The Art of Helping Others through Christian Science
Naomi Price, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
After many years of "people watching" I've come to the conclusion that at some time just about everybody wants to help somebody – a troubled relative, perhaps, a crippled friend, a bereaved neighbor. Or maybe it's the suffering of a whole group of people that stirs in us a deep compassionate longing to help – starving children in a third world country, victims of an earthquake or of an industrial disaster.
Sometimes, of course, we can show our compassion by giving money to a relief fund, or by sending a thoughtful gift. And these signs of our concern are valuable. They will probably be gratefully received. But if we do this we're often still left with an uneasy feeling of inadequacy - a feeling that such gestures of goodwill are not enough to make a really fundamental healing contribution to the situation. We may long to know how to do more – how to get to the root of the problem and solve it completely.
At this point, if we're Bible readers, we may wistfully remember the accounts of healing and marvelously effective relief work described in both the Old and New Testaments. We may recall how the patriarchs and prophets and, later, Christ Jesus and his disciples, healed individuals, fed multitudes, and averted disasters centuries ago through spiritual means alone. We may wonder how they did it and how they would deal with the tragic situations we are faced with today.
How Christ Jesus Helped Others
Jesus in particular was master of the art of helping others, and he not only taught his followers his method of healing but constantly demonstrated it for their guidance. Surely, if we thoroughly study the gospel accounts of his life and teaching we should be able to follow his example and develop in ourselves, at least to some extent, the Christian art of helping others. He specifically said that everyone who believed on him could heal. His immediate followers certainly did. Isn't it reasonable to expect in this age to do so too? He didn't specify any time limit to the promise. In fact, he predicted that eventually we would be able to do even greater works than he did. He indicated that through God's grace, what he called "the Comforter," or "the Spirit of truth," would come and then mankind would be able to understand his teaching more deeply and fully and be even better equipped than the people of his time to heal discord and establish harmony on earth.
Well, that comforting revelation has now come, and it's available to the world in the form of Christian Science. For over a century now, people have been finding that Christian Science enables them to discern more distinctly than ever before the Principle back of the Master's teaching and healing work. And it shows them how to practice Christian healing themselves in this age.
We read in the gospels that Christ Jesus expressed great love for mankind. He looked with compassion upon individuals who were crippled and diseased, and on multitudes who, as the Bible says, "fainted, and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd."1 But his was a special kind of compassionate love. He didn't pity people in the sense of suffering with them. Instead he healed them through the understanding of God's power and love. He taught the nature of God as infinite, divine Life and Love. He explained to all who would listen that God is omnipresent, divine Spirit, the only power that exists. There is none else.
Jesus also taught that God is the one Father of all, the only creator of the universe and man. So, since the people God made must be like Him - His image and likeness, as the Bible puts it - every individual must be wholly spiritual, invariably active and perfect, governed by the law of Life and Love. The Master insisted that man made by God is invariably under God's protection. That he is amply supplied with everything he needs. (If you're familiar with the Bible you'll remember how Jesus drew a lesson from the ravens and the lilies of the field – how God feeds and clothes them abundantly and beautifully).2 He taught that man dwells in the kingdom of heaven – God's kingdom – forever conscious of being whole and healthy.
This is the truth of God's being and of man's actual, spiritual nature. And the Master taught that when we really understand the perfection of God and the consequent perfection of man and live moment by moment according to this understanding, we will see God's goodness demonstrated in our lives. That's to say, when we not only intellectually acknowledge divine Love as man's Maker, but honestly abandon the concept of being a deprived, sick mortal and feel convinced instead that we express the affluence of Love's qualities and arc governed by Love's law of harmony, we will know ourselves to be perpetually whole and harmonious. And we will be able to help others to know themselves as perfect, too. Our friends and neighbors will be healed and comforted through the action of the Christly understanding of divine law.
Whenever Christ Jesus preached
this message of divine Truth and Love to the inhabitants of what we now call
The Master's message was the revelation of God's true nature as infinite, divine Love and the perfection of man in God's likeness. And he demonstrated through healing that acceptance of his message of God's allness, and strict obedience to it in thought and deed, eliminates not only the false belief but any physical evidence of there being another power or presence – of there being any discord, infirmity, or death. Healing was the sign of Jesus' Messiahship, the authentication of his mission to define the Christ, the true idea of God, to the world.
The Bible tells us that multitudes followed Jesus because of his healing works. And later on multitudes followed his disciples, too, because of the healings they accomplished. Evidently there were thousands of sick and handicapped people in that land – people who were ignorant of the infinite power of God, good, and the true, perfect nature of man in God's likeness, and who were suffering from this ignorance as a consequence. Many longed to be whole and well themselves, and many longed for friends and relatives to be well. On one occasion a nobleman came to Jesus wanting healing for his son. Another time, a centurion begged him to heal his servant. Then four men carried their paralyzed friend to him for help, and a man called Jairus implored him to raise his daughter from her death bed.
