual power indicating something to be done and the power to do it.
Ability Revealed Through Spiritual Understanding
We read in the Bible (Prov. ). "I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." It is assuring to realize that He "will make known" His words unto us, and indeed His words have been made plain to us today through the inspired teachings of Christian Science. These teachings reveal that God is infinite Spirit, divine Mind, Principle, Soul, Life, Truth, and Love, that is all-inclusive and hence that all ability, intelligence, and authority belong to Him. He is the source and creator of all, and from this it logically follows that man's ability is derived from God and does not have to be acquired, as is commonly thought, but becomes apparent as consciousness is illumined by the divine light of the Christ, Truth.
When one awakens to and becomes aware of his ability as derived from God this indicates that it has been present and available all along. An individual having ability, but who does not use it does not disprove this statement, for when one uses his ability it is evident that he has it. Understanding the multiplication table one can use it whenever and wherever he chooses. In a similar way, he can use his divinely bestowed ability whenever, and wherever he chooses because he understands its ever-available and ever-present nature. The power, or ability, to be honest is always present; the ability to think intelligently is always present, and the ability to be good, kind, charitable, and successful is always present. The ability to be healthy and manifest true substance is always at hand because God, the source of all good, is ever-present.
All the ability one needs or could wish for is to be found in his spiritual individuality. Anyone who understands and expresses his spiritual individuality will succeed, for he recognizes that God, his creator, has endowed him with authority and ability to represent Him. Paul wrote (Eph. 4:7), "Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ." And again (Phil. 1:6) "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it." Whoever has "the gift of Christ" is not fettered by inability or ignorance, and whatever appears through the divine light of the Christ is good and purposeful. Through this "gift of Christ" man has the ability to individualize infinite power, and he can no more lose his ability than he can lose his individuality.
How often we hear it said, "I'm a failure; I'm always making mistakes and never seem able to do the right thing." A good portion of the time we use the merest fraction of the ability that has been bestowed on man, and Christian Science is showing us how we can make better use of it.
The word reflection is a very meaningful one to Christian Scientists; they use it frequently and are striving continually to understand it better. The verb reflect means, in part, "to give back an image or likeness; mirror." So reflection might be thought of as an image or likeness that is given back or mirrored. This meaning is brought out in the first chapter of Genesis (), where "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."
A significant fact about reflection is that it is exactly like the original and remains like the original; nothing can be added to it nor anything taken from it. Significant, too, is the fact that it is simultaneous with the original; where the original is, the reflection is. You can understand these statements better, as an illustration, by thinking of your reflection in a mirror. The reflection does nothing that you do not do; it does not leave the mirror and return to it, but, images your position and figure at any given instant. This illustration is limited, but it serves the purpose of conveying the impression of the exact likeness of the reflection to the original.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and man is His eternal reflection. The passing of time has nothing to do with reflection; reflection is not wasting away, being used up, nor does it grow old, deteriorate, nor outlive its usefulness. Reflection is uninterrupted and undelayed; there is no such thing as delayed reflection; hence, intelligence, substance, vision, and health are immediate, undelayed, constant, uninterrupted. Man, reflecting God, manifests the full power of being, and his true ability is realized in his reflection of God. And since man is the constant image and likeness of God he cannot become sick, incapacitated, and useless.
Man is not an originator, but he possesses by reflection that which God originates. However, this is not to imply that one is to do no constructive thinking or intelligent planning; it simply takes away strain and labored action. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her book "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 183), "Man is God's image and likeness;" and she adds: "whatever is possible to God is possible to man as GOD'S reflection. Through the transparency of Science we learn this, and receive it: learn that man can fulfil the Scriptures in every instance; that if he open his mouth it shall be filled not by reason of the schools, or learning, but by the natural ability, that reflection already has bestowed on him, to give utterance to Truth."
Man has to be the likeness or reflection of something that exists and is real; he could not be the reflection of a vacuum or a nonentity. Did you ever stop to consider what inferiority, inability, ignorance, failure, poverty, and disease are reflections of? Actually they do not reflect anything, because they are negative elements of the carnal mind and the reflection of nothing is nothing, not something.
Since man is God's reflection, we can say that he is the image of perfection. God knows only His own perfect likeness of Himself, and this is all that man can know, for he reflects what God knows. Man cannot, therefore, know imperfection, because God does not know imperfection. He knows that God's ability is unlimited, ever-present, and he knows further that he has no underived ability. He is a witness to the truth that there is no imperfect likeness or reflection, no infected or impaired reflection, hence, no imperfect vision, no imperfect accomplishment, no imperfect health.
