Christian Science: The Power to Uplift
James G. Rowell, C.S.B., of Kansas City, Missouri
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The history of humanity shows plainly that ignorance and despotism have worked together in an attempt to hold mankind in bondage. When carefully examined, these enemies of freedom are resolved into one, and that one is ignorance. Despotism of whatever nature flourishes in the soil of ignorance. Where the light of true education shines, despotism cannot live. Jesus knew the remedy. He said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." The truth about any thing or circumstance corrects every lie previously entertained as true about that thing or circumstance.
How easily this is seen! Perhaps you have a friend who has been misrepresented and maligned by political or personal enemies. You, who know him well, love him for his honesty, his uprightness, his kindness and generosity. You know his true character and cannot be deceived by either ignorant or malicious lies about him. Perhaps someone may say, "Yes, but where there is so much smoke there must be some fire." In a little volume entitled "The Kingship of Self-control" there is an illuminating reply to this insinuating statement. "Yes," the author says, "but the fire may be only the fire of malice, the incendiary firing of the reputation of another by the lighted torch of envy thrown into the innocent facts of a life of superiority." One who had read this passage wrote in the margin the one word, "true." Though this be true in your friend's case, the facts of his irreproachable life poured into every willing ear will alone correct the lies about him and make his reputation match his true character. The truth, only, will free him from all ignorant and malicious false beliefs held about him.
In like manner, Truth alone will correct all ignorant and malicious false beliefs, entertained in human consciousness about God, man and the universe. These false beliefs left to themselves would multiply, whereas they, should be discerned and denied.
The Serpent Lifted Up In the Wilderness
The Bible tells us that when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness a number of them died every day from serpent bites. The children of Israel entertained the prevailing belief that the serpents in this certain locality were deadly pests; but this is no proof that they were or are so. It is an indication simply that mortals seem to be capable of entertaining an incorrect, fearful, mortal, and material sense of existence and that this false belief may manifest itself in more and more devious errors.
Moses, their spiritually-minded leader, must have realized that the poison from which his people were suffering originated in their incorrect and fearful concept of reality. In Christian Science, we call this mortal-mindedness, or the belief of mind in matter. He saw that the remedy was divine Mind, true intelligence, in which could be found the true concept of everything that the physical senses behold. He began, therefore, to correct through intelligence, revelation, and reason, the false, beliefs which he recognized as the cause of the afflictive testimony of the physical senses. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and the author of its textbook. "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.'' wrote (p. 515), "The serpent, of God's creating is neither subtle, nor poisonous, but is a wise idea, charming in its adroitness, for Love's ideas are subject to the Mind which forms them, — the power which changeth the serpent into a staff."
Moses, in his effort to understand God and His universe, had, before this, grappled with and overcome his fear of evil as a power opposed to God, good. Mrs. Eddy comments on this experience of Moses as set forth in Exodus 4:3 and 4 as follows (Science and Health, p. 321): "When, led by wisdom to cast down his rod, he saw it become a serpent, Moses fled before it; but wisdom bade him come back and handle the serpent, and then Moses' fear departed." When through awakened spiritual understanding Moses saw the truth about the situation, this corrected concept caused him to lose his fear and became a staff, a support on which to lean in his progress Spiritward. In his wilderness experience Moses doubtless understood the serpent of God's creating as a charming, useful, harmonious, and adroit idea, something even essential to the full expression of divine intelligence — Life, Truth and Love — and its infinite qualities and characteristics. This true understanding, of the real serpent of God's creating protected Moses from having to share the experiences of the ignorant and fearful among his people.
