How Christian Science Brings Freedom from Limitation
Paul K. Wavro, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Editor’s Note: Paul K. Wavro delivered the following lecture
on Christian Science in the
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows;
The desire for freedom is basic with all mankind. This desire does not have to resolve itself into mere wishful thinking. Today you can experience this freedom, happiness, and joy in your own life. Centuries ago the Apostle Paul told us the only Way to achieve true liberty. He said (Gal. 5:1), "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Yes, it is the Christ, Truth, that brings freedom. Christian Science, which is the Science of the Christ, is revealing to all men how the yoke of bondage, the yoke of materiality, can be cast off.
Mrs. Eddy Gains Freedom
The way in which this joyous liberty can be brought into your daily experience is set forth in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This book was written by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. It is the fruitage of a lifetime devoted to prayer and consecrated study of the Bible. It came from Mrs. Eddy's own search for freedom from mortal discord. In her early life Mrs. Eddy was in bondage to many material conditions that deprived her of health, abundance, and joy. She was a semi-invalid throughout her childhood and early womanhood. Much of her time was spent searching the Bible for a better understanding of God.
Not until Mrs. Eddy approached middle age did she find a satisfying answer. It came after a doctor thought that she was dying from the effects of a severe fall. Mrs. Eddy asked to be left alone with her Bible. Opening it, she read of Jesus' healing of the palsied man recorded in the ninth chapter of Matthew. Catching a glimpse of the power of the Christ to free men from material bondage, she was instantaneously healed.
After this healing Mrs. Eddy devoted several years to the consecrated study of the Bible and the healing method of Christ Jesus. Speaking of this period, she states (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 25): "The Bible was my textbook. It answered my questions as to how I was healed; but the Scriptures had to me a new meaning, a new tongue. Their spiritual signification appeared; and I apprehended for the first time, in their spiritual meaning, Jesus' teaching and demonstration, and the Principle and rule of spiritual Science and metaphysical healing, – in a word, Christian Science."
The results of her study and prayer are set forth in Science and Health. Through her discovery, Mrs. Eddy found freedom from material limitations. Instead of invalidism, she found health. In place of privation and lack, she found abundance and happiness. No wonder she wrote in Science and Health (p. 227): "Christian Science raises the standard of liberty and cries: Follow me! Escape from the bondage of sickness, sin, and death!' Jesus marked out the way. Citizens of the world, accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free! This is your divine right."
Friends, you, too, can be freed from material limitations through your acceptance of the teachings of Christian Science. Freedom does not come from without. It is not dependent upon others. It comes as you claim your glorious heritage as the sons of God.
Christ Jesus Demonstrated Freedom from Limitation
No one proved this to a fuller degree than did Christ Jesus, who has been called the Way-shower. Jesus came to show us the way of freedom from material limitations. In his short ministry he demonstrated freedom from every material law, circumstance, or condition. With utter disregard for the beliefs of material limitation, he healed the sick, raised the dead, stilled the tempest, and fed the multitude. Knowing that God's law was supreme and ever operative, Jesus proved the naturalness and harmony of that law. He proved that obedience to it brings freedom from every belief of material limitation, and showed us how we might avail ourselves of this law.
There is no record in the Bible that Jesus ever accumulated riches or worldly goods. Yet, no one ever had more. Jesus had all that he needed, and he had it abundantly. You can have this same sense of abundance if you will follow his direction. He said (John 8:31, 32), "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." When you know the truth, you are claiming, son-ship with God, the Giver of all good. God being unlimited, the claiming of the Christ, Truth, as your consciousness, frees you from material limitations. This activity of the Christ can be experienced by all today, just as Jesus experienced it in his day.
You too can experience freedom from sin, sickness, lack, and unhappiness as you claim that the Christ governs as your consciousness of being. Every time you express love, helpfulness, consideration, compassion, purity, and goodness, you are expressing the Christ. This expression of the Christ frees you from the limitations of materiality. Freedom from sin is gained through the manifestation of purity and goodness. Freedom from sickness is attained through the expression of health and perfection. Freedom from limitation comes through the realization of God's ever-present and infinite abundance of good. Thus liberty comes as you are steadfast in maintaining the truth of all existence. As Paul said, freedom comes from being steadfast in Christ, Truth, in your expression of the power of the Christ even as Jesus was steadfast. You can follow Jesus' example as you more clearly perceive the nature of God and your inseparable unity with Him as His beloved child.
