Christian Science: Its Message of Liberation

 

Elbert R. Slaughter, C.S., of Dallas, Texas

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

Liberation from the bondage of sin, disease, and limitation is available to all, Elbert R. Slaughter, C.S., of Dallas, Texas, said last night in a Christian Science lecture in Boston.

Ever-increasing numbers of people are gaining freedom from discords of every kind through prayer - through an awakened understanding of God and man's relationship to Him, Mr. Slaughter declared.

To illustrate the power of effective prayer, he described healings through wholly spiritual means of alcoholism and influenza, as well as broken bones and other injuries said to be beyond help.

A member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, he spoke in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, on the subject "Christian Science: Its Message of Liberation."

In her introduction, Miss Leslie Harris, C.S.B., Second Reader of The Mother Church, said:

"Today the entire world is aware of a tremendous impetus toward freedom - freedom from human domination, injustice, poverty and limitation. Mankind is awakening to individual worth - to the fact that we all are sons of the one God who is Love and that as such each has a right to his loving Father's care and abundance."

The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

 

God Presented as Life, Truth, Love

Throughout recorded history, no force has ever spurred on individuals more than the longing for freedom. Many people today long for a release from some kind of bondage, such as restricted opportunity, sickness, a sense of inadequacy, fear of a censuring past or foreboding future or possibly some enslaving habit that darkens one's life. Christian Science brings a message of liberation to those individuals by revealing the truth of God and man's relationship to Him. The truth concerning God presents Him as infinite Life, Truth, and Love, the source of unchanging and unlimited good, and the creator of man in His image and likeness. This truth gives one a vastly different picture of his own real nature and identity than is gained from the usual view of man as a mortal. It gives one a new understanding of his true character, purpose, and possibilities, of the God-given heritage that is his. Realizing the effect of such an enlightened understanding of God and man, Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31,32).

The Bible is replete with instances of human freedom gained through an awakened understanding of God and man's relationship to Him. Some outstanding instances are: Moses' reliance on God which enabled him to lead the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt; Daniel's understanding and reliance on God brought him safely out of the lions' den; and Peter's experience when he walked out of the prison at midnight.

Christ Jesus turned men's thoughts Spiritward toward that understanding which reveals man’s birthright of freedom and dominion. An example of the Master’s teaching is found in the tenth chapter of Luke's Gospel, where it is reported he had sent seventy of his disciples out to every city and place to practice the truth he had taught them. After a successful mission, they returned saying (Luke 10:17), "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." Jesus replied, "Rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." By this he meant that they were not to rejoice so much over the works that they did as over the fact that they had the spiritual understanding to do the works. Thus Jesus emphasized the fact that one's spiritual understanding - that is, the understanding of God and man's relationship to God - is a necessary requisite to the overcoming of discordant material conditions. From his statements here and elsewhere, we can infer that our great Master's mission was to reveal to men that they have mental equipment or spiritual understanding which will enable them to do the works that he did without restriction or limitation.

Concerning Jesus' words and works, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 26): "Our Master taught no mere theory, doctrine, or belief. It was the divine Principle of all real being which he taught and practised. His proof of Christianity was no form or system of religion and worship, but Christian Science, working out the harmony of Life and Love."

By his works, Jesus demonstrated the effectiveness of spiritual understanding to dispel discordant material conditions. He healed all manner of sickness, including, dementia and withered limbs, fed the multitudes, stilled the tempests, and finally overcame death, first for others, then for himself. Not only did he do these things himself, but he taught his followers the Science which enabled them to do the same works which he did.

 

Mrs. Eddy Studied scriptures

As many of you know, the Master's disciples and their students followed in his way for some three hundred years after his ascension. Then the spiritual import of his words and works began to fade, and in its place came rites and ceremonies, creeds and doctrines, which remained the generally accepted concept of his teachings until near the middle of the nineteenth century, when the Science of what he taught was discovered by Mary Baker Eddy.

All of her biographers - some who were students of Christian Science and some who were not - report that from early childhood she evinced, a deep interest in things spiritual. They cite numerous instances which indicate that she possessed a spiritual perception regarding the nature of God and His creation far beyond the generally accepted views of her day.

In her autobiography entitled "Retrospection and Introspection," she relates an experience which is most illuminating. When she was being examined for membership in the church of her parents, it developed that she was unable to accept the doctrine of unconditional election or predestination. Her inability to accept this doctrine caused such a turmoil within that she developed a burning temperature. Her mother then bade her lean on God's love. On page 13 of the autobiography, she describes the results of this trust in God: "I prayed; and a soft glow of ineffable joy came over me. The fever was gone, and I rose and dressed myself, in a normal condition of health."

