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Shared Reflections

Prophecy and healing today

From the January 2015 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Like many people all over the world, I love the Bible! I find it is an infallible and eternal source for solving problems. I love the stories, the songs, the wonderful healings. But I have often wondered where the successors to those memorable Bible prophets are today? They were the ones who, through their closeness to God, led whole countries into freedom, abundance, and health. One of today’s greatest needs is for strong, honest, upright leaders, and for those who can bring peace and healing to individual and collective problems. Throughout the Bible, prophets were these leaders and healers. It got me thinking as to what actually is a prophet? Is it just someone walking around in an ankle-length cloak, wearing a long beard? This does not exactly fit today’s world! So who are today’s prophets? A prophet has been defined as “a spiritual seer” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 593).

This definition is from a timeless textbook on healing called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by a remarkable woman, Mary Baker Eddy. We’ll talk more about this book later. So what is a spiritual seer? It is someone who sees beyond what the five physical senses tell him. Ancient prophets saw a world beyond what material vision presented. 

Elisha, one of the greatest prophets in the Bible, when alerted by his servant that he was in great danger and was surrounded by enemies, prayed: “Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (II Kings 6:17). He saw something invisible to human view. So being a prophet or spiritual seer is having the ability to see something that doesn’t at a first glance appear to be there. It is having the ability to see the invisible, to discern something beyond what our five senses are telling us. 

Perhaps an example of this is the two accounts of creation in Genesis, the first book in the Bible. In the first account God created everything and called it good; He made man in His own image and likeness and created him “male and female”—one; He gave man dominion, and He blessed everything. 

Then in the second chapter, which tries to explain the material universe, another God, with a different name appears and makes a universe of “good and evil,” creates man of the “dust of the ground,” makes Adam and Eve separate from each other, condemns man “to till the ground … in the sweat of [his] face,” and curses everything. Traditional theology has concentrated on the second account of creation, the familiar one of Adam and Eve, and has left the first one almost unnoticed. This second account—the creation of the “dust man”—succeeds in the space of a few short verses to give an origin for every major evil known today; lack, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, guilt, loneliness, family friction, sibling rivalry, male chauvinism, woman’s subservience, fear, anger, jealousy, murder, and death, to name only a few.

Now we can’t believe in two gods and two creations. Which one are we going to choose? I love this poem, which puts it all so simply. It reads in part: 

Tell me which man you think of as you, 
Genesis One or Genesis Two.
Which of the records do you believe true – 
Genesis One or Genesis Two?
If you think of yourself as recorded in One,
You reflect the one Mind are His blessed Son.
But if you’re the dustman recorded in Two,
According to Einstein, there is none of you!
But as you exist, and you know that you do,
The Truth is the man made in One, not in Two.
Yes, Genesis One is the only real you
So away with the dustman in Genesis Two!

Throughout the Bible and history, spiritually minded men and women gave their lives to sharing their understanding of a God who is all-power and ever present, who blesses everything, makes His loved child in His own image and likeness, and who creates everything “very good.” But where is this all-good universe in a world ripped apart by racialism, hatred, cruelty, injustice—a world filled with mass starvation, recession, and unemployment? Where is this all-good universe when all we see are the horrors of man’s inhumanity to man through the lens of the television camera? It is there, regardless of the graphic scenes presented to us. 

The Bible tells us: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Corinthians 2:9). A true prophet, or spiritual seer, has developed the capacity to see things as they really are, the way God made them. But this view is not something that can be discerned by our limited physical senses. 

We are often so accustomed to a limited, material view of life, that we remain unaware of God’s presence and power. It could even be said that we are living in an age of aggressive materialism, where everything shouts that matter is the only thing that is real and valuable. But perhaps today we could open the door of thought to see possibilities we have never seen before. Let’s enlarge our vision to see that there is something beyond materialism, something much more substantial and real.

A true prophet, or spiritual seer, has developed the capacity to see things as they really are, the way God made them.