Understanding God Aright Brings Freedom
Understanding God aright is the way to freedom and salvation. Mankind has accepted the suggestion that it is difficult to know and understand God. Hardly a day passes that I do not hear someone exclaim, "Oh, if I only knew God better." This sort of wishful thinking was frequently indulged in by a student of Christian Science. Whenever he heard a helpful testimony in church or an inspiring lecture on Christian Science, he would think, "Oh, if I only knew what he knows about God, how wonderful that would be!"
Does that sound familiar? Have you ever felt the same way? Then you will be interested to know how this student found the answer. One day after he had heard a lecture that had been especially helpful, he asked himself, "Was the lecturer born with his understanding of God?" The answer was no. "Did God especially bestow upon him this wisdom and knowledge because He loved him above others?" Again the answer was no. "Then, where can this understanding be found?" There could be but one answer: Through searching the Bible and Science and Health. The student then asked himself, "Do I own these books?" Of course he did. Then what was the difference between the student and the speaker? The answer was evident: Consecration and the desire to know the truth. When he was willing to give time and consecrated effort to studying and to living the spiritual truths gained through study, he found freedom from many material limitations. He found health, happiness, a wonderful wife, abundance, and the opportunity to serve God and his fellowmen. I know this to be true because this experience was my own.
Through the consecrated study of Christian Science, I learned that God is divine Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love. These synonymous terms for God revealed to me the true, complete nature of God.
I saw also that God is ever present and that I could never be separated from His presence, love, and protection. In His omnipotence, I perceived there was a solution to every problem. There could be no human situation beyond the control of His divine government. As I learned to turn humbly to God for the answer to my need, it was revealed through spiritual ideas. Through Christian Science I learned that God is wholly good. The conviction that omnipotent good is always present, directing, governing all real being, brought assurance and freedom from the fears of materiality. Understanding God, good, as the creator of all real existence enabled me to see the falsity of matter and its claims. Thus I gained the courage to reject arguments of sin, sickness, and death, which are not in accord with the will of God. The result was that harmony and peace were brought into my experience.
My friends, we are as children in this study of the Science of the Christ. However, the fact that others are proving its teachings is evidence that you can prove them. You can have freedom and express dominion over all material bondage – over human limitations – in the degree that you give consecrated study to this wonderful Science and earnestly strive to live in accord with its demands of love, purity, and goodness.
The Prayer of Liberation
The knowledge of God gained through the study of Christian Science is made practical in human experience through prayer. Prayer in Christian Science includes the affirmation of that which is good, true, and perfect in each instance. Since prayer is based upon an understanding of God and of man's relationship to Him, this prayer is more than blind faith. Prayer in Christian Science is never human outlining or resorting to human will power. It is not the desire to bring about material conditions or things which we personally want. Mrs. Eddy leaves no doubt about this when she says (Science and Health, p. 10), "Experience teaches us that we do not always receive the blessings we ask for in prayer." And later she adds: "That which we desire and for which we ask, it is not always best for us to receive. In this case infinite Love will not grant the request."
In the Bible, James points out to us that true prayer has in it no element of personal sense when he says (4:3), "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." True prayer is the willingness to say "Thy will be done" with the spiritual conviction that God's will must be good since His very nature is good. God's will blesses all, not just a few. Thus prayer in Christian Science replaces personal sense with spiritual understanding.
Since God is omniscient Mind, He supplies the intelligence which establishes harmony in any situation. Fear, doubt, and limitation are replaced through the spiritual understanding that God's man is fearless, confident, and unlimited. Knowing the truth is actually Christian Science treatment. So, when you hear a Christian Scientist say that he gave himself a treatment, you know that what he did was to turn earnestly and humbly to God in prayer that replaced discordant material beliefs with the spiritual truths of God and man.
You see, true prayer in Christian Science is the attainment of conscious at-one-ment with God. It is the unqualified acceptance of the truth that God knows His creation to be perfect. That is why Christian Science treatment, or prayer, brings freedom and dominion from material limitations. This understanding prayer operates as God's law to correct any discordant situation. The law of God, divine Principle, being omnipotent, supersedes all material beliefs and brings out harmony and perfection.