Moses did not organize groups of men to search out and exterminate material serpents, to remove their fangs or even to regulate or tame them. But he did make immune to poison those who later might be bitten by them. Here is the patience of the saints. He "lifted up the serpent in the wilderness." From the midst of fear and confusion, he brought his people to the very vestibule of Spirit. The record tells us that in this particular instance of instructing the minds of mortals from fear to confidence, from discord to harmony, Moses, at the command of wisdom, caused a serpent to be made of brass and placed upon a standard. The record tells us, too, that those who thereafter faithfully followed Moses' instruction for thought improvement suffered no harm, even though some of them were bitten. He doubtless changed, in a degree at least, their concept of the serpent. No longer was it an object of loathing and dread to them.
Paul proved the viper to be harmless when, after his shipwreck on the Isle of Melita, he shook off the serpent that had fastened itself to his hand and felt no harm, although those about him expected him to fall dead suddenly in their midst. Our textbook states (p. 514), "All of God's creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible."
We can learn many lessons from Moses' experience in lifting up the serpent in the wilderness, some of which I shall try to make clear.
We can readily see that it is animality that causes serpents as well as people to strike or to strike back at others. The motivating cause for such action is a false concept of self-preservation. This deflection of mortal mind, as expressed in a false sense of nature, presupposes that life is in matter, and that to preserve life, individual life or, indeed, the life of a nation, mortals must strike first or at least strike back in defense. But God, Spirit, is the preserver of man, who is made in His image and likeness. God is the protector of the righteous nation and its government, too, as is shown many times in Bible history.
It is plain from this experience of Moses that no one can, with impunity, worship, fear, hate or contemplate with contempt or superiority his brother man or any of the lesser ideas of God. Christian Science teaches the brotherhood of man and bases this teaching on the fact of man's true nature as God's expression or representative. All of God's ideas, held together by the spiritual forces of adhesion, cohesion, and attraction, work together in perfect harmony, each individual identity doing its own work under God's law of reflection and not interfering with another. Adhesion, cohesion, and attraction, being spiritual, operate only between these ideas and the divine Mind in which they exist. These properties of God are governed by His laws. There is no law which can be invoked to hold a false belief to a right idea. Through application of this truth to various problems of human discord, cancers have been healed, tumors have been dissolved, and other unnatural growths have disappeared. Families have been reunited when it was realized that Spirit is the only attraction and that there is no law whereby evil can fasten itself to one of God's representatives.
We may infer from Moses' experience that indulgence in error of thought or judgment, in the form of fear, ignorance, or sin, poisons, in belief, the human body by interrupting or disrupting its normal functioning and results in disease and even death unless the error is seen and corrected.
By the people's freedom from death from serpent bites, after they had seen the serpent lifted up in the wilderness, it is shown that the correction of any and finally of all false concepts and errors of judgment in the relationship of one creature to another heals that particular relationship, producing harmony where discord had been experienced. It does it just as certainly as the correction of mistakes in the solution of a problem in arithmetic results in a correct and harmonious answer.
Likewise, we may reason from Moses' example that the concept of every object in material sense, be it animal, vegetable, or mineral in nature, must eventually be "lifted up" in the minds of men until its true, mental, spiritual, and eternal identity is seen as an expression of God, the one and only creator. For back of every object in material sense of whatever nature is a spiritual fact: and eventually this spiritual idea or fact must be recognized as the only reality. The "lifting up" of the mortal concept of any of God's ideas is merely seeing that particular idea and its individual identities as God, divine Mind, sees them. In other words, it is having that Mind in us "which was also in Christ Jesus."
Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 295), "Infinite Spirit being all, mortal consciousness will at last yield to the scientific fact and disappear, and the real sense of being, perfect and forever intact, will appear."
The Son of Man Lifted Up
Christ Jesus summarized in a single sentence the work to be performed by each human being to enable him to put off mortality — sin, sickness, and death — and to put on immortality — strict purity, harmony, and life eternal. He declared, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should never perish, but have eternal life." That the Master assumed this burden of proof as a demonstration of his true selfhood and as an example for mankind, was unmistakably evidenced by both his words and his works. He declared, "I am come that they (all mankind) might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Every case of healing that Christ Jesus performed was the direct result of the lifting up of consciousness from the material to the spiritual, from the human to the divine. The Discoverer of Christian Science puts it thus (Science and Health, pp. 476. 477): "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."