You may say, "Yes, I admit that some people seem to have plenty of ability, but what makes you think that everyone has it?" It is spiritual sense that reveals this truth about man. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 209), "Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God." Spiritual sense enables you to be a witness to the fact that divinely bestowed ability is impartially bestowed ability. It reveals to consciousness the truth that man has the constant capacity to utilize the might and intelligence of Mind, the power of Spirit; that man, as God's reflection, has within him the ability to succeed in his work, to manifest true health and substance.
Christ Jesus Demonstrated Divinely Bestowed Ability
Our great Way-shower, Christ Jesus, had a clear realization of his divinely bestowed ability because he was able to discern the difference between the false sense of ability, which the human mind claims to originate, and unlimited ability, which is perceptible only to the spiritualized or Christ-illumined human consciousness. Mindful of his sonship with God, Jesus spoke with authority and was able to prove that his ability, which seemed miraculous to the multitude, was divinely natural to the son of God.
Jesus kept the distinction clear between his human selfhood and the Christ, which he exemplified, and his teachings indicate that he expected his followers to do this also. On one occasion a young man came to him with a question, addressing him as (Matt. ) "Good Master." Before answering the question and in order to help those about him recognize this difference, he said (Matt. ), "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." Here "me" must refer to the human Jesus. On another occasion, to make sure that the disciples themselves understood his real being, he queried them regarding his true identity (Mark , 28): "Whom do men say that I am?" And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say Elias; and others, One of the prophets. In order to clear up any possible doubt in their minds on this important point, he asked them specifically their conception of his true being. Simon Peter, answering for his brethren, said, (Mark ), "Thou art the Christ." It was evident that Jesus was satisfied with the answer, for his benediction was (Matt. ), "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."
The Christ, which the carnal mind could not and does not comprehend, is understood in Christian Science to be (Science and Health, p. 583) "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." The Christ is the spiritual or incorporeal idea of God that comes to receptive human consciousness and reveals the Godlike nature of man's true being and divinely bestowed ability.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
The teachings of the Master, as well as those of the great prophets, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, found neither sympathy nor support from the religionists of their times. And in a similar way, the Leader of the Christian Science movement, Mary Baker Eddy, found that her spiritual teaching met with opposition on all sides. Those who have attempted to cut a path through the wilderness of creed, dogma, and ritual have met rebuffs, and Mrs. Eddy was no exception. Why one who professes to love and worship God should become offended at another who proves by his works that God is all the Scriptures declare Him to be seems strange indeed; perhaps it is sufficient to say that antagonism to Truth has always seemed to exist as a false claim, and this opposition is very aptly described by Paul, who said (Rom. 8:7), "The carnal mind is enmity against God."
Mrs. Eddy saw clearly that spiritual healing, as taught and practiced by Jesus a teaching which the churches had discarded as impossible of present-day fulfillment should be available and practical now. When materia medica and other material recuperative agencies had been proved ineffective and she was restored from a life of invalidism through spiritual means, it became clear to her that Jesus had utilized a scientific and unfailing method of healing, and so she set about to find its rule. During three years of prayerful study of the Bible, Jesus' method was revealed to her, and she named her discovery Christian Science, the purpose of which is stated in the Christian Science Church Manual (p. 17): "At a meeting of the Christian Scientist Association, April 12, 1879, on motion of Mrs. Eddy, it was voted, To organize a church designed to commemorate the words and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing."
In connection with her discovery Mrs. Eddy wrote (Science and Health, p. 107): "God had been graciously preparing me during many years for the reception of this final revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific mental healing." Prophecy has been fulfilled through this advent, and it only awaits mankind's acceptance in order that its manifold blessing may be realized. That this is the final and complete revelation is attested by "signs following." It is the Comforter of which Jesus said (John ), "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: . . . and he will shew you things to come."
Christian Scientists love and reverence Mrs. Eddy, but they do not worship her. She admonished us to follow her only as far as she followed Christ. Our understanding of her will be found in our love for and obedience to her revelation. It is impossible to separate her from her discovery. And a just and proper recognition of her is for us to demonstrate the divine rules of this Christ Science. Christian Science will be kept in its original purity as we see her now and forever as the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and Leader of the Christian Science movement and as we practice her teachings.
Appreciation of her lifework, obedience and loyalty to her teachings form a solid and impregnable wall against which the winds and waves of opposition and dissension beat in vain. It was Mrs. Eddy's God-inspired mission to reveal the promised Comforter, which is as complete and up-to-date as Truth itself, needing neither revision, alteration, nor addition. No one else could have done what she did any more than another could have done what Jesus did in presenting Christ to the world. A just and proper recognition of Mrs. Eddy puts the adherents of Christian Science into the advantageous position of being able to demonstrate its truths with ever-increasing ability.
