It's been said that almost every grade school girl at some period dreams of owning a horse, and almost every teenage boy involved in athletics dreams of competing in the Olympics and/or playing in the majors—baseball, soccer, etc. But only a small percent of girls and boys realize their dreams. In a similar way, it's probably true that almost every individual who has had a healing in Christian Science feels a desire to heal others, while only a small percent realizes those dreams to the degree they would like.
This raises a few questions: Why does a simple healing in Christian Science inspire a desire to heal others? Why do so few see it fulfilled? How can the desire be fulfilled?
WHY THE DESIRE APPEARS
As I look out my study window this very moment, across the street a bank of forsythia is in full bloom. It's an overcast day, but even in this lessened light the yellow blossoms radiate and vibrate like a huge bonfire.
The forsythia didn't do this all by itself. A botanist would say material laws of nature caused it to happen, but there's more to it. To the Christian Scientist who discerns spiritual ideas where material objects appear to be—to the spiritual thinker who is engaged with the metaphysics that "resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul" (Science and Health, p. 269)—the forsythia is a divine idea governed by the laws of God that cause it to spring forth with vibrant spiritual color.
It's something like that with the desire to heal others in Christian Science. The yearning that a single healing stirs in our hearts is not our own. We do not generate that tenderest of loves. A psychologist may suggest a human explanation, but she mistakes. To the Christian Scientist whose heart is suddenly warmed with a previously unknown affection, it is the power of the Holy Ghost, the fire of Christ, the love of God for all His creation, that glows in him. We want to heal because we cannot help wanting to heal. The childlike love that brought the healing includes an irrepressible, natural desire to share it. The two are linked like light and heat. We are like a tot who involuntarily smiles when his dad walks in the room. We are like the forsythia that blazes and the firefly that glows naturally. God is working in us "to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). We should feel comfortable with this desire and let God nurture it.
Every healing in Christian Science involves a discovery or an insight, sometimes minute, other times grand, of the spiritual cosmos beyond matter. It is the greatest of all discoveries. It is a greater, deeper discovery than that of an astronomer who has glimpsed a new galaxy and bursts to share with the world, or a discovery by a physicist who mathematically calculates and then verifies a new particle, and is eager to share with colleagues.
Spiritual discovery in Christian Science is greater than these because it is discernment beyond matter itself into actual spiritual substance. It is discernment of the materially invisible. It accompanies Christian Science healing because healing in Christian Science is based on spiritual understanding. It reveals what actually exists in the place where matter appears to be. It is insight into cosmic reality. And it brings with it what might be called the awe of love, the urgent desire to share this discovery with others through healing. This desire need not surprise us because it is so natural. Some want to shout it from rooftops, as a friend said recently. Others want simply to be led by God to experiences in which they can quietly share through healing even a tiny bit of what they have glimpsed. But for everyone it is the most selfless love. It is not for personal recognition or profit. It is for the glory of God.
Jesus said simply, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17).
Mrs. Eddy was similarly stirred by this love, and put her sentiment into these simple words:
My prayer, some daily good to do
To Thine, for Thee;
An offering pure of Love, whereto
God leadeth me.
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 253)
WHY THE DESIRE ISN'T ALWAYS FULFILLED
Most kids experience competition. If it isn't being shoved aside so another kid can be first on the bus, it's a desire to be chosen first in a pickup game, or to sit closest to the storyteller. Some say it's human nature, but when I was a boy, my dad raised cocker spaniels, and even the temporarily sightless newborn puppies competed to nurse.
Competition runs deeply in human life, and extends through adulthood. Even the disciples competed with their Master for who should be greatest (see Mark 9:33, 34), and Zebedee's wife tried to promote her two sons with Jesus (see Matt. 20:20–23). But it's not just who owns the biggest trucking rig or farm, who lives in the largest house, who is elected to the highest office or runs the fastest 100 meters. At the deepest level, isn't it a question of whose ideas shall rule?
Every tendency in human thought toward what is good, moral and pure, honest and intelligent, progressive and noble, is met with resistance. Whatever is better than the presently accepted norms of matter is opposed as a threat to the status quo of matter. It is opposition to the Christ, or God's loving Truth that all things are spiritual, by what Paul called the carnal mind, or the mesmeric insistence that matter and its laws govern the universe.
