I have a comforting picture on my desk of a bird braving a storm with one little baby bird under each outstretched wing. To me, the picture symbolizes the presence of God, divine Love, sheltering us and keeping us safe from matter-based thinking that would lead us away from Him.
Matter-based thinking—what the Bible calls the carnal mind and what Mary Baker Eddy refers to as “mortal mind”—argues that we are material beings, separated from God, helpless and alone. It would distract us from God’s goodness and challenge our inherent spirituality that is ours as His sons and daughters.
These matter-based thoughts may offer subtle arguments against the reliability of Christian Science or God’s love. Friends or family may suggest that relying on Christian Science for healing is unwise or will lead to an uncertain result. That’s when it’s useful to recognize that God is our strong defense against all evil, and because God is infinite Mind, no thought opposed to God has a place in our lives. As ideas of Mind, we are protected from such subtle arguments. Recognizing God’s power to save and heal, we can dismiss them from our thoughts and lives.
It’s an approach I’ve found helpful and it’s based on a saying attributed to the heavyweight boxing champion, Joe Louis, who said of an opponent, “He can run, but he can’t hide.”
I use this statement to challenge matter-based thoughts. Even when they try to present themselves as our own thoughts and get us to run after them—like a boxer chasing an opponent—our understanding of the Christ, God’s message of truth to each of us, will enable us to see the difference. Instead of scurrying around chasing these lies about our true nature, we’ll cast them out. Here’s how those matter-based thoughts might tempt us:
Say we’ve just finished studying the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson. It was wonderful, inspiring. Instead of carrying that inspiration with us, however, we get drawn away from this God-centered approach and become absorbed in worries about work, church, or chasing whatever is next on our “to-do” list. When that happens, we need to switch off the “automatic pilot” of material thinking and insist, “Christ is here, and so is fresh inspiration.” Then we need to listen for divine Mind’s guidance as to our next steps.
Or maybe we’ve just finished listening to the inspired reading of the Bible Lesson during a church service. Now it’s time for the collection. This can be just the time when distracted thinking would come in—thoughts about what we’re going to do after the service, or other plans. But at that very moment, instead of turning our gaze away from Christ’s impartations in that service, we can focus thought on the spiritual message we have just received and let that uplift our thoughts about the rest of the church service and the activities that lie ahead.
Erroneous suggestions of the “carnal mind” (see Romans 8:7) may be so subtle that it is as though they are hidden in consciousness. But error is powerless in the presence of Truth, God. As we cultivate closeness to divinity, any subtle errors will come to light—not to discourage us but so that they can be destroyed.
We can be confident that the lies of materialism can’t overwhelm us.
As we grow more certain of Love’s care and resist the suggestions of the carnal mind, we can also be confident that the lies of materialism can’t overwhelm us. A lie, by definition, cannot affect Truth. Lies have no defensible position and therefore cannot impair an individual’s desire to grow spiritually. Mortal thinking may be very subtle in its arguments, but it can’t hide from Truth! Truth detects the lies, calls them out, and eradicates them.
What is our role in disarming the lies of mortal existence? We might begin with pondering the truths we’ve just read, thought about, or heard at church. Establish in thought the “take away” ideas that you want to stay with you. Debunk the lie, and take the time to replace it with the truth, or with what God, divine Love, is saying about a situation.
For instance, let’s say we’re feeling we’re sick with a disease. By insisting that health is ever present because its source is in God, we begin to lift the burden of disease from thought. Error may appear to resist that truth and even claim that disease is real and to be expected. But Truth will not let error have the last word—or any word, for that matter.
No phase of human belief can prevent steady progress toward the ultimate attainment of Truth. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: “As time moves on, the healing elements of pure Christianity will be fairly dealt with; they will be sought and taught, and will glow in all the grandeur of universal goodness” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 329). We can do our part by identifying the lies that would hinder us and shining the light of Truth on them so their illusory nature is revealed and destroyed.
If we feel sick or fearful or resentful, we might think we can be separated from divine Love, but that is impossible. God’s voice is the voice each of us hears and obeys because this is the only intelligent voice. It is leading us to green pastures and still waters or, in other words, to peace, fulfillment, and abundance. Praying in this way will reveal the light of Love, shining right where the darkness of sin and evil would try to claim a foothold. Love uncovers and dispels the darkness. This prayer affirms what God knows, and it has all of God’s power behind it.
Mrs. Eddy writes, “Truth’s immortal idea is sweeping down the centuries, gathering beneath its wings the sick and sinning” (Science and Health, p. 55). To me, this is another way of saying to mortal modes of thought, “You can run, but you can’t hide!” Truth is like a powerful wave, and no matter-based thinking can stand against it. After all, Truth is omnipotent. There is no power that can resist it. Don’t you love that God is gathering beneath His wings all humanity, including all who have been tricked into thinking they have to accept the inevitability of sickness or sin!
Truth is like a powerful wave, and no matter-based thinking can stand against it.
An important thing to keep in mind is that we are not the ones who need or want to hide from God. Nor do we have to hide from whatever mortal thoughts come our way. Rather, we can do our part by rejecting them as having no hiding place in us. Each prayer, each time we ask for help in Christian Science, or participate in church, we are learning more about our relation to Love. And Love is showing us that we have never been out of Love’s presence.
The Bible tells us, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). This spiritual fact is well worth pondering. And in doing so, let’s take the time to claim that God is making Himself known to each of us, to each friend and neighbor, all over the world.
We can insist that spiritual consciousness is the true consciousness of everyone. Just like the mother bird I mentioned earlier, Love never allows a single idea to languish or to be separated from Love’s care. Erroneous thinking can’t hide from the irresistible truth of Christian Science, nor can Love be prevented from saving humanity.
Elizabeth Crecelius Schwartz is a Christian Science practitioner who lives in Menlo Park, California.