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The ever-living Christ and God’s ever-flourishing Church

From the April 2017 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Many years ago, as a new student of Christian Science, I learned about the intrinsically mental nature of existence. As I became more alert to this, I found my sensitivity to the general drift of thought increasing. For instance, I recall that as Easter approached I detected a distinct change in the surrounding thinking—a sense of gloom and doom seemed to settle on the seasonal atmosphere of renewal.

As I prayed about that, it felt clear to me I was picking up on thoughts focused on the tragedy of the crucifixion, rather than the joy of the resurrection. 

The crucifixion, of course, is key to the Easter story. It’s right to reflect on the array of worldly thinking that conspired to cut short the life and ideas of the most spiritually minded individual that’s ever lived. 

Yet Christ Jesus and his message weren’t vanquished; the opposite occurred. The spiritual understanding he had exemplified in healing others was magnified to human view as it empowered him to emerge triumphant over the grave. 

This spiritual understanding was the Science of the Christ—the apprehension of Deity as the eternal source of undying good. And its presence was not restricted to Jesus’ life or time. It’s as present as ever, to reveal our higher nature as God’s immortal sons and daughters.

As Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “It is the living Christ, the practical Truth, which makes Jesus ‘the resurrection and the life’ to all who follow him in deed” (p. 31).

One vital way in which to follow Jesus “in deed” is by healing—leaning on the understanding of man’s God-reflecting, immortal nature to bring about moral and physical improvement in ourselves and others—as exemplified by healings on record throughout this magazine.

But if this “living Christ”—this spiritual perception of our true immortality—can forward such healing, could the opposite occur? Might a mental focus on mortality be harmful? For instance, if people persistently believed someone was sick, spoke of them as sick, and widely broadcast that belief, could it lead to an individual becoming sick?

In a piece called “Mental Practice” in Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, Mary Baker Eddy pinpointed how such “action of mind over mind” could induce sickness unless met “with the certainty of Science” (p. 220). What divine Science makes clear is that there is actually but one Mind, which is God, all-powerful good. There are not many minds, both evil and good.

The capacity of this Christly knowledge of God as the only Mind to overcome a mentally induced belief in sickness is illustrated by a thought-provoking healing from the archives of this publication’s sister magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel.

In a nutshell, a woman suddenly felt her energy drain away, couldn’t breathe properly, and lost use of her legs. She felt she was passing on, but roused herself spiritually until all symptoms vanished. 

The next day her co-workers were shocked to see her. They—and people she knew across the country—had read of her demise in the previous day’s newspaper. Or so they thought! In fact, an identically named woman had passed on.  

“I realized that I had become mesmerized unknowingly by the thoughts of those who were ignorantly believing I was the woman in the obituary column” concluded article author Emily Wright Jaeger (“Truth or illusion?” December 14, 1992).

I’ve thought of this example when pondering another mental picture of imminent demise that can tempt us, one evidenced in articles, blogs, broadcasts, and podcasts that circulate. It is the belief that Christianity is passé and, more specifically, that the Church of Christ, Scientist, is fading away.

Are we ourselves tempted to buy into this mesmerizing mental image? Or do we meet it resolutely with the “certainty of Science” that turns away from any misperception of Church as matter-based and mortal to gain a higher view of its true identity as a timeless, divine idea?

This idea hit home once when visiting the Boston headquarters of the Church that publishes this magazine. A large mirrorlike pool of water lies just outside its two adjacent church edifices, and if you were standing on the other side of this reflecting pool in the stillness of a windless day, you’d see a pristine image of the beautiful buildings in the water.

But what would happen if the weather changed to breezy and overcast? The image would become dull and distorted as clouds gathered and the water shimmered. 

And what if that breeze grew into a storm? As winds lashed the water into non-reflecting waves, there would be no image left to see.  

Yet if you looked up from the turbulence of the pool, you would see the same church standing there—intact, solid, and secure.

So we can refuse to be mesmerized by either dullness or turbulence that might seem to associate itself with a material sense of church as variable and vulnerable. Instead we look higher to perceive the forever flourishing idea of Church, as defined in Science and Health, in part, as “the structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle” (p. 583).

That’s not to say we ignore issues that need resolving, such as fear, apathy, distraction, disengagement, discouragement. But turning from a material to a spiritual view of Church brings solutions to light and enables our present demonstration of its eternal vigor.

The same definition of Church paints a portrait of what the expression of such divine vitality looks like. It says: “The Church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick.”

Utility, elevated humanity, roused spirituality, and healing are evidences of thought yielding to the Christ—the ever-living Christ, which empowers us to rightly shape this era’s expression of God’s ever-flourishing Church. 

Tony Lobl

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