Not long ago a Christian Science practitioner called me and asked, "How can I do more effective healing?" I told her that was exactly the subject I had been pondering ever since I entered the public practice.
What took me into the practice was really twofold. First, I felt the healing approach of Christian Science was more needed than anything else in the world. This was a service I could pour myself into without reservation. Second, I felt that Christian Science presented the truth about reality. I was hungry to discover more about this truth. I felt the public practice would allow me to explore it to the fullest degree.
How can we do even more effective healing work? In answer to this question I told the practitioner there was a verse from the Bible I had been thinking about. It's from Isaiah. Mary Baker Eddy quotes it at the beginning of the chapter "Recapitulation" in Science and Health. It reads, "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little." Isa. 28:10; Science and Health, p. 465. To me this says that there's an answer to each problem as we go along. I find this very reassuring. We don't need any big, earth-shaking answers in order to progress in our healing work.
On their journey to the Promised Land, the children of Israel had enough manna for each day. In one of his parables Christ Jesus tells us that if we're faithful over a few things, we'll be made ruler over many. See Ex. 16:11-26; Matt. 25:21. We just need to use the spiritual ideas that we're given every moment.
Christian Science, in harmony with the Bible, gives humanity this message: God is infinite, perfect Spirit, and His creation is intact. It's spiritual and perfect. It's perfect now. It's continuing and it's always good. The false beliefs of so-called mortal mind may contradict this. But these beliefs cannot prevail. Sooner or later we'll see them to be exactly what they are—false, illusory, unreal, nonexistent. As we discover more and more of what our existence really is, these beliefs drop away. Then we experience healing. Healing is discovering reality.
In Christian Science there are many ways to discover spiritual reality and therefore many approaches that we can take to healing through this Science. Each one is exactly suited to the moment. So we need never be stymied in our healing work. There are no dead ends, only further spiritual ways to progress in understanding our real being.
It may help to look at three general approaches to healing and see how we can use them even more effectively. One approach is to deny the reality of matter. Many people find this denial hard to accept. Human thought tends to resist it and asks, "Is it really true that matter is only a false mental concept and not substance itself?"
Why deny the reality of matter in our healing work? Because matter is the medium through which disease or pain or deterioration seems to appear. Results come with this denial because when you eliminate a belief in matter you eliminate the supposed obstacle to demonstrating the perfection of unchanging spiritual substance, comfort, joy, and power. When you deny matter, you also invalidate the element of time. You destroy the belief that there's a point in time when a disease could have begun or an accident could have occurred.
Denying matter, however, doesn't make it disappear. We still seem to have a material body and material scene around us. But the belief in matter becomes subordinate to our understanding of God's supremacy, and this opens the way to healing.
We can support our conviction about the nothingness of matter in other ways in addition to a straight denial of it. For instance, we can acknowledge that God's love is embracing us. In this way we're not denying matter head-on. But in effect we are denying it. As we feel the total love of God, we rule out of our thought anything contrary to the perfect care that this loving God extends to us. Certainly God's love rules out disease, pain, deterioration. Divine Love outweighs the belief in matter. God's love is not canceled out by material appearances; it cancels out the appearances of evil.
We don't have to make some major, heroic effort in demonstrating the healing power of God's laws. Mrs. Eddy showed how we can deal with the claim of matter on a progressive scale. In an early issue of the Christian Science Sentinel the question was posed, "If all matter is unreal, why do we deny the existence of disease in the material body and not the body itself?" She answered, "We deny first the existence of disease, because we can meet this negation more readily than we can negative all that the material senses affirm." The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 217.
Does this mean we should forsake our absolute basis of treatment that matter is unreal? No, it doesn't, because Spirit is infinite, All. But the way that we prove matter's unreality step by step is by denying its abnormal conditions—sickness and disease.
When we're suffering, we do want to see a change in matter. I recall a young man who had an open wound suddenly appear on his body. It was alarming and painful. He said to me, "I know I need to deny the reality of matter. But I sure would like to have this material body that I seem to have right now be more comfortable." This is a legitimate request. He had every right to expect comfort and a normal, healthy condition in his present concept of body. Health is a natural outcome of the basic fact that reality is spiritual, not material. And the young man did have a quick healing as a result of Christian Science treatment.