A careful study of Jesus' works as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John indicates that his prayers brought men health, harmony, abundance, purity, goodness – yes, freedom from material limitation. In true prayer we never ask that God's law be violated or set aside. Instead, prayer replaces mortal beliefs with spiritual facts, affirms the ever-presence and operation of divine law, and thus eliminates discordant human beliefs through spiritual understanding. Because Christian Science treatment or prayer does not depend upon blind faith or human ability but relies upon Principle, God, and His law of harmony, it is always effective. The Apostle Paul referred to the harmonious law of God when he said (Rom. 8:2), "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
Man Is Always Free
Mankind appears to be engulfed in sin, sickness, suffering, and privation. These discords stem from the educated beliefs of materiality. In this miasma of mortal thinking we can find nothing to encourage us or to bring freedom to mankind. But Christian Science teaches us that mortal existence is an illusion, a dream. It is part of the Adam-dream, the deep sleep of material thinking that is mentioned in the allegory of Adam and Eve recorded in the second chapter of Genesis. This Adam-dream would have us believe that a mortal is the image and likeness of God. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God, Spirit, could not create a mortal man; hence mortal man is a false concept, a part of the dream of materiality.
To demonstrate freedom from the limitations of the dream of materiality you must turn to Christ, Truth, which will awaken your thought to reality. Christ, Truth, reveals to you the true facts of being. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 117), "Truth is a revelation." Truth reveals man as the creation of God, never mortal but always spiritual, perfect, whole.
Christian Science demonstrates this fact by freeing humanity from material bondage through spiritual understanding. It shows us that the dream of material living and its limitations are no more real or binding than the night dream.
If you should dream that a lion was chasing you and had jumped on you, scratching and biting, you would be terrified in your dream state. However, the moment you awakened you would find that there was no lion and, most important of all, that there were no scratches or bites, for nothing really had happened to you. With this realization the terror would vanish. You would clearly see that the lion and the effects of his attack upon you were simply the result of your being asleep and dreaming. To get rid of the lion, the scratches, and the bites, you simply had to awaken from your dream.
Material sense is the "lion" in the dream of human existence. Christian Science shows us how to replace material sense with spiritual understanding, and thus we eliminate the "lions" of materiality. Through spiritual understanding the individual awakens from the dream of materiality and sees the nothingness of the false beliefs of sin, sickness, and death. Freedom from these beliefs does not come from doctoring the effects. Freedom comes from a change of consciousness by dependence on God, good. Disease is always mental, never material. To illustrate this point, let us suppose we were confronted with a frightened cat arching its back. Would we attempt to operate on the cat for curvature of the spine? Of course not. The way to correct the situation would be to remove the animal's fear by eliminating the cause of its fright.
We attain freedom from discordant material conditions, not by treating the effects but by replacing material beliefs with spiritual understanding. Thus we see how freedom and the means of attaining it are within the reach of everyone in this audience. Yes, freedom comes to us as we awaken from the dream of materiality and perceive our true spiritual nature as the sons of God, reflecting the perfection, harmony, immortality, and goodness of our Father-Mother God. Is not this the state of being referred to by the Psalmist when he said (Ps. 17:15), "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness"?
Freedom from Fear
The basic argument of mortal existence is fear. Today mankind is enslaved by fear of sickness, fear of failure, disaster, poverty, and death. Freedom from these fears is found in our constantly expanding understanding of God as immortal Life and infinite Love. The Bible tells us (Luke 20:38), "For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him." And again (I John 4:8), "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." Since God is ever-present Life and Love, He is everywhere expressed. Since God is All-in-all and wholly good, that which is evil or unlike God has no reality.
Let me tell you how this knowledge enabled a young mother to eliminate fear and thus restore her son to health. The mother called a Christian Science practitioner one morning and asked for Christian Science treatment for her son. (I might explain that whenever a Christian Scientist feels his own understanding of God is not sufficient to meet some situation, he calls upon an experienced Christian Scientist known as a practitioner to offer prayer in his behalf.) The mother explained that her son was critically ill and that she was very concerned. There was a polio epidemic in the community at this time and the practitioner recognized the symptoms mentioned by the mother as those that were being described daily in the press and over the radio. He did not speak of this to the mother, but did remind her that Life is God, immortal, spiritual, and perfect. Therefore, Life could never be subject to any material belief or limitation. Because her son was in reality the individual expression of Life, Spirit, he had no mortal life to become diseased or to be lost.
The extreme heat of the fever was broken within a short time, but later the mother called to say that the boy's legs were completely paralyzed. She added, "I am scared to death." The practitioner perceived that the mother was completely mesmerized by the picture of disease that confronted her, and this paralyzing sense of fear was evidenced in her son's condition. He pointed out that all of God's creation, all real being, is good. God, divine Love, cannot create anything less than that which is lovely, perfect, whole. Then he asked her, "What is there to fear?"