Throughout her youth and adulthood, she sought through many channels to find the Principle which she felt underlay the works of Jesus and the prophets. She completely rejected the generally accepted concept of Jesus' teachings as a mere system of human ethics, which system leads to the belief in the condemnation and destruction of sin through the questionable doctrine of vicarious suffering. Her search continued through many trials and disappointments. The answers began to come when she received sudden relief from the effects of what had been diagnosed as a fatal accident, by reading in the ninth chapter of Matthew's Gospel the account of Jesus' healing of the palsied man. Following this experience, she devoted about three years to a study of the Bible, and, as she writes, to ponder her mission. The result of her consecrated effort was the discovery of Christian Science, or the Science of Christianity, which she defined: "As the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony" (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 1).

 

Light Thrown on Jesus’ Mission

As we begin to get a faint idea of the full import of this Science and see the light it throws upon the Scriptures, the freedom it brings to a suffering, sinful world, beset by fears of disease and destruction, then we can begin to understand and appreciate the meaning and great importance to us of the life of Mary Baker Eddy. No influence since the time of Jesus has been felt throughout Christendom as have the life and works of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.

Through her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," we are gaining a larger and fuller comprehension of the Master's life mission - an understanding that it included a method of individual control over sin, sickness, and all material conditions. Through Christian Science each of us is gaining a clearer view of his own spiritual and eternal selfhood, never subject to any bondage or limitation, but upright, pure, and free. Christian Science interprets for us the inspired word of the Holy Bible in all its purity of purpose. In Science and Health, we find the key that unlocks the secrets of Jesus' wonderful accomplishments, thereby enabling you and me to follow in his footsteps. Through Mrs. Eddy's discovery and work, we are learning of our infinite possibilities as the children of God. It is no wonder that we thank God every day for her work.

In due course after her discovery, Mrs. Eddy founded the Church of Christ, Scientist. In the Church Manual we read as follows (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 word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing." Today, the church organization is known as The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, with branch churches and societies throughout the free world. Included in its operation, by provision of the Church Manual, are The Christian Science

Publishing  Society,  which publishes all of our periodicals, including The Christian Science Monitor, an international daily newspaper; Christian Science Reading Rooms; and many other activities, including Sunday School in The Mother Church and in branch churches, to which young people up to the age of twenty are cordially invited.

I never had the opportunity of attending a Christian Science Sunday School as a student, but I have had the rare privilege of serving as teacher, and surely it was a rare privilege. It was my good fortune to spend some time teaching a class of college students who were finishing their Sunday School activity, just before reaching the age of twenty. The poise, confidence, and assurance which they manifested could only have come through what they had learned in the Sunday School about their true identity as sons of God. Without a single exception, all of them were outstanding students in college and leaders on the campus.

Before we can enjoy our God-given birthright of freedom and dominion, it is necessary that we establish a correct concept of our true selfhood. In the first chapter of Genesis we learn that God made man in His image and likeness and gave him dominion over all the earth. Now, since man is God's image and likeness, we can see the necessity of knowing what God is before we can become acquainted with the nature of His image and likeness.

It has been said that the religious error of the ages has been a circumscribed, localized, and humanly personalized concept of God, and this despite the fact that the Bible is very clear in its statements not only of what God is, but of what He is not. In the book of Exodus we find this command (Ex. 20:3-5): "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them."

If we have no clear concept of God, we obviously can have no understanding of how to turn to Him in times of trouble. If we believe that God is far away, intangible and unknowable, we are bound to be at a loss when confronted with problems that seem humanly to have no solution. If, on the other hand, our concept of God conforms to the revelations of the Scriptures, we can rest in the comforting assurance that God is eternally with us, our present guide, friend, and protector.

According to Holy Writ, what then is God? No person who ever lived could more clearly explain what God is than Christ Jesus. You will remember the incident at the well of Sychar where he met the Samaritan woman and how in answer to her somewhat cynical questioning he told her (John 4:24), "God is a Spirit." Modern versions of this passage quote Jesus as saying, "God is Spirit," instead of "God is a Spirit." He is therefore incorporeal, that is without a material body. The Apostle John tells us that "God is love."