The body is actually consciousness, a manifestation of thought. Everything really takes place in the mental realm, even though the body seems to be a material object separate from thought. But just recognizing that the body is a mental concept doesn't automatically free us from its ills. We need to understand that in truth identity is totally spiritual, expressing God's perfect, spiritual laws.
God is divine Principle. He's the source of our being. As Principle, God expresses Himself in spiritual laws of order and harmony. These laws cannot be reversed. If they do appear to be reversed, we can turn this around on the basis that God is the only lawmaker, and we don't have to accept anything less than true law.
We hear a lot these days about the mind/body connection—that is, the effect that thought has on the body. Yet, the action of the human mind is not where we find refuge from sin and disease. We find refuge in the divine Mind, because it is the only genuine Mind and cause, and it causes good alone. This Mind is your true Mind and is constantly imparting ideas to you. As these divine ideas enlighten and correct your thought, misconceptions about your body as material yield to the true view of body with its timeless, indestructible substance and ceaseless action. But even while this process of thought correction seems to be going on—the process we call healing—the fact of matter-free existence remains the reality of you and everyone else.
So our first point in healing is this: Matter is unreal, because Spirit is infinite, the only true substance. Your identity is spiritual now. Realizing this does bring healing.
Now another point. You deserve to be healed. Too often we think, "I'm not good enough to be healed or to heal others. I have too many faults. I'm not spiritually-minded enough." This is scholastic theology; it claims that man is a mortal sinner and is therefore constantly penalized. The laws of God free us from this belief, pointing to man's eternally spiritual, upright nature and Jesus' demonstration of that fact.
Science and Health makes this significant statement in regard to healing: "Man's moral mercury, rising or falling, registers his healing ability and fitness to teach." Science and Health, p. 449. What is our moral mercury? Is it only our level of human righteousness? Or is it something higher? Certainly our moral condition relates directly to our ability to heal, and sound morals are always conducive to being healed. But if we measure our worthiness by a human measuring rod, we can find it pretty hard going. The Apostle Paul found it hard. He saw that only through the power of God and His Christ could freedom from sin be found.
The Bible is constantly turning us to God as the source of our goodness. For instance, we see this in Peter's and John's healing of the man who had been lame from before birth. See Acts 3:1-16. The Bible says that after the healing, the people came running toward them amazed and wondering. Peter said to them, "Why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?" He then explained that it was through faith in the name— that is, faith in the nature—of Jesus Christ that the man was made strong and received "perfect soundness." The Christ, which Peter demonstrated in restoring the lame man, was the same Christ that enabled Jesus to do his healing works.
What is the Christ? It's the true idea of God. Jesus acknowledged that he had no power within just himself or from his own righteousness. He attributed all power to God. But he didn't leave himself out of the picture. He identified himself as the representative of God's power. He said, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." John 5:19. Jesus did the works of God. God does not do His works without His representative—His spiritual expression, man. Man is absolutely indispensable to God. Jesus' representation of God was indispensable. Your representation of God is indispensable. How do you represent Him? By bringing out His nature in health and well-being.
If you feel you're not spiritually-minded
enough to heal others, think about the
qualities that do the healing. You didn't
create these qualities. God did. They're
present in you now and always.
Can we expect to heal even if we haven't demonstrated perfection? We'd be in a sad state if we had to wait until we had completely proved our God-given perfection before we could heal! It would make Christian Science pretty impractical.
Where does our moral mercury fit into our healing ability, then? Is our moral mercury our balance sheet of right and wrong? It certainly includes that. But in a broader sense couldn't we think of it as the measure of our inspiration, our confidence in God, our feeling of closeness to Him?
How do we raise our moral mercury? Through the grace of God. As we express such qualities as joy, confidence in good, gratitude, unselfed love, our moral mercury is rising. What happens then to our struggle with right and wrong? It gets resolved. When you're rejoicing, how can you envy? When you're feeling confident of God's support, how can you fear or distrust? When you're feeling grateful, how can you complain? When you're committed to caring about others with unselfed love, how can you hate or even dislike?
