Many people in Christ Jesus’ day, not unlike today, saw resurrection as a mystical event happening far in the future, if at all. But Jesus knew differently. When his friend Lazarus died, Jesus assured Lazarus’ sister Martha, “Thy brother shall rise again.” Martha, perhaps not daring to hope that she would see her brother again, said, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” But Jesus, ever tender to those who sorrowed, opened Martha’s thought to a more profound and present view of resurrection with these words: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (see John 11:1–44). Jesus then visited Lazarus’ tomb and brought him, walking, out of his grave.
In the time that followed, Jesus continued to prove that “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:32). And when he presented himself alive after his own crucifixion and burial, he proved conclusively that the Christ, the spiritual idea of God and its manifestation in human affairs, is what raises humanity from death. He showed that man can no more lose life than numbers can lose the principle that governs them. Our life is eternal now because it is spiritual, the reflection of God, who is Life itself.
The major task before each of us, therefore, is to work toward our own resurrection from a mortal sense of life. We have the capacity to do this because the Christ is here now, enabling us to understand and demonstrate our oneness with God and rise from the material, beginning-and-ending sense of life to our indestructible spiritual life as God’s reflection. Each time we demonstrate the all-power of God, divine Truth and Love, in healing some discordant condition through the divine Science of Christ, we rise in the demonstration of eternal Life and take a step toward our complete resurrection from the belief of living in matter.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of the Science behind Christ Jesus’ works and teachings, makes clear that resurrection is actually an ongoing spiritual demand, not a material phenomenon or a one-time event. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she defines resurrection as “spiritualization of thought; a new and higher idea of immortality, or spiritual existence; material belief yielding to spiritual understanding” (p. 593). Every minute of every day, every event and phase of our lives, can be a time of resurrection.
Take, for example, marriage. When my first marriage ended in divorce, I was devastated. I could not imagine something dying that had shown so much promise in the past. But I tried to keep rising spiritually, correcting my own many faults, understanding love more deeply as an indestructible spiritual quality of my nature, proceeding from God. I gradually began to see that I had been harboring a very personal sense of love, one that was sensual, mortal, limited, and therefore, by definition, finite. Finite things have an ending!
And so I began to change. Whenever I thought about relationships or met someone new, I turned my thought, as best I knew how, toward God, divine Love, as the true source of love. I was not always successful in rising above a human sense of love, but I was convinced that my ultimate loyalty had to be to God and to His image, my true identity and that of everyone else—the spiritual expression of Love. I gradually became more confident that love could never be lost.
The major task before each of us is to work toward our own resurrection.
What was happening, I realize now, was that I was burying a mortal and finite view of love. Laying this view to rest enabled me to see and practice more of the eternal spiritual qualities that God expresses as life in man—qualities such as integrity, loyalty, patience, and wisdom.
Over time I felt more and more free from a narrow, personal view of relationships. At first I thought I was looking for a woman who shared my nationality and religion, but I later met someone who—though she was neither of those things—manifested an abundance of the life-affirming qualities I so valued, and we eventually married. This marriage has not only brought us a wonderful daughter but has enabled me to rise to a more practical sense of Christian Science—to an understanding of healing love that I had never understood before.
This experience also helped me comprehend more of what Jesus taught when he said, “They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage” (Luke 20:35). He was not preaching against marriage as a necessary human institution, for he also said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). To me, he was saying that, eventually, we all have to rise above sensuality and the belief that man is created by humans, and realize that we are eternally wedded to God, divine Truth and Love. As Science and Health explains, “It is only when the so-called pleasures and pains of sense pass away in our lives, that we find unquestionable signs of the burial of error and the resurrection to spiritual life” (p. 232).
Eventually, we all will fully demonstrate eternal life, yielding up all material sense of existence and living wholly and forever as God’s reflection. Each step along the way, each resurrection of thought, moves us closer to this ultimate goal. These steps involve Christ, Truth, freeing us, as often as needed, from the suffocating pull of a mortal, limited sense of life. It may seem like a big task, but each demonstration brings us closer to realizing our life wholly in God.
Jesus has shown us that the ultimate goal is reachable, and Mrs. Eddy has made the progressive nature of the pathway clear: “It is a sin to believe that aught can overpower omnipotent and eternal Life,” she says in Science and Health, “and this Life must be brought to light by the understanding that there is no death, as well as by other graces of Spirit. We must begin, however, with the more simple demonstrations of control, and the sooner we begin the better” (pp. 428–429).
Ultimately, the demonstration of eternal Life comes down to the demonstration of divine, indestructible Love in our daily lives. There is a wonderful hymn by Christian Science pioneer William P. McKenzie that captures this practical spirit of daily resurrection. It reads, in part:
With hope and faith, like exiles yearning
For homelands loved through patient years,
The hearts of men are homeward turning
To God Who giveth rest from fears.
Assured and safe in Love’s protection,
Great peace have they, and unsought joy;
They rise from sin in resurrection,
And works of love their hands employ.
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 381, © CSBD)
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