 

All Ideas Come From Divine Mind

St. Paul, in his reference to the "mind . . . which was also in Christ Jesus," makes it clear that that Mind is God. In another statement he refers to the so-called carnal mind, which might also be termed devil or evil, and which he describes as "enmity against God." So here we have on the one hand the divine Mind or God, which is the real and only Mind; and on the other hand the so-called carnal mind which is the counterfeit of God and has no real existence. From the one divine Mind or God come all the ideas of God, and they express happiness, kindness, love, abundance, heaven, and so forth. From the so-called mortal mind emanate all works of the devil, and they manifest sin, sickness, hate, matter, decrepitude, and death. As the divine Mind or God is one and infinite and is reflected by you and me, its pure ideas, so the so-called carnal or mortal mind claims to be one and to be expressed in carnal or mortal thoughts, which are counterfeits of true ideas.

Realizing the importance of a correct concept of God, Mrs. Eddy depicts Deity through seven synonyms, which reveal His nature. They are, "Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (Science and Health, p. 465). Each of these she derived from the Bible, specifically or by inference. Love is Principle, Spirit is Soul, Mind is Life. Each presents an aspect of God, His allness, oneness, and infinite Being. These synonyms reveal to human consciousness the nature of Deity, His actuality, ever-presence, and omnipotence. We find through our own experience that a knowledge of this living presence regenerates and liberates the seeker of truth.

Christian Science teaches that God is infinite Mind, ever-present Spirit, inspiring Soul, invariable Principle, eternal Life, absolute Truth, and pure, all-embracing Love. As we become familiar with and understand these terms for God, we can learn to apply our understanding of them to every situation which may arise in our daily living. Christian Science is bringing liberation to the enslaved and oppressed individual by showing him how to increase his understanding of God and to apply that understanding in a practical way to all of his problems. Christian Science reveals that man is the image and likeness, the very expression of this infinite Deity and therefore possesses by reflection all the qualities that are His. Man is the beloved of God, who is his Father-Mother.  

How a woman through expressing Love, the Love that is God, brought about a remarkable healing is illustrated in the following experience. A man whom I know fell from a scaffold while supervising the erection of a building. He was carried to a hospital, and after numerous X rays were taken he was informed that he had suffered a broken back, and the ultimate verdict was that he would never walk again. Now this man was not a Christian Scientist, but his wife had been a student of Christian Science since before her marriage. However, she had very wisely abstained from urging it upon him.

 

Healing Through Prayer Related

So, when he was told that he would be confined to a wheel chair the rest of his days, his thought turned to his wife and her devotion to her religion. He remembered the uncomplaining love and patient tenderness she had shown throughout their married life, and of course knew of her absolute reliance on God for healing.

With this in mind and realizing the apparent hopelessness of the situation from a surgical standpoint, he asked his daughter to call a Christian Science practitioner. She did so, and the practitioner began to pray for him. He gladly accepted the unchanging truth as taught in Christian Science and as explained to him by the practitioner. Within a very short time he left the hospital, going home in his own automobile driven by his wife. Before long he was able to walk with a brace, which he discarded in a few months. Today, he is about his daily duties unhampered by any disability. Not only was he healed, but he became a very sincere student of Christian Science and is applying its teachings in his every experience.

Mrs. Eddy tells us (Science and Health, p. 162); "Christian Science brings to the body the sunlight of Truth, which invigorates and purifies. Christian Science acts as an alterative, neutralizing error with Truth. It changes the secretions, expels humors, dissolves tumors, relaxes rigid muscles, restores carious bones to soundness. The effect of this Science is to stir the human mind to a change of base, on which it may yield to the harmony of the divine Mind." As the sunlight of Truth entered this man's consciousness, it acted as an alterative neutralizing the erroneous belief that man is a victim of bodily conditions and enabling him to assert his God-given dominion, thus bringing about the healing.

Since man is the image and likeness of God, he must express God perfectly. Therefore to the extent that you and I consciously express the qualities of God we are becoming conscious of our sonship with Him. We learn in Christian Science that God is divine Mind, Spirit. Since Mind can only be expressed by ideas, it logically follows that man is not material and that he is to be discerned through the qualities of Spirit. Man is therefore spiritual. He is God's idea.

 

Real Man Defined in Textbook

Mrs. Eddy gives us a very clear description of man's true nature. Let me read a portion of it (Science and Health, p. 475): “Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness. The likeness of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit. Man is spiritual and perfect; and because he is spiritual and perfect, he must be so understood in Christian Science. Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas.”

