The Way of Abundant Life

 

Paul K. Wavro, C.S.B., of Jacksonville, Florida

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

Paul K. Wavro, C.S.B., of Jacksonville, Fla., called upon an audience in Boston Saturday to express the spirit of the Christ in daily affairs.

"As the Christ appears in the thought of humanity, the world will express greater peace and harmony and justice - the life that is truly abundant with God's blessings," Mr. Wavro said.

A member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, Mr. Wavro spoke in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. The title of his lecture was "The Way of Abundant Life."

Timothy George Holden of Dover, Mass., introduced the lecturer, who spoke substantially as follows:

 

Essence of life defined

In going about my work as a Christian Science lecturer, I have become somewhat of a world traveler. In my travels I have observed that people everywhere have desires that are common to all - the desire to be healthy and to experience an abundant life.

Some two thousand years ago there appeared a man who told us how to achieve these goals.  Strangely enough, from outward appearances he didn't appear to be well qualified to speak about health and abundant life. He never took medicine. He owned no home or property. He had no accumulated savings nor did he own any securities. His only possessions were the clothes he wore. Yet he told humanity: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). I'm sure most of you know that I'm speaking of Christ Jesus.

Why, then, do we find such a scrambling today for the answers to health and abundance? Have the teachings of Jesus been forgotten? Or, could it be that his words and life have never been fully understood?

Jesus' demonstration of well-being and an abundant life rested on two essential points: A knowledge of the real essence of life itself, and an understanding of the substantial nature of true abundance.

First, let us talk about the real essence of life, for the desire to live is basic with all of us. Jesus taught: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). He clearly indicated that eternal life consists in a knowledge of God and His manifestation, the Christ. Since a knowledge of God and His Christ is eternal life, should it be surprising to find that God, Himself, is Life and the source of all life?

This is exactly what Christian Science teaches. In defining God in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, uses these names for God: Life, Truth, Love, Mind, Spirit, Soul, and divine Principle. I might add that all these terms are mentioned or implied in the Bible. So we see that the term "Life" is a synonym for God - this makes it synonymous with all other terms for God. A full and complete sense of Life would include Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Love, and Truth.

Gaining this full and complete understanding of Life as God enriches our whole sense of living. It enables us to see that Life, being synonymous with the all-knowing Mind, must express intelligence. As Spirit, Life includes perfect, immortal, spiritual substance. Nothing accidental or chaotic could intrude upon the ordered, harmonious Life that is one with Principle. Life and Love being synonymous, Life must include undying love and affection. The Life that is Soul must include all of God's goodness, beauty, and perfection. This understanding of the nature of Life as God - in its infinity and fullness - is the knowledge of God which Jesus said would result in life eternal.

The mortal sense of life that believes life to be material is a mistaken or false sense of life. False concepts of life as limited, discordant, and material will disappear as we better understand the spiritual nature of God as Life. And so will the phenomena which result from these false concepts. This understanding reveals to us the infinite nature of Life and enables us to begin to demonstrate here and now the unlimited possibilities of real being. In the knowledge of God as Life we find harmony, bliss, health, perfection - the abundant life Christ Jesus promised.

 

Kingdom of God always at hand

I'm sure we would all agree that this is a wonderful concept of God - but how can it benefit you and me? Let me give you a practical explanation. Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is always at hand. In fact, the concept of God's ever-presence antedated Jesus, for Jeremiah wrote: "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? . . . Do not I fill heaven and earth?" (Jer. 23:23,24)

To know God as Life would be of little value to us if man could be separated from God, or if God were a person off somewhere in space. And this is a frequently accepted belief. You may recall that one of the early Russian cosmonauts commented on this point. He said that as he flew around the earth he looked everywhere for God out in space but couldn't see Him. Had this same cosmonaut understood the true nature of God as spiritual, as divine Mind and Principle, he could have seen sure indications of God's presence. His very flight was made possible by the application of intelligence and a recognition of law.