To be able to follow the Master's example, men must discern and appreciate what it was in Jesus that enabled him to do the mighty works so mysterious to the human mind. For this reason, Jesus was especially desirous of having people understand him aright. At one time he asked his disciples, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man [that is, of Mary] am?" They replied, ''Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets." That Jesus repudiated this explanation was evidenced by his next question, "But whom say ye that I am?" Without hesitation, Simon Peter replied, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter's statement completely satisfied the Master because he realized that Peter's consciousness had been lifted up — spiritualized — to the extent that he was able to see that the so-called "Son of man" was not the "son of man, the offspring of the flesh" (Science and Health, p. 594) at all, but was, in very Truth, the "Son of God," of Spirit. Mrs. Eddy puts it (Science and Health, p. 468), "Man is not material; he is spiritual."
Peter's recognition of the Son of God as the true nature of the Master was evidence that the great Teacher could awaken others to their spiritual heritage, their God-bestowed ability to see as the one divine Mind sees His spiritual creation. If Peter could see the true nature of the Master, others also could see it. Then, too, if they could lift up the son of man as presented by Jesus, who plainly expressed only Godlike qualities and characteristics, they would also be able to lift up consciousness to the place where they could behold the true, spiritual selfhood of every individual upon whom their thought rested. Jesus began the one form of prayer which he gave us with the address, "Our Father," meaning not only his Father but yours and mine. This shows that Jesus knew that we are all, in Truth, the sons of God.
The great Teacher was, indeed, satisfied because he had accomplished in Peter what he had set out to do: he had taught him to lift up the son of man — that is, to see that a man's true selfhood is as a son of God. The Master commended Peter for his quickened consciousness and added, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." It was Simon's spiritualized consciousness that cheered the Master and brought from him the declaration. "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock [the spiritual discernment of the true selfhood of the son of man as the son of God] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
The church which Jesus purposed building is, as Mrs. Eddy words it (Science and Health, p. 583), "that institution which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick." The very foundation of this church is the recognition of the spiritual fact that the so-called son of man is, in Truth, the son of God. This spiritual fact heals sickness and sin, comforts the sorrowing, supplies the needy, rests and uplifts with spiritual joy the weary and heavy-laden. Without this spiritual understanding, the Church of Christ, Scientist, would be barren of the spiritual power which enables it to minister to every human need.
The church which Christ Jesus established included healing, not only the healing of sorrow and sin, but of sickness. The sick as well as the sinning can turn to God, divine Mind, and find freedom. God's love reaches out through His laws to every one. Those who need healing from sickness are not at the mercy of non-intelligent, compassionless matter, nor of the erring human mind. They need only turn from dependence upon matter and its modes to Spirit, God, and put themselves under the care of infinite intelligence to find the way out. And this way out is always found in lifting up the son of man in consciousness so that one understands spiritually that a man's real selfhood is as the son of God. Christian Science makes clear that the only possible way out of mortality and sin is through lifting up the son of man as Jesus did. It is the truth of man's real selfhood at work in human consciousness that destroys sin and disease and will, at length, make death impossible in the experience of men. This is the ultimate of what Jesus meant by his declaration, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."
Christian Science shows that either through suffering or through gaining spiritual insight, every one of us will be compelled, here or hereafter, to lift up the son of man. It is true, of course, that "now are we the sons of God." If this were not so, we could never prove it to be so, but each one of us must not only claim this scientific fact to be true of ourselves, but we must prove it. Why put off this proof? Death will not awaken us to our true being. The delusion, the dream of life in matter, is not something to cling to, even though it may sometimes appear to be a pleasant dream. Lifting up the son of man scientifically will break this dream of life in matter. Nothing else will or can do it. Physical healing is an important step up and out of this dream.
