Advances in publishing and communications have had the effect of shrinking the globe, bringing the news of the day to us more quickly and graphically than ever before. Today worldwide coverage of an event can be almost instantaneous. Yet while technological changes have made news more readily available, they have not altered the mental standpoint from which we perceive and respond to events, and this is what ultimately determines their impact on us.
What is this standpoint? Humanity by and large has accepted the view of existence that seems evident to the physical senses—that life is in matter and the product of matter, and that evil is as real and as probable as good, if not more so. That’s why reports of dissension, violence, suffering, and corruption seem to be natural and unavoidable. Reacting to them with anger, fear, or grief also seems normal from this material standpoint. But such reactions only serve to support the claims of evil. The highest hope this material mode of thought can offer is to devise ways to contain evil and to manage its effects.
Christian Science offers a radically different standpoint, a spiritual basis of being that is drawn from the Bible’s inspired Word. This Science acknowledges God as the sole creator and governor of existence, and the true nature of what He created as entirely spiritual, expressing His nature as Spirit (see John 4:24). It asserts that life, substance, and intelligence are actually divine and that good alone is real (see Genesis 1:31). Its authenticity is shown in the direct, healing effect it has in human life; this healing happens when the human mind reaches a perception and heartfelt acknowledgment of the truths of Science as they relate to specific issues.
If we turn thought toward the Divine, and base our conclusions wholly on the spiritual reality of God’s omnipotent goodness and the perfection of His spiritual creation, we can perceive that the claims of evil are unfounded. We come to realize that they have no basis in divine Spirit, and so no basis in fact. As we more and more see the truth of the spiritual model, the claims of evil that come to our attention seem less and less plausible until we no longer accept them as legitimate.
None of this is to suggest that we’re overlooking what clearly needs healing in the world. Rather, we’re directly addressing it through a growing understanding of God.
If we find it hard to hold firmly to a spiritual point of view, we can yield more fully to the power of Christ, the divine idea of God exemplified by Jesus. The Christ is divine Truth’s influence always present in human thought to guide us and to make the divine presence apparent. Christ reveals an unshakable foundation from which to respond to world issues with compassion, courage, love, and healing. Our prayers, founded on an understanding of God as all-powerful good, and evil as powerless, can help lessen evil in the world, not just enable us to manage its effects.
Christ reveals an unshakable foundation from which to respond to world issues with compassion, courage, love, and healing.
In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy presents an illustration that I’ve found helpful in seeing that the reports of material sense are not to be trusted. She writes: “A blundering despatch, mistakenly announcing the death of a friend, occasions the same grief that the friend’s real death would bring. You think that your anguish is occasioned by your loss. Another despatch, correcting the mistake, heals your grief, and you learn that your suffering was merely the result of your belief. Thus it is with all sorrow, sickness, and death. You will learn at length that there is no cause for grief, and divine wisdom will then be understood. Error, not Truth, produces all the suffering on earth” (p. 386).
Although Mrs. Eddy refers here to a report that is untrue, not just from a spiritual standpoint but to human perception as well—since the individual had not died—I find that the “blundering despatch” concept is useful to remember when faced with evidence of evil in our own lives or in the world. The phrase can remind us that, when correctly viewed from a spiritual standpoint, the supposed action of evil is actually without foundation in fact, because it does not originate in God. And this is true regardless of the magnitude or strength of the evidence that material sense provides in support of evil’s claim. In a way, then, any report of evil can be seen as a blundering dispatch.
I had an experience some years ago that has helped me see this more clearly. I was working at the time for a small homebuilding firm. One of my duties was to coordinate our customer service, acting as a contact for our homeowners and working to resolve any issues they had with their houses. I remember getting the word from our service crew that we had a “live one”—a homeowner they described with colorful language and were sure would offer no end of problems for me. I laughed off this report, but unwittingly accepted the thought that I might have trouble with this woman at some point.
Not long after that, I got a call from her. It quickly escalated into a full verbal assault on our company and our employees, and ended with her abruptly hanging up. I was stunned by this blistering attack, but knew that it was my job to resolve the issue. Here I was faced with a choice. I could accept the “blundering despatch,” so to speak—the outward view of a woman full of anger and hatred. Or I could turn in prayer to God, acknowledging her true nature as His beloved child, only capable of expressing the gentleness of the divine Father-Mother, Love.
I prayed. And when I was ready to call her back, the phone rang. It was my homeowner again. Now she was calm and humble, ready to work with me to find solutions to the issues with her house. The power of the Christ had prompted me to recognize her actual, spiritual selfhood as God’s expression, and it dissolved that unnatural, hateful state of thought, which was no part of who she really was. The effect of prayer was immediate and permanent. We maintained a cordial, cooperative relationship with this woman throughout the term of her warranty, which extended for two years.
This experience has been a springboard for me with broader applications. When faced with reports of regrettable world or local events—be it disease, disaster, violence, corruption—I mentally label the report a “blundering despatch.” While there’s material evidence to support its claims, it has no foundation in spiritual fact. I am really confronted with the same choice that I had at the office: Will I accept as conclusive the evidence that evil is a reality over which I have little or no control, or will I stand firm in the conviction that God’s goodness is all-powerful and ever present and that I can demonstrate that fact, even if in modest ways?
If we allow spiritual perfection to be our standard—what we accept as genuinely true—we won’t be mesmerized into believing the fables of a materially based sense of existence, and so we’re in a better position to help humanity through prayer. But passive acceptance of sin and suffering as normal and inevitable can do nothing to bring healing to individual or world thought, and it abandons us to the whims of general opinion.
Accepting material cause or effect as having authority was not the practice of our Master, Christ Jesus. The greatest demonstrator of the Christ-power showed us his method of practice by example. In the Gospel of Luke, for instance, we are told that he was implored by Jairus to come to his house to heal his daughter, who was dying (see 8:41, 42, 49–56). As Jesus went, a messenger arrived with a dire report, telling Jairus: “Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.” Did Jesus believe this dispatch? No. He clearly realized it wasn’t the final word, and he responded with comfort and healing derived from his Christly perception of the spiritual facts. Even in the face of what appeared to be death, he was firm in the conviction that the child’s life was intact, indestructible in God, who is ever-present Life. His correct evaluation of the situation enabled him to restore the child, demonstrating that the spiritual fact of ever-present Life is always at hand to be seen.
Jesus’ perception of the spiritual nature of reality was the basis of his teachings and healing works and is at the heart of what we call the gospel. The gospel, or good news, that he preached might be summarized in these words: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7). For Jesus, the rule of harmony that characterizes this kingdom was not just some future state. His words and deeds indicate that the kingdom of heaven is the spiritual actuality of existence here and now. What better news could there be? But his teachings also make clear the need for regeneration, for the purification of thought that enables us increasingly to glean the spiritual facts pertaining to any situation, and thereby help bring healing to humanity.
So, how will we perceive the news? Will we accept the evidence of the material senses, the blundering dispatches of mortal thought? Or will we be guided by spiritual sense to accept the “good news” that Jesus brought to the world, and embrace humanity in the healing love of the gospel of Truth? The gospel is never stale, never outdated, never yesterday’s news. It is always fresh and pertinent—the inspired outlook by which we can greatly bless our world.