Christian Science corrects human misconceptions about God by rending the veil of mystery that claims to surround God and man's relationship to God. It shows us that we can become conscious of God's presence through a right understanding of the evidence around us. The good in our present human experience is a promise of the beauty and goodness of spiritual reality which will unfold for us as we gain the spiritual understanding of God and real creation.

 

Man is God’s spiritual idea

Christian Science has revealed God, then, not as a finite person, but as infinite Principle. In the light of this revelation we find man's relationship to God is as fixed and eternal as God Himself, and through this understanding we perceive man's true selfhood.

Just consider this definition of man from Science and Health: "Man: God's spiritual idea, individual, perfect, eternal" (p. 115). This is who you really are! Man, the spiritual idea of God, individually expressing His divine nature. You are, in reality, this man, perfect and eternal - the man who is expressing fullness of Life. This is your true selfhood - to express the divine nature by manifesting the qualities of God.

Does this revelation of your true nature appear to you to be a bit radical? If you will think about it for a moment, you will see that you have accepted this view of man to some degree.

Let me illustrate. Most of you have been asked, at one time or another, to give someone a reference. Did you begin to describe the person's physical characteristics - the color of his hair or eyes? Did you tell how tall he was or how much he weighed? No. Because these are simply the characteristics of a mortal and not at all what the person asking for the reference wanted to know. Instead, you listed the qualities of character that the individual expressed. You spoke of his honesty, intelligence, cheerfulness, truthfulness - that is, what he was expressing in the way of ideas, especially the qualities and ideas of God that he expressed. These gave a picture of his true identity.

Man must express the qualities and ideas of God. Actually, this is man's substance, for it is all that is substantial about man. What can you do to an idea? You cannot destroy ideas, for they are eternal. Unless we see an individual as the spiritual image, or reflection, of God, we're not seeing what is real or true about man. We're not seeing him as God knows him to be. What Mind, God, knows about man constitutes his identity or individuality.

 

Self-imposed limitations

God never made sin, disease, and discord. They are simply beliefs or convictions of the human mind. Actually, they are impositions - educated beliefs that would try to impose all kinds of limitations upon us. Sometimes we prove very gullible to these efforts.

Let me read an item clipped from my hometown newspaper: It is headed "All in the Mind" and goes as follows: "The treachery of human imagination was graphically illustrated by a recent experiment with absolutely harmless, totally inactive placebos (sugar pills). Two Nebraska physicians made a study of 49 members of a church group which volunteered to cooperate. The 49 were given small uncoated white tablets - completely inactive - flavored with just a trace of quinine, and told there was nothing dangerous in the 'medication' but they might feel peculiar sensations.

"Twenty of the 49 subjects reported variously that they were made tired, drowsy, dizzy, lightheaded, weak and nervous, that they were troubled with visual disturbance, headache, loss of appetite, increased appetite, abdominal cramps or drying of the mouth. The effects increased as the dosage of harmless tablets was increased, until some members of the group refused to cooperate any further because of the severity of the side effects." Actually there was no physical reason for any of the effects reported - the group suffered from their own false beliefs as to what they thought might happen.

False beliefs of sin, sickness, discord are presenting themselves to us each day and we need to he alert to reject these aggressive suggestions of mortal thinking or they will impose their falsities upon us. "Do you have tired blood?" If you watch television, you have been exposed to this type of suggestion - or, perhaps that pleasure and satisfaction come from sensual indulgence of one kind or another. We must watch what we accept, and learn to be governed by spiritual facts in any situation.

Now to this point, we've seen that God is Life, self-existent, perfect, and eternal; that God is ever present, expressed through divine ideas; that man is God's image and likeness - His exact reflection whose origin, substance, and life are in God. The real essence of life is to know and understand God. Then, recognizing our true nature as God's expression, we shall manifest His qualities and attributes in our daily experience.

Christ Jesus not only came to show the real essence of life; he also promised abundance. He said: "I am come that they might have life, and that they night have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). What is true abundance? You will recall that at the beginning of this discussion I mentioned Jesus had no material possessions other than the clothes he wore; so obviously Jesus was not referring to material abundance. His very mission was to rouse humanity from a limited, material sense of life and substance by revealing the spiritual nature of life and all that it includes. The Master knew that life was much more than a mere sense of existence.

