The times we live in are full of change. But it is sometimes difficult to evaluate whether the changes are good or bad, since it can take months or even years to assess the outcome.
This applies not only to nations but also to our individual lives. And living with uncertainty often leads to anxiety, especially about the future. We may doubt the continuity of harmony and progress, and fear that there are negative, destructive influences that could impact us.
Overcoming fear is not an easy task, as it seems to be based on facts. What the physical senses perceive, or what the various media present, appears to be tangible evidence of the power of evil. But Christian Science shows that evil is not a fact; it’s a false mental suggestion coming to our thought. And how we respond to it has a profound effect on our state of mind and our experience.
The basis of fear is outlined in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, where Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Fear was the first manifestation of the error of material sense” (p. 532). As she explains, material sense tends to look for cause and effect in matter—in that which is apparent to the five physical senses. But this perception of things is not reliable, as we can conclude from such common illusions as mirages, the appearance of a flat earth, and so forth.
With the material senses we see things that appear to be real but are in fact simply suggestions interpreted in various ways by people’s differing vantage points and thought processes. What may seem bad to one person is perceived to be good by another. Thus material sense is variable, which is the basis of its illusory nature. This faculty of perceiving external objects by impressions made on the organs of the body is therefore delusive.
But there is a sense we can trust to give us reliable information—spiritual sense. “Spiritual sense,” as Science and Health explains, “is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God” (p. 209). The Glossary of this book defines God as “the great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence” (p. 587).
Perceiving what is spiritually real—the perfect, unchanging substance that emanates from God—enables us to gain dominion over fear. As First John says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (4:18).
How does this work? Fear arises from the illusive suggestion that imperfect matter—limited, changeable, and destructible—is the real substance of a person, place, or thing. But spiritual sense translates this impression, showing us what God sees: all His creation as eternal, unchangeable, and infinite spiritual ideas moving together in concord. This is how Christ Jesus explains it to us: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).
Perceiving what is spiritually real—the perfect, unchanging substance that emanates from God—enables us to gain dominion over fear.
Judging rightly means seeing things the way God created them—including man (all of us) in His likeness, spiritual and perfect. Claiming that spiritual likeness is claiming our atonement with God. That at-one-ment is a confirmation of our inseparability from good. There is never any division, divorce, estrangement, or severance from God, who maintains us in our true spiritual identity and nature.
This identity is invulnerable to any claim of a mind apart from God. If we believe man has a separate, personal mind that is exposed to negative thought-forces such as fear, the antidote is in an understanding of divine Mind’s infinity and all-inclusiveness. That’s righteous judgment; it reveals man’s true, spiritual condition, thus destroying the belief, in human consciousness and experience, of any real source but God.
Christ Jesus gave us the remedy for fear when, on the Sea of Galilee, he and his disciples were in a boat being tossed to and fro in a storm. Jesus was asleep, and when they woke him and appealed for his help, he rebuked the wind. In the calm that followed, Jesus asked his disciples: “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).
Here Jesus implies that to overcome fear we need faith in God and His harmonious maintenance of His creation. Our faith lies in the fact that the only real substance is that of Spirit, which is not subject to any discordant condition. Christian Science teaches that material things have no real substance, so the only effect we can actually experience is a representation of Life, Truth, and Love. Fear of any other effect dissipates as we understand the all-presence of God, good.
One way fear creeps into thought is through the media. To the extent that the impressions conveyed by TV, movies, and the internet are based on a material sense of life, they are misleading and often induce fear. But we can rout these false images from our thought by understanding that the image and likeness of God is the only true image. God expresses Himself in pure and perfect ideas, not in sickness, sin, or death.
Because God, Mind, made all things spiritually, we don’t need to be intimidated by any apparent material condition. Infinite Mind, knowing only its own creation, excludes the possibility of another power. Fear can never stop the intelligent activity of Mind, which we reflect.
Through the faithful practice of Christian Science, the effects of fear—the belief of the absence of God—can be destroyed. And we can rejoice in God’s healing activity, the continuous unfoldment of good.
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