How the Early Christians Healed
All these people who came to Jesus asking for help for people they loved saw healing take place through the Master's understanding of the true nature of God and man. Years later, others brought their sick relatives and friends to the Apostles – Jesus followers – to be healed, and they were. Not only the Founder of Christianity practiced spiritual healing, but his disciples did too – men such as Peter and John, Paul and Barnabas. They healed all kinds of disease and discord. Jesus had said they would if they "believed" – a word which in the Hebrew implies firmness and fidelity. And they did.
Some bystanders were so impressed that they thought the disciples must be gods with supernatural powers of healing. But of course, the disciples knew it was not by their own power that these wonderful things occurred but through understanding the power of God. Their Master had told them of God's infinite, unchanging love and the perfection of the universe and man that Deity had created, and he had constantly demonstrated most skillfully that when we understand and faithfully hold to these spiritual truths they displace imperfection, change our characters from bad to good, and heal all kinds of human distress.
In view of all the good he accomplished it's surprising to read in the gospels that while multitudes followed him, Jesus met with bitter resistance to his message of God's supremacy. The traditional theologians would have none of it. They accused him of heresy and even tried to kill him. Some looked upon him as the leader of a dangerous cult that should be stamped out. But Christianity was no mere theory or cult. It was no passing fad of the human mind that was dependent on a magnetic personality for its existence. The spiritual facts Christ Jesus taught were eternal truths that could be proved.
Evidently these seemed revolutionary to some of the scholarly people of Jesus' time, but his doctrine was well founded. It sprang from the teachings of the patriarchs and prophets who had lived before him, and it went farther to reveal not only the great facts of God's all-power and everpresence but also what these imply – the nothingness of anything unlike God. It established the concept of "Immanuel," – a Hebrew word meaning "God with us" – with startling logic and healing consequences. The power of this Christian teaching was undeniable. Moreover, it was proved to be practical to those who understood Jesus' teaching and followed his example. Those could prove it who would not only give lip service to the fact of God's allness, but would resolutely reject false suggestions that evil of any kind exists to challenge God's authority, or to harm or destroy what God has created perfect and eternal.
Scientific Christian Healing Today
The Master's promise still stands: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also."4 Although for many centuries it was obscured by the belief that the power to heal was a personal gift – available only to Jesus himself and occasionally, perhaps, to some exceptional individual upon whom God might see fit to bestow it – that promise is still valid. Anyone who believes on him (deeply and sincerely accepts his teachings, changing and spiritualizing his thought in accordance with them) can heal. This was proved more than a century ago by one of the Master's more recent followers – and I must say, one of the most devoted of all time, Mary Baker Eddy. Few people can have studied Jesus' teachings and prayed more earnestly to understand and put them into practice than Mrs. Eddy did.
All her life she had longed to help others as Jesus did. We know this from one of her later books entitled Retrospection and Introspection. In its ninety-five pages she gives an account of her early life, her yearning to understand God and follow in the steps of Christ Jesus in healing suffering humanity, and of her discovery of Christian Science. And it's interesting to see that it ends with a verse from a poem by A. E. Hamilton. It's as though this sums up her whole life purpose:
Ask God to give thee skill
In comfort's art:
That thou may'st consecrated be
And set apart
Unto a life of sympathy.
For heavy is the weight of ill
In every heart;
And comforters are needed much
Of Christlike touch.5
Well, Mrs. Eddy's prayer for understanding that would enable her to practice the same skill in comfort's art that Jesus demonstrated was answered. She discerned the divine Science of spiritual healing as the Master practiced it. That's to say, she saw that his power to heal came through his total allegiance to the understanding that God, good, is all-power and all-presence, and that His law of harmony ensures that His creations are maintained in His perfect likeness. And with the utmost dedication she devoted herself to proving the healing efficacy of this Christly understanding today, and to teaching the art of Christian healing to others.
The result was, as in Jesus' time, healing in this age for men, women, and children. Healing of all kinds of discord and disease. Healing of physical, mental, organic, and dispositional discord. Healing of acute and chronic disease.
It is over a century ago now that Mrs. Eddy discovered this divine Principle that heals. The first glimpse came to her in 1866, more than eighteen centuries after Christ Jesus prophesied the coming of the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth that, he said, would "Lead into all truth." She quickly saw that there was need of the same kind of evidence of its authenticity that was required when Christianity first dawned on human consciousness. The world must recognize that as a result of adopting this understanding into thought, and putting it into practice, "the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised."6 These are the inevitable signs of Immanuel, signs that the understanding of God's presence is truly with us. We have to see them. They are always essential concomitants of the coming of the Christ, the true idea of God, to humanity. And God again provided them in abundance through Mrs. Eddy's enlightened faith and understanding.