Mrs. Eddy refers to this fact when she says: "With Christ, Life was not merely a sense of existence, but a sense of might and ability to subdue material conditions" ("Unity of Good," p. 42). The Bible relates how Jesus demonstrated the ability of the Christ to subdue any material condition. Through the Christ, the true idea of God and man, lepers were healed, sight was restored to the blind, and a storm was stilled.

It wasn't any personal ability that gave Jesus this power but his clear manifestation of the Christ, Truth. Through his works Jesus proved that he understood the Christ to be his true, divine nature. His mission was to show mankind the availability of the Christ in human affairs.

 

Jesus proved constant supply

Jesus' expression of the Christ enabled him to meet every demand made upon him. When he needed a room to observe the passover, it was supplied. The necessary tax money was found in the mouth of a fish. Multitudes were fed with basketfuls remaining.

All of these experiences were consummated not through material channels but by his clear understanding of the infinite nature of God's abundance as ever present. You can express the Christ, your divine sonship, right now. Then you will find your needs met and you will experience a greater measure of health, happiness, supply, and activity than ever before.

Let me tell you how a friend of mine demonstrated the ever-presence of the Christ and proved that the Christ is available to all who open consciousness to divine ideas. He was a successful businessman and had invested much of his wealth in the stock market. Then in a market crash he lost all that he had accumulated over the years. Overwhelmed and discouraged by the loss of what he felt was his substance, he decided to take his own life.

He started to walk to a nearby body of water, when he saw the sign of a Christian Science practitioner on a building along the street. He told me that something impelled him to stop in and talk with this practitioner. He wasn't actually seeking help so much as finding someone who would listen to him unburdening his woes.

After listening patiently, the practitioner asked him: "How did you make all your money?" My friend related something of his business experience. As he talked, it became evident that what he believed to be his material substance had come to him through his expression of spiritual ideas. He had been honest, dependable, helpful, and intelligent in conducting his business. These qualities of thought which he had expressed had won him many friends and customers.

The practitioner then pointed out that his real substance was not money or any other form of matter but rather the divine ideas that he had daily lived and practiced. This had brought him success. The practitioner then asked: "Have you lost the ability to express these divine ideas?"

My friend had to admit that he was still as capable as ever to express them. He saw that right at hand he had all he needed to continue living. His material wealth had only been the outward evidence of a right state of consciousness. Since nothing had impaired his ability to express the Christ, the practitioner told him to go out and to continue expressing these divine ideas. This would be utilizing his true substance.

 

Physical ailment vanished

In the spiritual awakening that followed, my friend put aside the suggestion of suicide and started an earnest consecrated study of Christian Science. Wonderful things began to take place in his experience. A physical ailment of many years' standing was healed, and he was happier than he had ever been. New opportunities opened up for him in business and he married a fine student of Christian Science and enjoyed a happy home life. He proved that spiritually understanding the Christ does indeed bring a more abundant sense of life.

I might add that as he demonstrated a more spiritual sense, he also found himself better off financially than before this experience. Actually what had taken place in this man's experience was that he had been awakened from the false belief that matter was substance to the realization that true substance was wholly spiritual. He had learned that only as he lived and expressed the Christ, Truth, could he have a truly abundant sense of life.

Today, many are finding health, happiness, peace, and joy through demonstrating the Christ in their daily experience. You, too, can have these blessings if you will strive to express the spirit of the Christ in your daily affairs.

Just think what this would do for the world as a whole. The Christ manifests no lack or limitation. The Christ knows no discord or disease. The Christ manifests nothing of a warlike nature, no political, social, or economic injustice. The Christ includes only harmony and the perfection of God because Christ is the manifestation of God.

As the Christ appears in the thought of humanity, the world will express greater peace and harmony and justice - the life that is truly abundant with God's blessings.