Let me tell you of the experience of a friend in a midwestern city. Physicians diagnosed his case as tuberculosis of the lungs. His condition gradually growing worse, as a last resort several physicians urged him to go to the mountains, telling him that there was a chance for him there. At first in the higher altitude he seemed to find relief, but it was only for a short time. By the end of three months he was worse off than ever. He was indeed in such a precarious state that the physician who cared for him advised him to return home to his family so that he might get his affairs in order, as his time here was short. On his way back, while still in the mountains, he had such difficulty that hope of getting home was faint. No sooner had he reached home, however, than someone told him about Christian Science. He was a religious man and was willing, even glad, to learn how to trust God. With the help of a Christian Science practitioner, and his own reading of the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, progress was experienced from the start. In a few months he was back in his office, well and free. And not only that, but his outlook on life was completely changed. Instead of ignorance and fear of God, he now had proof that God is Love, whose spiritual power had freed him from hopeless bondage. He could now face the future with joyful confidence, for the son of man had been lifted up in his consciousness, and this had given him a true concept of himself and his fellow men as the spiritual sons of God.
Jesus' followers in the first three centuries of the Christian era lifted up the son of man in dally life until paganism, scholastic theology and human hatred of Truth darkened and finally obscured altogether the spiritual understanding of the laws and rules governing the way. Misunderstanding, selfishness, indifference, and misrepresentation were rife in the church. The way had been lost. It was Mrs. Eddy who, through fervent prayer, found this way again, and learned how to lift up the son of man as Jesus did. Through prayer, the laws and rules underlying Jesus' demonstration of the way were revealed to her.
Prayer in Christian Science means not only a desire to be blessed of God, but an understanding and acknowledgment that man is so blessed. True prayer requires an understanding and use of God's laws and rules, through observance of which mankind can realize this blessing. God and all that expresses Him are worthy of our understanding and devotion. Loving God with all one's heart, with all one's soul, and with all one's strength, and one's brother as oneself, is true prayer. Such prayer brings bountiful and just rewards, blessings which surpass what human consciousness could possibly conceive of. True prayer does not ask God to forgive our sins and leave us free to repeat them. Rather does true prayer arouse the one who prays to the correct view of sin as a lie, a delusion of physical sense, which cannot be fastened to man. True prayer causes man to repent, that is, to rethink so thoroughly that he will never again yield to error's subtle temptation. Prayer enables him to gain and to hold a true sense of the allness of good. The Master once declared about his own true selfhood, "All things that the Father hath are mine."
Prayer or spiritual desire is one of the most important factors in spiritual progress. No one can begin, carry on successfully, and finally complete the journey from sense, to Soul as Jesus did and undoubtedly expected us to do, without righteous prayer. Merely reading the words and contemplating the works of Jesus will never, make us like him, even though we may agree fervently with what he said and did. We must do as he did. We must entertain the heaven-born desires and aspirations to know and to do the will of God that he entertained. We must strive to discern and to practice all of the qualities of divine Mind without omitting a single one of them, just as he did. This constitutes righteous prayer, which was answered fully in the experience of Jesus and which he foresaw and foretold would be answered fully here or hereafter in the experience of every one. He declared. "He that believeth on me the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." Does it not seem possible that the "greater works" which Jesus discerned must be done by all who understood and continued to follow him were only the greater works which he himself had yet to accomplish through prayer, the final steps to going to his Father? At the time Jesus made this statement he knew that he had yet to demonstrate, through prayer, first, a resurrection from the belief in the power of the grave to exert any influence, over him, and secondly, an ascension for himself out of and above materiality altogether. You and I have these "greater works" to perform. No one can do them for us, Procrastination only seems to make them more remote and difficult. Today is none too soon to learn to understand God spiritually, to trust Him wholeheartedly, and to approach and to solve each problem of life through scientific prayer.