God’s ever-presence may be invisible to the five physical senses, which only see, feel, hear, taste, and smell matter; but God is knowable and feel-able through what is called spiritual sense. Spiritual sense is an integral part of each one of us. It is defined by Mary Baker Eddy as “a conscious, constant capacity to understand God” (Science and Health, p. 209). It is not something that belongs to some and not to others. Every peach has a stone hidden in its center, and each one of us has spiritual sense. We may not be aware of it, but we have it, and it is brought to light through prayer. No guilty past or ignorance can block our awakening right now to God’s presence and power, even though they are invisible to our physical senses. In Science and Health, the book quoted earlier, where we found the definition of prophet, the author writes, “As mortals gain more correct views of God and man, multitudinous objects of creation, which before were invisible, will become visible” (p. 264).

So how does this apply to us? Shouldn’t we all become prophets—spiritual seers and healers—bringing harmony and peace to individuals and our world by seeing beyond the pictures of discord, sickness, and lack that appear to confront us? So how do we do this?

The book Science and Health tells us: “Mortals must look beyond fading, finite forms, if they would gain the true sense of things. Where shall the gaze rest but in the unsearchable realm of Mind?” (p. 264).

So here is a guideline in showing us how to become a prophet, a spiritual seer, a Christian healer: to “look beyond fading, finite forms” to “gain more correct views of God and man.”

You may remember a few years ago there was a craze for “Magic Eye” images. They were pictures of fascinating, but apparently meaningless chaotic patterns, which appeared to have no shape or form. But as you trained yourself to see beyond those meaningless shapes, a totally hidden, clear, perfect “3D” image developed out of the surface chaos like an instant photo.

Now the reason that I share this example is that it is one of the most wonderful modern-day parables of seeing something that doesn’t appear to be there at first. Again, this textbook we’ve been quoting from tells us how to see these apparently invisible images; “We must look deep into realism, instead of accepting only the outward sense of things” (Science and Health, p. 129).

Does the mortal picture in front of us look chaotic, an unsolvable problem, totally without meaning? Do we look only at the outward depiction? Well, right there is the most beautiful “3D” image of God and His very good creation and man made perfect in God’s image and likeness. Often the hidden picture is not easy to see; we think it is never going to come into focus. But the picture is there, and with patience and persistence we can see it. It is exactly the same with being a prophet or spiritual seer. Sometimes that invisible “3D” image of God’s perfect creation comes into focus very quickly, but at other times it needs more patience. But it is always there for us to see. 

Let’s look at this from another perspective. Over the centuries original thinkers and discoverers have refused to agree with the generally accepted view of the way things appear to be. Columbus refused to believe that land could not be reached by sailing west across the Atlantic, and proved that it could be.

Christ Jesus, the greatest prophet and spiritual seer who ever trod this globe, because of his oneness with his Father, God, was able to do things that the world said were impossible.

Copernicus, the astronomer, challenged the beliefs held for centuries, which stated that the earth was the center of our solar system, and that the sun and planets revolved around it. This liberated our world. Just over 2,000 years ago, Christ Jesus, the greatest prophet and spiritual seer who ever trod this globe, because of his oneness with his Father, God, was able to do things that the world said were impossible. He healed the sick, cured the insane, fed multitudes on very limited supplies, walked on water, stilled violent storms, and raised the dead. He recognized and lived in a kingdom invisible to those around him, the kingdom of heaven, and it was this ability to see and know the power and presence of God that enabled him to make this kingdom of God evident to those around him through healing. It was as if he lifted the veil off sick and suffering humanity to reveal man as unencumbered by materialistic views, but as upright, whole, and free. In many ways this can be thought of as “revealing” rather than “healing”—a revealing of something that is always there, rather than a patching up of something discordant. Jesus promised us: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; … And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth” (John 14:12, 16, 17).

Let’s just consider this for a moment. In the early Christian era, up until 300 years after Jesus’ resurrection, historians recorded many remarkable cases of healing, similar to Christ Jesus’ healings. During that period, healing was a normal part of the practice of Christianity. But about 250 ad the early church began to shift the focus from Jesus’ teachings—the Christ, Truth, he taught—to a worship of the man, Jesus. Also, the bishops of the early Church wanted to establish a bigger and more powerful church; and in order to get more members they compromised standards and allowed in elements of paganism and idolatry.