But you may say, "What of this man of flesh and blood that seems to be me?" Christian Science shows that since God is Spirit, and God's man is spiritual, so the matter man is found to be a counterfeit of the real man. He is the false concept of what St. Paul describes as the carnal mind, which is enmity against God. Christian Science teaches that all that is cognized through the five physical senses is the result of false belief. Our daily experience proves the five physical senses to be altogether unreliable. The earth is not flat. The sun does not move around the earth daily. The earth and sky do not meet at the horizon, nor do railroad tracks converge in the distance. Reason reveals to us the fallacy of the material or corporeal senses, and spiritual understanding shows us the reality of things spiritual. Paul's admonition is that we put off the old man with his deeds, the material concept of man, and instead put on the new man which is constituted of perfect ideas of Spirit. As we do this, we are coming into our true heritage of freedom and dominion as the children of God, now and always. We see that we have never been separated from God by a chain of human ancestry, which is supposed to have originated with a fictitious character named Adam.

Now the ridding ourselves of the wrong thinking brought about by years of false education Christian Science teaches is the function of the Christ. On page 583 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy defines "Christ" as, “The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error.” No discussion of the Christ would be complete without a clear understanding of our great Way-shower, the man Jesus, who so clearly presented the Christ to mankind. Because of his spiritual origin and nature Jesus earned the title of Christ or the Son of God. Christian Scientists honor Jesus as the greatest benefactor and friend of humanity. They recognize him as the Way-shower. Mrs. Eddy refers to him as, "The highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea, rebuking and destroying error and bringing to light man's immortality" (Science and Health, p. 589). She rejected however the belief that the Christ was limited to Jesus. In explaining the duality of the human Jesus and the divine Christ, his spiritual selfhood, she writes in Science and Health (p. 333), "The advent of Jesus of Nazareth marked the first century of the Christian era, but the Christ is without beginning of years or end of days."

Christian Science teaches that as we open the door of our consciousness to Mind's ideas they displace false beliefs that have brought so much unhappiness and suffering to mankind. And when every false material belief has been eliminated, through the activity of Christlike ideas, man's true spiritual selfhood is revealed, without a single element of materiality. Jesus attained this state of spiritual perfection at his ascension after he had overcome every belief of life in matter. He had then put off the old man completely and put on the new.

 

Christ Jesus Marked Out the Way

The master Christian not only achieved his own salvation, but marked out the way for each of us. In one way or another every step taken by Jesus during his brief career must be taken by you and me in working out our own salvation. Mrs. Eddy describes "salvation'' as, ''Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed" (ibid., p. 593).

Final deliverance from the bondage of erroneous thinking is not the work of a moment, however, for as we find in the textbook, "Love is not hasty to deliver us from temptation, for Love means that we shall be tried and purified" (p. 22).

Let me give you an example of how the Christ operated to destroy disease in one man's experience. Late one afternoon he manifested symptoms of influenza. During the night he developed a high temperature with other unpleasant and painful effects. The following morning a friend came in and suggested that they read the Lesson-Sermon for that week in the Christian Science Quarterly, consisting of citations from the Bible and from Science and Health. With some difficulty the man arose, and they read the Lesson together. When they had finished, every vestige of the illness had vanished, and he was completely free. There was nothing left to suggest that. he had ever been sick; so he dressed himself and went about his business with no ill effects, although the day happened to be very cold and disagreeable. You see, the divine Mind acting through the Christ, or Truth, as presented in the Lesson-Sermon displaced the erroneous belief of sickness and thus brought liberation.

We should always bear in mind that as we acknowledge the presence and activity of the Christ, we do not displace anything that is real. When we carry a light into a darkened room, the darkness is not driven out; it never was anything but the absence of light. Since God, good, is omnipresence, therefore, sick and sinful beliefs are never anything but the supposed absence of divine ideas.

Individual human consciousness is the arena in which false beliefs and spiritual ideas seem to mingle. Sickness, fear, lack, and resentment are false beliefs. They are proved to be unreal, and therefore powerless, as the truth of Christian Science is accepted and maintained in thought.

Joy, peace, confidence, freedom, purity, abundance, and health are inherent in the divine Mind, God, and become a part of our daily experience to the extent that they find an abiding place in our thinking. Thus we can see how completely within our control are our daily lives and experiences. Mrs. Eddy tells us, "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of  your thoughts" (ibid., p. 261).