Ability to Reflect Substance
What about ability to meet the demands for our daily and future needs? The answer to this question comes with the right concept of substance. Substance in general is thought of as consisting of material wealth, but in Christian Science substance is understood to be the indestructible, measureless, and undiminishing riches of God such as divine intelligence and spiritual ideas. God is the source of substance, and, like its source, substance is ever present, ever available, and unlimited. Substance is Spirit; it is the opposite of matter.
Whenever you can learn to think substantially, to think of substance as Spirit, you have it; it is at that very moment where ever you happen to be. It is equally as universal as intelligence, and it is revealed to you through spiritual understanding. Substance does not have to be manufactured, multiplied, and developed; it is available to all in its infinitude. When you learn its true nature, you learn that it cannot be used up. It is not exhausted by using it, in fact, the more you have. Substance is real to us only when we use it. We have Truth as we live it, as we think it, as we embrace it; and, similarly, we have substance as we acknowledge and embrace it.
Let me make a recommendation to you: instead of struggling to GET, learn to GIVE. Much of our time is spent in a frantic effort to acquire money, objects, and personal property. And in the end, what is attained? There is no real satisfaction nor security in money or in other material possessions. The Preacher wrote (Eccl. ): "I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit."
Real satisfaction comes as we learn to give; in fact, giving proves that we have the wherewithal to give. The struggle to GET indicates incompleteness, dissatisfaction, unrest and that one is not at peace with himself. If you are afraid to give, it shows that you do not understand what substance is, and naturally you will not have the right concept of it until you overcome your fear of giving. In Science and Health (p. 79) we read, "Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us."
An example of this truth was proved in my own experience many years ago it was proved quickly and effectively. I had a financial obligation which was long past due, and while I was eager to pay it, a sense of false pride kept me from doing it. I wanted to discharge the entire obligation in one payment; this was not altogether a bad plan, but, there was a better one from which I was to learn a much-needed lesson. I was led to pay what I could, even if it was ever so little.
One day I found that I had sufficient funds to pay a small portion of the obligation, and without further deliberation I sent what I could to my creditor. I was so joyful over this victory that my whole day was filled with great happiness. I was made still happier when, in a day or so, I received a letter from my creditor telling me that the money had reached him at a very critical time and had met a particularly urgent need. The incident marked a turning point for me, and in addition to the good I had already received, a debtor of mine came the same day and paid me five times the amount I had sent to my creditor. Furthermore, new opportunities for service were opened to me, and in a short time I was able to pay my creditor in full.
My reward came, not in receiving a sum of money, for which I was, of course, duly grateful, but in an awakening, and I experienced much satisfaction from being obedient to the law of divine Principle. I was not blessed sooner simply because I was not ready for the blessing. God's law of justice and benevolence are operating all the time, but until I was obedient and willing to make a beginning, I had placed myself outside His law, so to speak. When I learned my lesson of obedience and humility, I was brought into conformity with this divine law. Through this lesson I also learned that substance was at hand from the very beginning and that my blessing from it only awaited my acceptance.
All that stands between anyone and substance is ignorance and false thinking. As the real man, you are at one with substance. No one can separate you from substance, and no one has to pass on or get out of the way in order that you may have substance. Since substance is Spirit, Life, it does not originate in the supposititious opposite of Life, called death, and it cannot be bought with money and neither can it be squandered, misappropriated, or misspent. Substance cannot be stored up or accumulated; it is not in one place and absent in another. It is to be had through a realization or consciousness of its real nature. Substance, like divine power, can be individually expressed and made practical in human experiences.
It exists everywhere in its infinity and is ours to use as we understand it. You and I can have all the substance we need. We are limited in it only as we limit ourselves in thinking of it. Substance being spiritual, comes to man directly from God. It is not something that can be passed from one human being to another like a material inheritance, and it is not something that one possesses to the exclusion of another. No one has a corner on substance any more that he has a corner on intelligence or in the use of figures. Each individual has the ability to manifest all of the substance he needs, and it is individualized in his experience as he recognizes its spiritual and exhaustless nature.
Those who think healing through spiritual means is not applicable to our time are rejecting a fundamental portion of the Christian doctrine set forth by the Master; for it cannot be denied that spiritual healing was a cardinal point of his teaching, a point proved to be as effective and applicable today as it was in Jesus' time. And to say that it is not provable today is tantamount to saying that Truth is less powerful and less effective than it was yesterday.