For those who yearn to practice Christian Science healing, the opposition of the carnal mind is especially acute. The reason is that the theology of Christian Science thrusts more deeply and successfully at the theories of matter than any other concepts. It exposes matter's falsity in science, theology, and medicine. In proud self-defense, these systems resist Christian Science more persistently and subtly than they resist competing systems of thought that are matter-based. Christian Scientists find that whenever we would do good at spiritual levels, evil seems right there opposing that goodness, like a ball tossed in the air has to come back down. It even appears that the greater our love of service, the more insistent are the distractions of the world. A practitioner told me that once when he had some especially important work to do for a patient, he kept being distracted by wondering how much gas was in his car!
These distractions from tender, Christly love are termed by Mrs. Eddy, animal magnetism. That is her Scientific term that refers to the attempt through temptations in thought to pull down our natural affection for good and substitute an attraction toward evil. It goes beyond competition to open assault. It is either malicious toward holiness or ignorant of holiness. The malicious form would not only smother the desire in a Christian Scientist to heal others, but would attempt to harm him in the process. The ignorant form is too dull to value good, and lazily prefers evil.
If arguments push into one's thought that one cannot support oneself and one's family through the practice of Christian Science, or that one hasn't enough understanding to heal others, or that one could never attract patients, these are obvious suggestions of animal magnetism. They are also liars. God sustains what He inspires. Every one of these suggestions is raw opposition to the natural desire to heal through the system God has given the world in Christian Science, which is the Comforter Jesus promised (see John 16:7). Whatever would oppose the fulfillment of the Master's prophecy is opposed to God and His Christ and has no actual authority.
HOW THE DESIRE CAN BE FULFILLED
If one has not yet found a mentor in the practice of Christian Science, or lacks confidence in their ability to heal, God's gentle love will compensate those limitations as surely as the sun will rise. "Charity never faileth," Paul promised (I Cor. 13:8). If one doesn't yet understand how to wisely choose patients, or to balance human law with divine statutes, or why to not try to mix Christian Science treatment with lesser systems, or the difference between scientific prayer, spiritual treatment, and mental manipulation, he can find every answer in Science and Health. Nothing is left unsaid in that book for total guidance of the spiritual healer. Also, many can be supported through class instruction from an authorized teacher of Christian Science who advertises in the back of this magazine. Just look for the word "(teacher)" in their listing.
Every heartfelt, humble desire to heal others
is awakened in Christian Scientists by God.
The point is that every heartfelt, humble desire to heal others is awakened in Christian Scientists by God, and is being sustained and fulfilled by the very same God. It is like the forces that cause the forsythia to bloom also send the rain and sunshine that nurture the blooms. "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).
Without question, the desire to bless others through Christly love and healing can be wholly protected. The system of Christian Science is no more helpless before ignorant or malicious evil than sunshine is helpless before a rain cloud or spring can be held back by winter. The law and love of God are supreme over every suggestion of evil. "Evil is not supreme; good is not helpless; nor are the so-called laws of matter primary, and the law of Spirit secondary" (Science and Health, p. 207).
To desire to heal through Christian Science is a holy desire. It is from God. The God who impels the desire, supports and fulfills the desire for those who trust Him. Christian Science teaches that God is all-power; so evil is powerless regardless of what form it appears to take. Evil is no more influential than ghosts, which are recognized by intelligent people to be imaginary. Nary a one has ever had real influence. If someone believes in them, he has only to wake up to the truth of God as all, and he is free, like waking up from a night dream.
Christian Science has a universal destiny. It is sent by God to save all mankind—every individual—from evil. It is not a man-made theology struggling to explain cosmic mysteries of good and evil. It is not a popgun of human theories against a mad animal of material domination, nor a flimsy shack to protect from a raging typhoon. It is mankind's safe harbor. It is the final and divinely inspired message of spiritual healing from God to man that defines all reality. Its discoverer is Mary Baker Eddy. She understood it better than anyone else in her day or ours. She described her discovery: "It is not a search after wisdom, it is wisdom: it is God's right hand grasping the universe,—all time, space, immortality, thought, extension, cause, and effect; constituting and governing all identity, individuality, law, and power" (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 364).
Spiritual healing is at the core of Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, and called on all its members to be healers (see Church Manual, p. 92). The desire to heal others is as natural to Christian Scientists as the desire of robins to sing and of forsythia to bloom. Every one who responds to this desire is answering a call from God and is safe. No evil exists to oppose, delay, or thwart the plan of God for His little ones, whom we all are.
J. Thomas Black is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher. He is a member of the Christian Science Board of Directors.