The mother realized she was afraid only of that which was not real. She caught a glimpse of the wonderful fact that there is nothing to fear in the infinitude of God's creation. Taking the Bible and Science and Health, she read for some time, establishing in her thought the truths of Life and Love. Soon she experienced a great sense of peace and calm, and in a few moments her son came walking into the room saying, "Look, Mama, I can walk." He was free. There was no period of convalescence, for when one awakens from a dream of material sense, one is free from that dream. When fear was replaced with the understanding of Life and Love, freedom was found to be man's birthright. Through her reliance upon God, this mother found the same freedom from fear that is mentioned by David in the much-loved twenty-third Psalm (verse 4), "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow, of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me."
When you stand steadfastly in the knowledge of God's goodness despite disturbing sense testimony, as this young mother did, you can walk through any valley of mortal thought. God is the Father-Mother of man, and the understanding of this truth gives you freedom and dominion. The Bible declares (II Tim. 1:7), "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Yes, a mind that is wholly free of any material limitation.
Freedom from False Appetites
In the pursuit of happiness and freedom, mankind is sometimes deceived into believing that these qualities can be found through material means. It is frequently claimed that indulgence in certain material habits brings freedom from care and suffering. Insidious advertising would have us believe that satisfaction is gained through the use of tobacco and alcohol. Much of this advertising is directed at our young people with the purpose of enslaving them at an early age so that they will be good customers for the ensuing years. Such advertising claims that freedom from tension and worry is gained through the habitual use of tobacco or alcohol. Yes, freedom through enslavement – such is the contradiction of material belief!
Mrs. Eddy writes (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 65); "The odors of persecution, tobacco, and alcohol are not the sweet-smelling savor of Truth and Love. Feasting the senses, gratification of appetite and passion, have no warrant in the gospel or the Decalogue." Salvation does not come through materiality but through spirituality. We can attain salvation through understanding God as Soul. Soul reveals to us the true identity of man, his purity and completeness. Man, as the expression of Soul, is spiritual, pure, and holy. He is always satisfied. In Ecclesiastes we read (3:14), "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it." Man, the creation of God, is whole, complete. God's work needs no improvement. Mortal thinking, through aggressive suggestion, cannot add to God's man false appetites that are foreign to his nature. Know that you are this perfect man and that all men are in reality God's perfect ideas. Your purity and perfection cannot be defiled or assailed, for you are the son of God.
Let me tell you how a young college student claimed his true identity through an understanding of God as Soul. He had attended a Christian Science Sunday School and was familiar with the basic truths of Christian Science. After entering college, he yielded to the temptations of material thinking. Within a year he found himself suffering from a severe physical condition diagnosed by R.O.T.C. doctors as arthritic gout. He was classified as 4-F and excused from military training at college. He sought freedom from the pain and misery through material means. He smoked five or six cigars each day, and on week ends he went on a drinking spree to forget his troubles. Still the pain and misery persisted.
About this time his college had a "Religion in Life" week. A Christian Scientist was asked to speak on Christian Science to classes in religion and to various other groups on the campus. The student saw notices of these meetings and was led to attend. The first talk he heard on Christian Science was so inspiring that he went to another and to still a third. His consciousness was freed from the material beliefs which had bound him. He spent the next three days in an earnest study of the Bible and Science and Health. He gained glimpses of his true identity as the pure and sinless expression of Soul. The desire to smoke and drink left him. His physical condition began to improve. Within a short time he was completely free and requested re-examination by the R.O.T.C. doctors. They pronounced him healed and reclassified him. This young man began to attend the Christian Science church regularly and continued his daily study of our religion. He found freedom from false appetites and material bondage by claiming his sonship with God.
Christian Science can bring freedom from false appetites to anyone who is willing to identify himself as an idea of Soul, God, and to claim purity, perfection, and completeness as qualities of his true nature.
The Church Our Guide to Freedom
Whenever you undertake a journey
it is of great help to have a guide or specific directions in order to find the
way. Christian Science provides guidance to the earnest seeker of Truth. Let me
make it clear that this guidance does not in any way hamper individual effort
but serves as a strengthening influence to the desire of the individual to know
and understand God better. The Manual of The Mother Church, The First Church of
Christ, Scientist, in
During the past two World Wars, the Christian Science church maintained a large staff of field workers to assist the young men and women who were called into or volunteered for military service. There are today several hundred of these workers ministering to the needs of service men and women throughout the world. It was my privilege to serve for four years in this activity during the war years. The effectiveness of these workers in helping young Christian Scientists in the armed services during and since the war years is indicated by the large number of them who have returned to their own communities and have become outstanding citizens, business people, and church workers.