Truth is God, so it follows that what Truth creates is true and perfect in the likeness of Truth. If disease were real in substance and being, this would mean that Truth is the creator of it and thus it would be coexistent and coeternal with Truth. Through prayer, which is communion with God, one realizes that disease and all discordant conditions are untrue, unreal, and he eliminates them from his experience just as he wipes out a mistake in mathematics when he finds the correct answer.
A logical question is, How does Truth heal? Perhaps the best answer to this will come as you apply and demonstrate Truth for yourself. However, let me offer briefly a few thoughts which may prove helpful to you. There is nothing so simple and free as Truth, but it demands obedience and purity, singleness of purpose, diligence, and accuracy in application. The divine law of Truth operates truthfully, faithfully, and effectively under all circumstances and on all occasions, and it never fails to establish harmony and to destroy evil's false claims.
Through spiritual means alone, Jesus healed the impotent man of an infirmity he had had thirty-eight years. In John (5:8,9,14) we read: "Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked. . . . Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more lest a worse thing come unto thee." The sin referred to could have been resentment, self-pity, criticism, jealousy, or any number of things. When Jesus said "sin no more" he made the cause unmistakably clear.
Sin, obviously, is mental, and Jesus healed the man of his difficulty by destroying the sin which had produced it. He saw that the erroneous condition was a lie or mistaken belief about man; he saw further that it was as mortally mental as sin itself, and that only pure Truth, God, could heal it. Jesus knew what Christian Science is teaching today, that since sin and disease are not in God, they cannot he in His image and likeness or reflection, man. This enables us to see that disease, whether bodily or otherwise, is a mistaken concept or false belief about man, a lie in other words, and that man, God's reflection, does not have to be changed. It is only our thinking about man that needs correcting.
"But," you say, "how can I prove this?" When you see evil is a lie, you are no longer deceived by it. When the truth about man's health and well-being appears as the only reality, the lie or misconception vanishes from consciousness in that very instant. As the law of harmony is brought to bear on an erroneous situation the condition is healed, and it is thus recognized that this law is the spirit of Truth, Truth which because of its absolute purity operates with scientific certainty. A lie a false belief or illusion does not originate in Truth and has no connection with Truth. Jesus called the devil a liar and the father of it. So when the devil is talking, lying, it is talking about itself and to itself; it is not talking about you as the reflection of God, for it doesn't know you; it is incapable of knowing you, and when you stop believing its lie, you are free.
Did it ever occur to you that one lie is exactly like another, in that both are untrue? The same thing, of course, applies to false beliefs or illusions. As an illustration, an illusion of a cancer is no more real or dangerous than an illusion of mumps: both are illusions, and one has no more reality than the other, and they are perfectly harmless when you see that they are illusions. What is the difference between a present illusion and a past illusion, or a future illusion? Is one any more real than the other? The only difference, I might say, is in the time element. You are more willing to admit that the disease of yesterday was an illusion, but not so inclined to admit that the one you experience today is an illusion. An illusion is no more real than the fear which seems to have produced it, and it is the Christ, Truth alone, which destroys error. As Jesus said (John ), "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." This freedom or deliverance from sin, sickness, and death which Truth bestows is salvation.
Synonymous Terms for God
We have been thinking here of God as Truth, which the Bible declares Him to be, and in addition to Truth there are six other terms for God in Christian Science, which express His full and complete nature. They are Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, and Love. These terms have the same essential meaning; therefore we call them synonyms. Individually they elucidate a particular aspect of God, and taken together they reveal His absolute and entire bring. Our concept of God expands through an increased understanding of these deific synonyms.
Of all the apostles none perhaps understood God as Truth any more clearly than Paul. His great ability sprang from spiritual integrity which made him courageous, loyal, sincere, and straightforward. His knowledge of the reality of Truth made him a convincing speaker, an untiring worker, and a devoted follower of Christ. Knowing God to be the only power he was able to say (Phil. 4:13) "I can do all things, through Christ (Truth) which strengtheneth me."
There is nothing to prevent you, as Truth's perfect expression, from knowing God as Paul did and saying with authority that you can understand Truth; therefore, you can demonstrate it accurately and effectively. Truth empowers you to think intelligently, to be confident in your work and just in your dealings with your fellowmen. Truth is unfailing, and you cannot fail because with Truth, God, all things are possible.
When Moses, the Hebrew lawgiver, was directed by God to lead the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, he seriously doubted his ability, but God disclosed Himself to Moses in such a convincing way that he could not distrust the Almighty. God revealed Himself as I AM, as Mind, the source of all intelligence and ability. God was saying to Moses in substance: I AM [will be with you; Mind will protect you and tell you what to say and do.