 

Corrective Spiritual Idea Present

If our lives seem to be filled with sin, sorrow, mistakes, fears, sickness, business failure, resentment, false appetites, can we not see that all these exist in our world because of the carnal or mortal thoughts that have found occupancy in our consciousness? We may think we have failed to "get the breaks," or have bad luck, or did not know the right people, or that we have made mistakes in the past. Where can we find freedom from the suffering such thinking brings? Not by waiting for material conditions to change, or for someone else to do something or cease doing something, but by changing our own thinking by accepting the Christlike ideas of divine Love into our consciousness. You will remember Shakespeare's words along this line: "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

For every painful, ugly, sickly incident or circumstance in our experience, there is a corrective spiritual idea. For every hateful or resentful thought, there is the idea of love. For every unhappy or sorrowing experience, there is the idea of joy. For every false appetite, there is the idea of man's completeness as the complete expression of God. For every belief of sickness, there is an idea of health. For every need, we have the idea of infinite supply. For dishonesty, there is integrity. For discord, there is harmony. For strife and misunderstanding, there is spiritual unity.

The remedy for strife and misunderstanding not only applies to our own personal experience, but we can effectively apply it to our thought concerning the world situation. The friction, discord, manipulation, and tyranny that seem to exist in the world today do not exist as the thinking of a nation or nations, but are inherent in the consciousness of the individuals of those nations. They are the false beliefs of the carnal mind. No matter how much we may condemn the evil acts and deeds of men, we are aiding in the spread and perpetuation of the wrongs they commit, if we accept into our consciousness the erroneous thought that they are the acts and deeds of the real man. When we begin to see that they are no part of and have never been any part of man, then our corrected thought counteracts erroneous thinking and brings freedom from the fear it engenders.

 

Prayer Unfolds Unity With God

As we begin to realize that a right understanding of God and of man's relationship to Him brings liberation from false beliefs, our appreciation for the unselfish labor of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science increases immeasurably. How unselfish she was and how great was her love for her fellow men! She writes in Science and Health (p. 226); “I saw before me the sick, wearing out years of servitude to an unreal master in the belief that the body governed them, rather than Mind. The lame, the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the sick, the sensual, the sinner, I wished to save from the slavery of their own beliefs and from the educational systems of the Pharoahs, who to-day, as of yore, hold the children of Israel in bondage.”

Let me tell you the experience of one who was lifted out of that bondage to an unreal master by Mrs. Eddy's discovery, an experience which so clearly illustrates the healing and regenerative power of Christian Science.

This individual had been reared in the church of his fathers. As a child he attended Sunday School and as a young man took an active part in church affairs. At one time, after reaching maturity, he even thought of entering the ministry. This did not materialize, however; and as time moved on, he began to ask some questions such as: "What is God? what is man? what is man's relationship to God? how can we be born again?" Many learned men, ministers and theologians mainly, tried earnestly to give him the answers; but it was quite evident that although they were sincere and eager to help, they themselves did not know the answers. To satisfy themselves and their questioner, they said in substance that we could not have the answers now; but it we lived the right life we would go to heaven when we died, and God would tell us everything.

This he could not accept; and, since all his explorations in the church seemed to lead nowhere, he turned away from it and followed what has been called "the way of the flesh." It was popular to drink; so he drank and did all the things that seem to go along with that way of living. After a number of years, he awakened to the fact that he was a victim of the drink habit. His business was disintegrating as well as his home and health.

When he had reached what might be termed an extremity, a wonderful experience took place. A friend invited him to attend a Christian Science lecture. He knew very little about Christian Science, so, somewhat as a drowning man grasps for a straw, he accepted the invitation and attended.

Soon after the lecturer began to speak, a great light dawned on the listener's consciousness. With clear logic and reason the nature of God and man's relation to Him were unfolded. As the lecturer progressed, all the questions this man had been asking for years were answered. The fetters that had held him in bondage for so long were loosed, and he left the auditorium feeling as if he were walking out of prison. Soon thereafter the drink habit fell away; his business began to improve measurably; his health was restored; and his home became what a home truly should be. In short, a whole new life unfolded for him.

Now the experience I have just related to you was my own. Since I received my freedom at a Christian Science lecture, you can imagine how grateful I am for the privilege of passing the word of truth on by a lecture. You see, I know its effectiveness from my own experience.

This experience definitely bears out the truth of Jesus' observation, that if we continue our search in his way we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free. All of my difficulties stemmed from a wrong concept of God and man. When this was corrected through Christian Science I was freed.

One should never conclude, however, that this was an unusual experience. Thousands in all walks of life have been healed and regenerated, have found hope, peace, and happiness in the wonderful unfoldment of truth that comes from an understanding of the Science of Christianity.