From that time on remarkable
healings are known to have taken place through her practice of Christian
Science. To her joy she had discovered how to help others effectively –
something she had always longed to do. At first these healings occurred mainly
in the New
For instance, in 1867 she healed her niece who was diagnosed as suffering from enteritis after typhoid fever – a case that the attending physician had pronounced hopeless. A little later, a printer on a local newspaper was healed of inflammatory rheumatism. A man who wore an iron shoe eight or nine inches high because of a leg injury, sustained by falling from a building, was so completely healed that he no longer needed the special shoe. His leg straightened and elongated through Mrs. Eddy's prayer.
In less than a week a woman who was blind had her sight restored. A child, who had apparently just died from what was called brain fever, was restored within an hour, and his grateful mother reported that he was healed not only of the physical illness but of a bad disposition as well. A cripple whose legs and arms were so contracted that he had to be strapped to crutches was healed. He was able to walk freely about an hour after Mrs. Eddy talked to him.
God, Divine Principle, Is the Healing Power
How were these remarkable healings
accomplished? Perhaps we can learn something from a statement by Mrs. Eddy's
own granddaughter, Mary Baker Glover. She was named after her grandmother. She
had been healed of crossed eyes when she was three years old. The family then
Some days later, George arrived
back home in
How could such a cure be brought
about so simply when the healer was so far distant from the patient?
In the same way that Christ Jesus healed the nobleman's son without actually visiting him. The Bible tells us that the fever left the boy at the exact hour when his father talked with Jesus and the Master said, "Thy son liveth."8
Jesus healed through the power of God's universal law of divine Principle, Love, which operates universally whenever it is acknowledged. He knew God, infinite good, to be the only power and presence. He understood Him to be the one creator of all, perfect Truth and Love, infinite Spirit, immortal Mind, the eternal Life and Soul of the entire universe. And he knew the real, spiritual man – the only man there truly is – to be the expression of God including all His sublime qualities.
As Mrs. Eddy discerned through her
deep and reverent study of the Master's teaching and healing works, it was his
fidelity to the First Commandment, "Thou shall have no other gods before
me,"9 that caused him to know and acknowledge only the
unchanging perfection of man in the likeness of God, and to live up to this vision by expressing unfailingly in
his daily life only the qualities of God. His obedience made it impossible for
him to think of man as imperfect – an individual who had
been created with a flaw in his character or body, or who was liable to deteriorate.
When the nobleman in
This was an aspect of the divine
Principle of Christian healing that Mrs. Eddy glimpsed in 1866 and which she
worked diligently to understand and practice herself
and to teach others. Surely, then, when her son spoke of his daughter's crossed
eyes Mrs. Eddy was moved by more than grandmotherly concern to answer as she
did, "You must be mistaken, George. Her eyes are all right." Her love
transcended the human affection that mourns over an apparent disability and
worries about it. It bore witness to her loyalty to the one God and her perfect
love for Him who created man and made each individual perfect without spot or
blemish. Such love is Christly love. It reflects divine Love, God. It is not
surprising, therefore, that the little girl in
What encouragement for grandparents of today! Their true, spiritual sense of God's love can heal their grandchildren! And grandchildren can heal their grandparents. In fact, we can all help others through our love, if that love is the reflection of divine Love, God, the perfect Principle of the spiritual universe and man. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy writes of the Master's method of healing: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick."10 Surely, there can be no more Christian love than to behold the perfect man that God made "where sinning mortal man appears to mortals." And this is what Science and Health urges us all to do.
It makes clear the fact that Christian Science is not speculative. It came to Mrs. Eddy through revelation but it is pragmatic and highly practical. Even though some people who have not given it the deep, spiritual thought it requires may look upon it as fanciful theory, even a heretical cult that should be denied – just as Jesus' enemies looked upon his teaching in the first years of the Christian era – Christian Science is rational, based on reason, and it's logical in its reasoning from a basis of divine Principle. Furthermore it is provable by anyone who will put it into practice strictly in accord with the law of God.
Mrs. Eddy refers to the divine Principle of Christian Science as "apodictical."11 That means it is absolutely irrefutable and demonstrable. And its adherents have proved it to be so for more than one hundred years. Thousands have testified to its therapeutic power and gratefully acknowledged healings they have experienced, healings of physical and mental disease, of broken bones, of addictions and aberrations. And more thousands have gratefully told of the many ways in which this Science has enabled them to help others.