In thinking of God as Mind you would be justified in knowing that as Mind's expression you have divine intelligence to direct you, therefore you cannot make mistakes. Divine intelligence is your intelligence, and divinely bestowed ability is your ability. You reflect Mind, so your vision is clear and your hearing is unobstructed. Since Mind is consciousness you are always aware of your inseparable relationship to God, Mind.
Jacob, another Bible character, in the early part of his life was materially ambitious and crafty in his business dealings, but was forced to learn through a mighty struggle that human ability, strength, and shrewdness had to be replaced by spiritual qualities. So really his struggle was not with Esau but with his ignorance of God, Spirit, and when he became willing to turn from his deceitful ways he obtained God's blessing. With the victory there came a reconciliation with his brother Esau and a better understanding of Spirit, a more abundant manifestation of substance, and an exalted sense of power.
Recognizing that you are in reality the expression of Spirit, God, you can know that you can utilize divine power because you have the right sense of it and your use of it blesses you and all with whom you associate. Spirit empowers you with courage, enthusiasm, inspiration, and perseverance. Your needs are abundantly supplied through a knowledge of the inexhaustible nature of substance. Spirit is the source of your ability, and you can individualize it in your daily work.
No one understood God as Soul more clearly than the Master, Christ Jesus; Through Soul one can recognize his true being, his true self. Jesus entertained no doubts about his origin, ability, and. destiny. He said (John ), "I know whence I came, and whither I go;" and (John ), "I and my Father are one." This is to say that Jesus was one in being, in intelligence, in ability with the Father. In Science and Health (p. 52) it is written of Jesus: "The highest earthly representative of God, speaking of human ability to reflect divine power, prophetically said to his disciples, speaking not for their day only but for all time: 'He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also,' and 'These signs shall follow, them that believe.' "
As the representative of Soul, God, you can rightfully say that you are at one with God. You, have "the mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2:16) and are able to recognize and utilize your God-given ability. You have an awareness of true being, true consciousness, and true substance. Soul's saving grace delivers mankind from a feeling of inability, self- condemnation, and self-depreciation. It confers divinely bestowed ability to individualize spiritual power in the expression of real being.
Mrs. Eddy revealed to mankind the nature of God as divine Principle. She wrote (No and Yes p. 20): "When understood, Principle is found to be the only term that fully conveys the ideas of God, one Mind, a perfect man, and divine Science." It was revealed to her that all law and causation are based on Principle, and her obedience to divine Principle endowed her with ability to accomplish her great mission. She knew Principle to be Love, and this inspired and impelled her to labor unselfishly and untiringly in order to give her discovery, Christian Science, to the world.
Knowing that man is the expression of divine Principle you can say that you have the law of divine Principle to guide and protect you. You can succeed in your Christian work, because Principle underlies all of your activities. Principle is really your Father-Mother God. It upholds you, and you cannot fail. Your ability is derived from Principle; thus it is never depleted and is instantly and constantly available.
In thinking of God as Life we recall that there is a great Bible character who seems to typify this deific synonym. Elijah proved that God is eternal and ever-present Life by raising the son of the woman of Zarephath from the dead. Further, he was so conscious of the fact that Life is God, that in the presence of Elisha he was translated without experiencing death. It is also recorded that later he and Moses appeared to Peter, James, and John at the time of Jesus' transfiguration, thus proving that man possesses eternal life.
You and I can prove the immortality of Life as Elijah did. As the manifestation of Life you can know that you are the individualized expression of Life. You are manifesting health, continuity of being, and immortality. Disease cannot come into your life, because you are (Col. 3:3) "hid with Christ in God." God created you to manifest eternal being, so you live because He lives.
None of the prophets and none of
the disciples had a more exalted sense of God as Love than John. Love enabled
him to understand the life and mission of Christ Jesus, and he never wavered in
this understanding. He proved that to love is to live. When he was banished to
the bleak isle of
What John knew and proved about Love you and I can know and prove. You can say that as Love's expression your protection is assured. You live in Love, which destroys all fear, anxiety, and worry. Love leads and guides you; it illuminates your way. Love supplies your every need. You dwell in Love, and thus it encircles, enfolds, and encompasses your being.
At the beginning of the lecture it was established that God is the source of man's ability and that as one's understanding of God increases, his ability is increased. And further, that one reflects God-given ability in the manifestation of spiritual substance and in healing the sick.
And now let me conclude with a portion of David's beautiful prayer in which he so eloquently acknowledges God's power as the source of man's ability (I Chron. 29:11,13): "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; . . . and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name."
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, July 14, 1955.]