The most important fact in the life of a Christian Scientist is prayer. In obedience to the Apostle Paul's admonition, he is taught to "pray without ceasing" (I Thess. 5:17). Prayer may well be said to be the process by which one establishes his present conscious unity with the Father, the one Mind, or God, rather than the process of endeavoring to acquaint some distant unknown mythical deity with one's trials and tribulations.  

Mrs. Eddy tells us (Science and Health, p. 2): "Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it. Goodness attains the demonstration of Truth. A request that God will save us is not all that is required. The mere habit of pleading with the divine Mind, as one pleads with a human being, perpetuates the belief in God as humanly circumscribed, - an error which impedes spiritual growth."

The wonderful healings that have been accomplished through Christian Science treatment are the result of prayer. This healing work is not confined to overcoming disease only, but includes the correction of all unrighteous acts, thoughts, and traits of character that would rob man of his birthright of freedom and dominion.

 

Gratitude Is Potent Healing Weapon

We enter into the kingdom of heaven through God-inspired thought, and right thinking is prayer. It is the process of mental purification by which we eliminate all erroneous thoughts. Every right thought which we entertain, every right idea which we express, testifies to our sonship with God; and it is only through entertaining and applying these ideas in our daily living that we free ourselves from all discordant, materialistic thinking, and thus prove ourselves to be the children of God. Jesus tells us, "The kingdom of God is within you," and that it is not "lo here! or, lo there" (Luke 17:21). In other words, the kingdom of God is not some place where we go after death, but a state of consciousness which is obtainable here and now. You and I have the right to choose our thoughts. We make our own heaven or hell, depending wholly upon the thoughts which we admit into our consciousness.

It is cause for much gratitude to realize our God-bestowed ability to work out our own salvation here and now, and to know that we need not wait until some future time after death to find out the truth concerning ourselves. The truth, remember, sets us free. And students of Christian Science have found that gratitude is a very potent weapon in the warfare whereby truth overcomes error in the individual human consciousness. Mrs. Eddy has written in the textbook: "Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more" (p. 3).

Gratitude opens the door of our consciousness to the boundless good that is ours as the children of God. The gratitude that we feel is our wealth. In the words of one of our hymns (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 249), "Our gratitude is riches, complaint is poverty." When we can feel the gratitude that Jesus felt when he stood before the tomb of Lazarus and said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me" (John 11:41), we too, shall be able to raise the dead. It was a full and complete acknowledgement of the omnipotence and omnipresence of God which Jesus so clearly understood and demonstrated.

The understanding that God is the source of all good enables the Christian Scientist to thank God for His good gifts, even as Jesus did, before the evidence of them is humanly apparent.

In the light of the spiritual understanding with which Christian Science endows one, the Bible takes on a new significance. That which had hitherto seemed vague and abstract becomes of practical import in our, present-day living. We find that as the image of God, man is maintained by God, not by material process, organization, or metabolism.

Prayer may well be described as the mental process by which one establishes his present conscious unity with God. It is not a pleading for the favor of an unknown god, nor appealing to Principle, with the expectation of altering it. Through prayer, we gain an understanding of divine Principle, which Christian Science reveals as God.

 

Surrender to Spirit Ends Struggle

Throughout the Scriptures, great emphasis is placed on stillness and quietness. Elijah heard the voice of God as a still small voice after the wind, earthquake, and fire had passed. Jesus often retired in solitude away from the turmoil of the times to attain the stillness in which the voice of God could be heard. Are these not examples for us to follow? We, too, must go into the closet and shut the door and pray to the Father in secret if we would be rewarded openly. In these moments of silent surrender to Spirit we cease struggling with error and find ourselves to be what we already are, Mind's eternal harmonious ideas, never outside of Spirit nor born into matter. Such thoughts mentally entertained are true prayer, and bring the realization that we exist in the ever-present now, possessing no past nor future. We are not cast out upon the sea of mortal mind without compass or rudder to guide us. Christian Science teaches that we are not isolated physical personalities that must fend for ourselves with minds of our own apart from God, but that God alone provides for our well-being and maintains us now and throughout eternity.

Now and eternally we have a refuge from the storm, namely, "the secret place of the most High." And confidence in the divine Principle, Love, replaces doubt and fear. Sin, sickness, discord, and sorrow are unreal, and man's birthright of freedom and dominion is an established fact. In obedience to our beloved Leader's admonition (Science and Health p. 227): "Citizens of the world, accept the glorious liberty of the children of God, and be free! This is your divine right."

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, May 13, 1959, under the headline "Understanding Prayer Frees From Discord of Every Kind".]

 

 

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