The Discoverer and Founder
Mary Baker Eddy proved herself to be possessed of masculine as well as feminine qualities. As aids to her discovery of the Science of being, she used spiritual intuition, patience, persistence, and infinitely tender spiritual love. For the establishment of the Christian Science movement, she rallied the forces of intelligence, leadership, firmness and strength, as well as constant, tender devotion. For its protection, she evidenced alertness, spiritual clearsightedness, watchfulness, and care. For its defense, she employed all the masculine and feminine qualities which were found side by side in her perfectly balanced, unselfish reflection of divine Love. She says of herself (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 247), "The little that I have accomplished has all been done through love, — self-forgetful, patient, unfaltering tenderness."
Christ Jesus lifted up human consciousness to the point where it was enabled to grasp and finally to understand the fatherhood of God as represented in his manhood. Speaking to Philip of his representation of God, the Master declared, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." The humble Nazarene had given to the world all that its purest and humblest thought was then able to accept. The great Teacher knew that universal consciousness must be lifted up much higher before it could discern and accept the whole Truth — the full representation of God. The Master said: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." Christian Scientists understand this Comforter to be Christian Science.
The bearer of this final message of comfort was a woman, Mary Baker Eddy. In her, the purest and humblest thought of our time sees expressed the womanhood, the motherhood of God. She and the message which she bore completed the full representation of God's expression.
The Master declared, "By their fruits ye shall know them." By her works, Mrs. Eddy can be rightly understood. Her works should earn for her the gratitude of every mentally alert man, woman and child in the world today and in every day the world will see from now on. The full story of what Mrs. Eddy has done in lifting up the human consciousness to behold that the son of man is, in Truth, the son of his Father-Mother, God, centuries alone can tell.
Never since the time of the Master has there lived one so spiritually-minded and humble as Mary Baker Eddy. The message from God to men, Christian Science, the Holy Comforter, which she delivered in her book, Science and Health, has been, indeed, a "Key to the Scriptures" for unnumbered thousands. The spiritual understanding of the Scriptures gained through the study of this book has healed them of disease and sin and is teaching them to lift up the son of man in consciousness so that they may avoid repetition of these experiences.
Christian Scientists are especially grateful for the hard-won recognition accorded to women in the world today. They see in this recognition far more than tardy human justice. They realize that human consciousness is being lifted up to recognize the ideal male-and-female man of God's creating. The world is seeing something of the truth of the nature of man as the reflection of the fatherhood and motherhood of God. This is being made practical to quickened human consciousness. This invaluable truth of being must be seen, assimilated, and demonstrated in wider individual experience before it can be universally appreciated and accepted. Balance and completeness are demonstrated by realizing that you are now a complete identity of man, the idea of God, as every individual is, reflecting both the masculine and feminine qualities of your Maker.
Tenderness belongs to men and strength and fearlessness to women. This lifting up of the complete son of man in the consciousness of men and women will banish all beliefs of inequality and injustice between them. An honest, mutually helpful relationship between men and women will be the result of lifting up the son of man to the realization that each one of God's children is complete. The spiritual fact that each individual man reflects all of the qualities of his Father-Mother, God, lifts men and women to realize and to demonstrate the equality of the sexes and the completeness of man.
Selfishness Exposed and Destroyed
Selfishness grows in the thought of one who entertains a material sense of himself and others. Sooner or later, through lifting up the son of man in consciousness, we must learn to find our own in another's good. If we do not let divine Love working through Christian Science help us to uproot the false, mortal sense of self, it will finally be done in a none too gentle way, whether we wish it or not, for selfishness is no part of the real man.