If you feel you're not worthy enough to be healed or if you think you're not spiritually-minded enough to heal others, think about the qualities that do the healing. You didn't create these qualities. God did. They're present in you now and always. They have the power to blow away every lie that would distort the health and true nature of man.
Sometimes people think that if they start praying from the standpoint of man's sinless nature, they won't make the specific effort to clear out moral faults and shortcomings. That's not going to happen. If you honestly affirm your sinless nature, whatever is clogging your natural purity of thought will keep announcing itself until you turn from it. Then it disappears. If we want to achieve genuine moral freedom, we have to start from the standpoint of man's sinless, Godlike nature.
Science and Health states, "A mental state of self-condemnation and guilt or a faltering and doubting trust in Truth are unsuitable conditions for healing the sick." Science and Health, p. 455. That kind of mentality we don't need! Instead, allow the Christ to elevate your attitude and your actions. That will give you the greater moral freedom for effective healing.
Up to now we've focused on two points in regard to healing: denying matter's supposed reality and raising our moral mercury. The third point we might consider is the influence on us of other people's beliefs. Of course, it's always the so-called carnal mind that claims to act either directly on us or through other people's thoughts. So it's the carnal mind that we ultimately need to reject, and we do this by rejecting the various forms it assumes.
In the Old Testament the children of Israel were warned against being influenced by the beliefs of the people in the lands that they entered. They were advised to remove the groves and high places of pagan worship; to worship God alone. When the kings obeyed this command, their reign prospered. When they disobeyed, the country suffered. We can think of the land as the land of human consciousness, in which are groves of material worship and high places of material knowledge. These would turn our thought away from God as the only power to bestow health and harmony. But we're free to reject their erroneous influence because it has no authority or power!
In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy explains how general human belief produces so-called medical results. She writes, "When the sick recover by the use of drugs, it is the law of a general belief, culminating in individual faith, which heals; and according to this faith will the effect be." She continues: "Even when you take away the individual confidence in the drug, you have not yet divorced the drug from the general faith. The chemist, the botanist, the druggist, the doctor, and the nurse equip the medicine with their faith, and the beliefs which are in the majority rule." She concludes, "When the general belief endorses the inanimate drug as doing this or that, individual dissent or faith, unless it rests on Science, is but a belief held by a minority, and such a belief is governed by the majority." ibid., p. 155.
Do we feel bombarded today with claims of what this or that drug can do? "Inundated" might be more accurate. The premise is that man is a physical being who needs physical treatment to be well. Advertising for pharmaceutics is everywhere. This, too, promotes the premise that man is a physical being who needs a rearrangement of chemicals in order to find health. No wonder Mrs. Eddy wrote: "The universal belief in physics weighs against the high and mighty truths of Christian metaphysics. This erroneous general belief, which sustains medicine and produces all medical results, works against Christian Science; and the percentage of power on the side of this Science must mightily outweigh the power of popular belief in order to heal a single case of disease." ibid.
Who determines the direction of thought in our society today? In the Old Testament it was the kings who were the leaders of thought. The prophets were their advisors. They either followed the prophets or they didn't. Today those who understand divine Science have the opportunity to uplift the course of thought in the world to Truth and Love and not be followers of general public belief. The Bible speaks of true believers as "kings and priests unto God." Rev. 1:6. What is the realm that we reign over? Is it a material world out there, or is it the world of our own consciousness? It's in our own consciousness that we make our decisions as to what we worship and what we accept as real. We can be as free from the influence of general material thought as we choose to be. So we need not be alarmed by the influences that would seem to control society. Mrs. Eddy writes, "The Christian Scientist is alone with his own being and with the reality of things." Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 20. What a powerful basis for freedom and dominion!
Does this mean that Christian Scientists isolate themselves from the world? No. When, in our prayers, we're alone with the reality of things, we're uniting ourselves with the truth of God's creation and with nothing opposite to it, and this is a healing influence in the world. We're seeing others as they really are, under God's perfect government. So we're helping to remove the influence of the carnal mind on them as well as on ourselves.
Let's continue to progress firmly and steadily in our understanding and demonstration of God's healing power. The ministry of Christian Science healing is a holy work, and God certainly guarantees its success.
We all, with open face beholding
as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed
into the same image from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
II Corinthians 3:18