The result was, they got what they wanted, more members, but they sacrificed healing and spirituality. After the year 325 AD the practice of Christian healing had virtually been lost; original Christianity was unrecognizable; and the Dark Ages, a period of intellectual darkness and economic regression, had begun.

Then, just over 1,500 years later, this light of Christian healing was discovered again by a remarkable woman in New England, Mary Baker Eddy. Mrs. Eddy is undoubtedly the most outstanding spiritual thinker in 2,000 years. Through following the master Christian’s teaching and way of living, she reinstated primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing. She made a discovery far more revolutionary for the world than that of Columbus or Copernicus. She revealed a concept of man that totally shattered all previously held beliefs. She dared to state that man is not the material object he appears to be—the dusty Adam man—but something quite different, man as the image of God. She discovered the Science of Christ Jesus’ teachings and named her discovery Christian Science. Today it is the practice of this Science that enables us to be modern-day prophets, to see things as they really are and to heal.

Let me tell you a little about the life of this extraordinary woman. Her first 45 years seemed largely a wilderness period. She experienced continual ill-health, the agony of early widowhood, the heartbreaking separation from her only child. She endured deep grief over the loss of loved ones, the humiliation of homelessness, the loneliness of friendlessness, the desolation of an unfaithful second husband, and the despair of poverty. But throughout these years of hopelessness she never ceased to pray and study the Bible. In her darkest hour, apparently at death’s door, her search was rewarded. Through her own instantaneous healing, she discovered the Science of Jesus’ way of healing.

In an autobiographical sketch she writes: “My immediate recovery from the effects of an injury caused by an accident, an injury that neither medicine nor surgery could reach, was the falling apple that led me to the discovery how to be well myself, and how to make others so” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 24).

The remarkable thing about her experience was that Mrs. Eddy did not allow her healing to remain just something for herself. Her life radiated love, and her impelling desire was to bless others and share what she had found so that others could experience healing as she had. Her constant Bible searching led the way to her writing and publishing her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. 

The remarkable thing about her experience was that Mrs. Eddy did not allow her healing to remain just something for herself.

The rest of her life was spent refining the book and building a Church to protect it—a Church that would practice the teachings of the Bible and her book Science and Health for individual and community healing and renewal. She proved that the Science of true Christian healing had never been lost, but only needed to be discovered and practiced again, as it was by Christ Jesus. God’s presence and power were always present and just had to be recognized.

Let me tell you an interesting experience. A number of years ago, two women were travelling in India. There they met a Fakir, an Indian wonder-worker, who invited them to his home to see the beautiful rose bush he had cultivated. When they arrived, he took them out into his garden. But there was no rose bush anywhere in sight. Then, suddenly out of nowhere, the bush appeared, covered in roses. He cut one of the blooms and gave it to the ladies. The rose was not artificial; it was real. They took it back to the hotel, put it in water, and it lasted for two or three days. 

When they arrived home after their trip, still much amazed by the experience, they shared what had happened with a friend. She just put back her head and laughed and said, “Don’t you see how that Fakir fooled you? He hypnotized you so that you didn’t see the rose bush. Then he broke the mesmerism, and you saw what had been there all the time—a beautiful rose bush.” 

We hear of times when hypnotism makes individuals believe something is there when it isn’t. But this is the reverse—it is making someone believe something isn’t there when it is! Sometimes we are literally hypnotised into thinking that the Adam account of creation with all its problems is the real one; but when that hypnotic state is broken (when we see through the mist that went up from the earth in the second account), we recognize the present, tangible reality and harmony of the first account, right there, intact and untouched—the account of man made in God’s image and likeness, where man is given dominion, and where God is constantly seeing all that He has made as very good. This is when healing occurs. 

For many centuries after Christ Jesus healed and the early Church lost its ability to heal, the world believed that Christian healing had been lost, and methods of healing became almost exclusively material. But the beautiful rose bush of Christian healing was still there, waiting to be recognized and practiced. So how does this spiritual seeing, this Christian healing through the practice of Christ Jesus’ teachings, take place? One of the beatitudes in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Bible is: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8, emphasis added).