Selfishness often expresses itself in the love of money. Paul, you remember, even goes so far as to say that "the love of money is the root of all evil." Keep in mind that he says not money, but "the love of money." Both those who have money and those who are without it are equally subject to the temptation of loving it. The love of money sometimes leads business to exploit labor. It operates, too, to cause labor to act in an utterly selfish way towards its employer. Genuine cooperation will result only when the love of one's brother becomes stronger than the love of money. This love of a man for his fellow man is found only by lifting up the son of man so that his Godlike qualities are seen and appreciated. Only he who has failed to lift up the son of man scientifically can possibly stoop to the level of valuing money above men. Such a man justifies greed in his own thought by saying, "This is business; every fellow for himself." There is one remedy for the exploiting of labor, for malingering and sabotage. This remedy will be found when we learn to love our neighbors as ourselves, and this can be done only as we use Christian Science to lift up the son of man.
Heaven, Christian Science teaches, is not a place afar off, but an ever-present state of harmonious consciousness. It is, therefore, a present possibility, but selfishness would make a hell where heaven should be enjoyed. It is a fanciful tale, of course, but did you ever hear the story of the man so persistently curious that he finally gained permission to visit both heaven and hell for just three minutes each? Naturally he looked into hell first, and what he saw astonished him greatly. He seemed to be in a great banquet hall with people at tables everywhere. They were all so thin and looked so hungry and unhappy that he wondered why they were not partaking of the delicious-looking food before them. And then he saw that they had only one instrument with which to eat the food, a fork with a handle so long that they could not get the food to their mouths. Hell, indeed! In a moment, his three minutes being up, he was quite suddenly in an identically appointed banquet hall; but the people — what good-looking, happy people these were! Then as they all sat down at the tables, he noticed again those same long-handled forks. "How do you ever feed yourselves with these forks?" he asked of the jolly man nearest him. "We don't," was his surprising reply, "we all feed each other." Simple, wasn't it? To seek our own in another's good, thereby proving that we love our neighbors as ourselves, would assure us all of heaven here and now. Unselfishness will change an unhappy, starved, and even hellish atmosphere into one of heaven itself.
Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Denounced
Friends, I know from personal experience what it means to have to smoke. Christian Science healed me of the desire for nicotine which seemed to have been fastened upon me by the use of tobacco. I rejoice in the freedom and satisfaction which came to me when I learned in Christian Science to lift up my concept of myself to the realization that, as a son of God, I was complete and satisfied. I did not see then as clearly as I do now that I was only one of millions who had been victimized by the greed which drives men to do everything in their power to ensnare an unwary public. Through loving money more than men, people are made willing to take advantage of other men and women by tempting them into using liquor, tobacco, and narcotic drugs. They feel confident that those who use them will be enslaved by them, thus becoming docile, perennial sources of income.
Ignorance, curiosity, and the desire for social popularity may lead young man and women to learn to smoke, but all of these are fed by attractive posters and false statements. No tobacco in any form ever satisfies. It only silences for a moment the craving for more nicotine which tobacco itself creates. It demands over and over again just one more indulgence. Alcohol and narcotic drugs have not one good thing to offer, although the greed which manufactures and sells them would deceive you into thinking so. I urge you to look these false friends squarely in the face; to see through their disguise and claim your freedom. Christian Science will help you to do this. The power of God which is brought to bear on any false desire through Christian Science will strip that desire from the one who seems to be its victim by lifting him into the light of Truth, where a so-called son of man is seen in his true nature as a son of God.
As Christian Science frees individuals from false appetites, so it will free them from every false belief about themselves and others, every departure from strict purity. To be saved, each individual must learn to let Christian Science and not corporeal sense instruct his understanding of being. Paul explained the scientifically Christian process of salvation in these words: "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." That the great evangelist saw the crying need of human beings for salvation from their erring sense of existence is evidenced in his remarks to the Romans: "To be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
John, in his first epistle, assures us, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." One of our well-loved hymns words it (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 20):
God is the only perfect One;
My perfect self is one with Him:
So man is seen as God's own son,
When Truth dispels the shadows dim.''
[Delivered Jan. 24, 1941, at Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, Manhattan, and published in The Brooklyn (New York) Eagle, March 22, 1941.]