Today Christian Science is revealing to men how they can avail themselves of the Christ in human affairs. In fact, Christian Science is the second coming of the Christ and thus is able to show us the way to the abundant life promised by Christ Jesus.

 

Mrs. Eddy found instant healing

No better proof of this can be found than in the life of its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy. She was sickly in her early years and, like the woman mentioned in the Bible, had turned to many physicians but was no better. Widowed at an early age, she had to depend largely upon the kindness of friends and relatives for her needs.

The climax came when a physician pronounced her to be dying as the result of a fall. In her extremity, she turned wholeheartedly to God. Taking her Bible and opening it at random, she caught a glorious glimpse of the spiritual promise of Jesus' healing works and was instantaneously healed.

While rejoicing in her healing, Mrs. Eddy wanted to know just how she had been healed. For three years she searched the Scriptures to find the answer and recorded her answer in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." So today, in this textbook we have the complete revelation of Truth which fulfills Jesus' prophecy: "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever" (John 14:16).

Christian Science, the promised Comforter, the prophesied second coming of the Christ, is here. If you will accept and practice its teachings, wonderful things will take place in your experience.

Let me tell you what her discovery did for Mrs. Eddy. After her discovery of Christian Science she was eager to share this blessing with mankind. She again turned to God for guidance and saw that the best means was to establish a church for this purpose. No funds were available so she had to rely wholly upon God. As she expressed the divine ideas that had been revealed to her, she healed others, creating interest in her teachings. As more people were healed and blessed, more interest was created. Soon there were enough interested to establish a church, and then another and another.

The original church is known today as The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston Massachusetts. All other Christian Science churches (and today there are several thousand around the face of the globe) are branches of The Mother Church. They stand as a testimonial to the fact that Mrs. Eddy truly understood the Master's words: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

Now, let us talk about how these spiritual truths in Christian Science can benefit you - how they can lift you above the limitations of the physical senses and be made practical in daily experience. The way is through prayer. Through prayer we are enabled to recognize man's unity with God. Prayer can't be used to change anything that is real in God's perfect creation. Prayer changes our false beliefs and concepts and brings us into harmony with all that is real and eternal.

 

The prayer of understanding

So prayer in Christian Science isn't pleading for God's goodness; it is the revelation of what we really are and have as the sons of God. Prayer shows us what God is and awakens within us the desire to be like Him. This prayer constantly reveals to us new discoveries of God, His infinite goodness, His omnipotent power. We have a name for this kind of prayer - Christian Science treatment. Christian Science treatment is not blind faith or hope; it's the prayer of understanding. It is prayer of spiritual conviction - the conviction that whatever is true and right in any situation has already been established through the operation of divine Principle, God, and must be expressed in human experience.

This scientific prayer does two things. First, it denies evil or error, whatever false material thinking affirms about any situation; second, it affirms what God knows to be true about the situation. It denies that evil has any reality and it affirms what is actually going on according to God's law of universal harmony. So, in Christian Science treatment we never ignore an error or try to wish it away. The purpose of treatment is to bring correction to a false situation. Pretending that it doesn't exist would certainly not correct it. You can see that if a musician in playing a composition made a mistake, he couldn't ignore it and hope to bring out harmony. He would have to recognize his mistake and correct it.

In much the same way we pray in Christian Science. We never ignore evidences of sin, sickness, and discord. We deny that they could ever have a place in God's creation which is always good. It's the understanding of the perfection of real being that gives us divine authority for denying all that is imperfect. Then we affirm what we know are the true facts: that man, as the child of God, is whole, sound, perfect, intact, well made. As we steadfastly maintain these facts and understand the spiritual reality of life, we see discords eliminated and harmony manifested in individual experience. Christian Science treatment is the understanding affirmation of God's perfect government as the law to every situation.

 

A child’s trust in God

Let me tell you how this was done in the experience of a grandchild of an earnest Christian Scientist. The child had been a regular attendant at a Christian Science Sunday School for several years. When she became ill, her parents who weren't Christian Scientists, took her to a medical doctor who advised an immediate operation.