How do I know this? From firsthand observation. As I travel about the country I meet them at lectures and church services, and it is truly inspiring to hear them tell how, through the application of Christian Science, they were able to find right activity, right companionship, establish good homes for their families, and find happiness and joy in serving God in their branch churches. What the Christian Science church has done for others in helping them find freedom from material limitations, it can do for you, if you will take advantage of the invitation it offers you to attend its services and investigate its teachings.
Today the world is continuing to seek an enduring freedom. The need is very urgent. Christian Science, the law of God, is the answer to this search. Through its teachings we learn that salvation is individual. We are always dealing with our own concept of things. Therefore freedom lies within us. We experience what we accept as our thoughts about ourselves and our fellowmen. It is a common human tendency to blame others for our problems – to feel that things would be better if other people would do differently. Suppose Jesus had delayed his wonderful ministry waiting for the world to get better. Certainly the world seemed to be in a sad state in his day. Poverty, ignorance, filth were the rule, not the exception. The most decrepit concepts of men were constantly brought before him: the beggar, the leper, the blind, and the maimed. Yet Jesus never lost his spiritual vision. He never lost sight of the spiritual nature of God's creation, which he knew to be the truth of being. Thus the world received the blessing of Christianity.
Mrs. Eddy states (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." This is our work if we would be his followers: to see our fellowmen in God's own likeness. To see the pure, perfect nature of all men, regardless of the material concepts of them that are presented to us; to uphold and maintain the real concept and reject the counterfeit belief.
A helpful little story appeared many years ago in the Christian Science Sentinel of July 6, 1899. It reads as follows: "Once there fell into my hands a plugged quarter. My first thought was to pass it on, as it had come to me unnoticed, and I felt entitled to receive as much in turn. My sober second thought was to do nothing of the kind. I could see that plugged quarter wending its way from hand to hand for years and years to come, troubling and worrying everybody as to how they might pass it; and I could see that in a few years it might have disturbed the peace of over ten thousand people. And I thought what a vast amount of trouble I might head off by a little self-sacrifice. So I just took a hammer and mashed that quarter so flat it could never be passed again. To this day there has not been another bad coin passed on me."
The lesson of this coin is especially applicable to our attitude regarding the world situation. When we hear petty gossip, unpleasant or malicious things about our neighbors, let us deny ourselves the foolish satisfaction of passing them on or even voicing them to others. Let us reject them. As we consistently refuse to entertain in our thinking and to pass on to others this false testimony about men and nations, let us prepare ourselves to bear witness to the truth of being, to spiritual harmony, as Jesus did.
If the world is to be free of sin, sickness, lack, greed, and inharmony, then we must individually stop thinking and talking about these false beliefs. Christian Science reveals to us the realities of true being. There is plenty of work for us to do in upholding and maintaining these spiritual realities in thought. As we perceive and uphold the concept of man as the child of God, we shall ultimately find true unity and peace in all nations. The world will manifest peace, health, abundance, and enduring freedom.
As you have listened to this discussion of Christian Science for the past hour, haven't you felt a sense of freedom from the fears of human existence? Then think of the freedom you may have through consecrated, daily study of this Christ Science. Yes, it requires consecration! The Apostle Paul made this clear (Gal. 5:1), "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." This was no idle statement of Paul's. He had proved his freedom from the bondage of materiality many times in his experience.
You may recall that on one occasion Paul and Silas were imprisoned after being severely beaten. The Bible states that the jailer "thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks" (Acts 16:24). But even in this situation Paul and Silas stood fast in their knowledge of God's presence and power. The Bible relates that at the midnight hour they prayed to God and sang His praises. This so completely lifted them above the limitations of material belief that the doors of the prison were opened and they were free.
If you find yourself in some troubled midnight hour, in some darkened sense of lack, pain, or discord, you can turn your thought to God in prayer and sing His praise. The Psalmist said (66:1), "Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands." This joyful noise is praise and thanksgiving for God's allness and goodness, for the many blessings God has bestowed upon all of us. Such praise will bring the light of spiritual understanding to your midnight hour and dispel the darkness of material sense. You will find the King James Version of the Bible and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" to be beacon lights. In these books you will find the spiritual illumination necessary to lead you out of every belief of material limitation. Refuse to be entangled with the yoke of bondage and resolve to go forth in the freedom of the Christ, Truth. This freedom is your heritage as the sons of God.
In the words of one of our loved hymns (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 175):
"Lo, He sent His Word and healed them,
Still that Word of God is here.
Still its tender healing message
Speaks to every listening ear.
Truth divine, that overcometh
All the ills that seem to be,
In our hearts Thy Word abiding,
We may know Thee and be free."