So being “pure in heart”—seeing as God, the one I AM is seeing—enables us to see God and His perfect creation. Jesus always identified himself as the Son of God, and said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). It was his divine nature, the Christ, always at one with God, that enabled him to look out on the world with God, and see it as God was seeing it. The Bible tells us that “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). 

I refused to accept that there could be anywhere someone who did not reflect all of God’s loving qualities.

Jesus saw everything the way God was seeing it. He saw the world through the “camera of divine Mind” (Science and Health, p. 264), God, as Mary Baker Eddy described it, as made perfect, pure, whole, and as untouched as He, God, was. And this brought about healing. In showing us how to look through “Mind’s camera,” the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, tells us: “The crude creations of mortal thought must finally give place to the glorious forms which we sometimes behold in the camera of divine Mind, when the mental picture is spiritual and eternal” (p. 264).

The author goes on to explain how Jesus’ way of seeing spiritually healed: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy” (Science and Health, pp. 476–477).

Isn’t this illustrated by the magic eye pictures, where the need is to see differently? Jesus saw “God’s own likeness” (the perfect 3D image) right where mortals were seeing “sinning mortal man” (the meaningless chaotic shapes on the surface), and it was this correct view that healed the sick. Let me share an illustration of this in my own life. When my husband and I moved into a new home a few years ago, our immediate neighbor, for some unknown reason, took an extreme dislike to us, and more specifically to me. He would not talk to me or acknowledge me, and even when another neighbor tried to introduce us, he would not say hello or recognise my presence. He was basically very rude and objectionable, and I felt hurt and rather resentful. How was I going to live next door to this man? I tried to find reasons for his antagonism, mulled it over and was very troubled by the whole situation. 

Then I realized I had to see this man as God was seeing him, as God’s own image, the exact likeness or reflection of God, expressing all God’s wonderful good qualities. I had to look beyond what my five physical senses were telling me about this man, see through the veil of mistaken, distorted identity, and see him as he really was. I needed to see God’s ever-present goodness, expressed as man. I needed to love, not just human love, but spiritual love, the love that flows out from God, as the sunbeam flows out from the sun. It is this warmth of spiritual love that melts away mists and enables things to be seen in their true light. 

So I did exactly that! I refused to accept that there could be anywhere someone who did not reflect all of God’s loving qualities, that we both expressed the same God, the same divine Mind, and therefore any disguise of false identity could be stripped away. I worked and prayed this way for a few days, allowing only Godlike qualities to abide in my thought, for myself and for my neighbor. And to be honest, I don’t quite know what happened, but suddenly this man completely changed, and to cut a long story short, he became literally the perfect neighbor. He constantly asked if he could do anything for me, and the extent of his care was extraordinary. One Saturday, he wheeled 14 wheelbarrow-loads of horse manure from the stables some distance away, to my home, and spread it all over my garden! Not the nicest job at the best of times! He was a changed man. 

What had happened? The radiant sunshine of spiritual love had melted away all the evidences of that rude, hard exterior and revealed the true man, which had been there all the time. In a wider sense, just think what would happen in our world, if we all endeavoured to do this with our so-called enemies as well as our friends. If this simple idea was put into practice worldwide, what a planet of love we would all live on.

As we mentioned earlier, it is helpful sometimes to think in terms of “revealing” rather than “healing.” Healing often implies that something has to change, whereas revealing is just pulling back the curtain on something that is always there and is true. Let me share with you a healing that happened to me that illustrates this further.

While on a very tightly scheduled lecture tour, about an hour before I was due to give a lecture, I suddenly became very ill. The lecture had been planned many months before; I had travelled a great distance to give it. And there was no one to step in and take my place. I knew I had to be there. I sat down on the edge of the bed and endeavoured to get “into the closet (of prayer) and shut the door” as Jesus instructs us, and to listen to what God was telling me about my true identity as His loved child. 