Healing in a Prison Cell
Let me tell you of one that came
to my notice recently. It concerns a Christian Scientist who served for a
number of years as chaplain in a
In this case the young man – let's call him Bill – was, at the time, a mainline drug addict, and he had been charged with first degree murder. When he was placed in a maximum security cell he was in a state of deep mental depression, overcome by fear and guilt. As he sat down disconsolately on his bed – the only place there was to sit – he realized he had landed on a book that the previous occupant had left behind. It was Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook of Christian Science that I've just been talking about. Having nothing else to do he quickly read the whole book from cover to cover in one night. Well, that's no way to read a deeply spiritual treatise on Christian healing that consists of six hundred pages, and from Bill's prejudiced point of view the discussion made no sense. But the next day he found himself drawn to the book again. This time he read it more carefully and was more receptive, and he asked to see the Christian Science chaplain.
The first few interviews were not easy. The sense of guilt and self-condemnation, fear and remorse were so strong that at times Bill was quite incoherent, and even relapsed into uncontrollable sobbing. He seemed dominated by depression and hopelessness. But the chaplain would not accept this false view of man. He persisted in claiming the presence of the real, spiritual man – the true idea of God – and the actual perfection of that man, God's spiritual image and likeness, right there in the prison cell. Like the good Samaritan, that famous character of Jesus' parable, who bound up the wounds of the man who fell among thieves and poured in oil and wine,12 he lovingly brought Christly understanding and inspiration to Bill's suffering thought of himself.
Gradually a great change took place. Bill became calm and serene. His physical appearance improved. And within two weeks he was healed of drug addiction and alcoholism. Later he was so freed from the sense of guilt and self-condemnation that his whole thought blossomed with new dignity and self-respect. He seemed like a new man. You'll hardly be surprised to hear that in due course, and through due process of law, the charges against him were reduced, and eventually, in view of the obvious mental rehabilitation, he was released from prison and later from parole in a much shorter time than had previously been thought possible. Bill has now rejoined society, finished his schooling, and is happily employed. Need I add: he has also become a member of the Church of Christ, Scientist. And this means that in his turn he is now dedicated to practicing the Christly art of helping others through the understanding of God as divine Truth, Life, and Love, and man in God's image and likeness.
When Mrs. Eddy and her followers
organized the Church of Christ, Scientist, they passed a format resolution
establishing that its purpose is two-fold. It is "designed to commemorate the
word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and
its lost element of healing."13 I quote from the
Manual of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ,
In Science and Health we find this sentence by Mrs. Eddy: "The sunlight glints from the church-dome, glances into the prison-cell, glides into the sick-chamber, brightens the flower, beautifies the landscape, blesses the earth."14
Healing in a Sick Chamber
We have seen what the effect of the sunlight of the understanding of God's power and grace can be in the prison cell. Let me tell you of a recent incident in a sickroom – just one of the thousands that could be told. This was the experience of a woman who is herself dedicated to bringing the sunlight of Truth into the sick chamber in a very special way. She is a qualified Christian Science Nurse – one who has a good knowledge of the method of Christian Science healing practice and who also has been trained for several years in skills needed to take good care of the sick.
One day she suddenly found herself immobilized and in acute pain as the result of a back injury. She could hardly move, and needed skilled nursing help from her colleagues until her healing had taken place through Christian Science treatment.
Again, perhaps we can see a
parallel between her situation and the man who fell among thieves on the
On the third day the healing came. The patient was able to walk and go home. Within a very short time she was back at work again carrying out her duties as a nurse, helping others. But now these duties meant even more to her than before. She was full of gratitude for the demonstration of Christ-healing that she had just experienced. More than that, she felt rededicated to the purpose of bringing the light of Love into the sickroom for the benefit of others. She now prays even more earnestly to God for "skill in comfort's art," and we can be sure that this prayer will be answered through God's grace, as deep, selfless, spiritual prayer always is.
We can all help to eliminate human suffering and establish harmony on earth by knowing the spiritual truth of God's perfect nature and the eternal presence of the perfect man created by Him in His likeness. The early Christians did much to carry on the crusade against evil so effectively begun by Christ Jesus. And in this century that movement has continued with new impetus through the discovery of Christian Science.
There is still much to be done. "Comforters are needed much of Christlike touch." But the Christian art of helping others is within reach of us all. We should not despair. Through the understanding of God's infinite power that Christian Science gives us we can all become effective in helping the whole world. We can bring the light of Truth into human consciousness with strong and certain consequences of healing.
1. Matthew 9:36
2. See Luke 12:24,27
3. Luke 7:20-23
4. John 14:12
5. Retrospection and Introspection, p. 93
6. Luke 7:22
7. Clifford P. Smith, Historical Sketches, (The Christian Science Publishing Society, Boston, 1934) pp. 65-76
8. John 4:53
9. Exodus 20:3
10. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 476
11. Ibid., p. 107
12. See Luke 10:34
13. Manual of The
14. Science and Health, p. 516