After her arrival at the hospital, she was again examined and it was discovered that she was also a victim of leukemia. However, the parents were advised that the operation should be carried out as scheduled. The child begged to go home insisting that God would heal her. Faced with the doctor's verdict of incurability and the child's pleas, the parents consented to the grandmother calling a Christian Science practitioner.

When the practitioner learned of the child's faith in God and that the doctors had declared her case incurable, she agreed to take the case. The child had no fear of an incurable disease called leukemia but she did have faith that God would heal her. The practitioner denied the material verdict of incurability and affirmed the omnipotence of God, divine Principle, the only true lawmaker. She replaced every suggestion of the physical senses with the spiritual facts of man's true being.

The child's conviction and the practitioner's spiritual understanding of God's power and perfection proved to be an invincible combination. The following morning an examination showed not only no need for the operation but no trace of leukemia. The child was healed. After another day of examinations and tests, the girl was discharged and returned home where she enjoys a normal sense of health and activity.

Mrs. Eddy writes: "No evidence before the material senses can close my eyes to the scientific proof that God, good, is supreme. Though clouds are round about Him, the divine justice and judgment are enthroned" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 277).

Sometime ago I had an experience which illustrates this point. Our plane was preparing to land at Copenhagen from an altitude of 27,000 feet. As we nosed down, we entered a dense overcast. It was so thick that we couldn't see the wing tips of the plane. Down, down went the plane until it seemed at any moment we must crash onto the airfield. However, we soon broke through the overcast some distance above the field and landed safely.

Had the pilot been deceived or confused by the evidence of his senses he could never have landed. He had not been watching the fog but his instruments, and he had been listening to the radar controller who was guiding him. He had to depend upon more than what he saw. In this case he depended on instruments which did for him what his unaided physical senses could not do, and thus, he landed safely.

Later, I thought how true this is of Christian Science treatment. The physical senses present to us much evidence which, if accepted, would blind us to the spiritual facts of being. If we don't perceive the unreliable nature of material sense, then we become its victim. But, like the airplane pilot, if we turn away from its evidence and seek true guidance, we're able to chart a safe course. He used instruments to enlarge his normal capabilities. In Christian Science we turn wholeheartedly to God.

Prayer in Christian Science or Christian Science treatment vitalizes our experience. It enables us to deny that man can be subject to imperfection of any kind by teaching us the facts of real being. You will see then that you live because you reflect Life, God, the creative Principle of all being. This is the prayer of understanding that will bring to your experience the abundant life, the life of health, purity, and goodness.

 

Only material sense dies

From our discussion what conclusions can we now reach about the life abundant? First, that the way to eternal life comes through a knowledge of God and man's relationship to Him. Second, the only way we can find true abundance is through the Christ, which brings us an understanding of the spiritual nature of true substance expressed as divine ideas. Finally, we can conclude that we don't find this abundant sense of life by dying and going to some far-off place called heaven.

The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Romans, said: "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). On another occasion, he said: "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (I Cor. 15:51). Yes, we shall all be changed through accepting the spiritual sense of life, and this will be the death of sin in our experience - the death of false, material sense. As this takes place, we see man and life as perfect and eternal.

We need to so purify our sense of life that it is found inseparable from divine Life, and therefore includes nothing of a finite nature that can die. When Jesus ascended above all mortal concepts, he demonstrated this fact. Christian Science shows us how we can ascend above mortal concepts and experience this same sense of life. By keeping our consciousness free from all the claims of mortality — this is the way we can treasure our own sense of life and prove that it isn't death, but the understanding of God, Life, that makes man immortal.

My friends, Christian Science is the way of abundant life. By faithful practice of its teachings the whole of humanity can be redeemed from material beliefs and awakened to spiritual reality through Christ. The opportunity is here for all. Some years ago there appeared in the Christian Science Sentinel a statement by Mrs. Eddy that sums up the thought that I would like to leave with you. She said: "Life lies before you glorious; banish the shadow, seize the substance thereof, and God, good, is with you alway."

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 15, 1973, under the headline "The Way of Abundant Life – a present opportunity".]

 

 

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