A deep peace filled my thought, and I heard God gently saying that I was His pure, perfect, unchanging reflection, expressing all the good, the life, and the action of God Himself.

At first it was difficult to keep my mental door shut on the barrage of suggestions of “what ifs” and “I can’ts.” Gradually a deep peace filled my thought, and I heard God gently saying that I was His pure, perfect, unchanging reflection, expressing all the good, the life, and the action of God Himself. I thought of the example of the hall of mirrors, which I had visited recently, where I saw myself in the distorted mirror with a huge head, tiny feet, and out-of-shape body. I was not fooled into thinking that image was the real me, nor did I have to rush up to it and try to correct it—it just wasn’t true!

The distorted image was a cause for amusement not of distress, and I realized that this was exactly the same with this picture of illness. My true being had never changed; I was, and always would be, entirely separate from that lying image of sickness. It just was not me. I took time to rejoice in all the wonderful, God-given qualities that I inevitably expressed as His reflection, and the whole distressing picture disappeared. I felt completely well! I got into the car, drove to the lecture, rejoicing every mile of the way, and completed the assignment with enormous gratitude and joy. 

How often our viewpoint is a material one, and not the viewpoint of God! We look at matter, rather than out from God’s viewpoint. So how do we attain this viewpoint? How do we gain this spiritual mindedness that enables healing to take place? Mary Baker Eddy, without doubt the world’s most effective modern-day Christian healer, wrote this to one of her pupils about spirituality and healing: “Pray daily, never miss praying, no matter how often: ‘Lead me not into temptation,’—scientifically rendered,—‘Leave me not to lose sight of strict purity, clean, pure thoughts; let all my thoughts and aims be high, unselfish, charitable, meek,—spiritually minded.’ With this altitude of thought your mind is losing materiality and gaining spirituality, and this is the state of mind that heals the sick” (Eddy to James Neal, 29 January 1897, L03524, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection; see also Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer, Amplified Edition, pp. 189–191).

So let’s look at how this purified thinking or healing prayer works. It is really more of an affirmation than a pleading. First, we quietly affirm that there is no other Mind, Principle, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, or Love—but God. We acknowledge joyfully that He is the only power, the only presence, and the only action taking place anywhere at any time. (This is obeying the First Commandment.) The need is to start with God and His goodness. “In the beginning God,” are the first four words in the Bible, and this is a natural starting place. “In the beginning God.” not “In the beginning there’s my problem.” If we start with the problem, we’ll finish with the problem.

Then we move on to include ourselves and others as God’s children—as the image, the exact reflection, of this all-loving, all-good God. We see man expressing what God is—Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love. We see him as pure, as perfect, and as complete as God is. We see man as the emanation of God, like the sunbeam that flows out from the sun. We see man as the expression of God, like the smile is the expression on your face. The smile is one with the face; you can’t separate the two. We see man as a divine idea, including all the good that God is, complete, safe, cherished, and eternally loved.

Having established who man really is, we can then turn to see that the ungodlike images of man as sick, lacking, unhappy, lonely, diseased, and discordant are lies; they are limited views—untrue pictures of reality that can be seen through and dismissed as illegitimate and causeless, like the distorted images in the hall of mirrors. The man of God’s creating is always perfect, just as God is perfect, and a prophet or spiritual seer recognizes this unchanging fact, in spite of the evidence before his five physical senses.

Our loving Father-Mother God is waiting for us to become better acquainted with Him, to recognize ourselves as at one with Him.

Universally, our planet appears to be drowning in unsolvable problems: mass starvation, climate change, environmental issues, increasing crime, insufficient care for the sick, and national and tribal hatreds.

Today’s problems, under different historical, geographical, and cultural conditions, are the same ones encountered by nations and individuals in Bible times. In those days prophets saved nations and healed individuals through their understanding of God and through seeing spiritually. Today that same quality that brought healing in Bible times is still here, ready to be practiced. Mary Baker Eddy writes in her textbook: “The prophet of to-day beholds in the mental horizon the signs of these times, the reappearance of the Christianity which heals the sick and destroys error …” (Science and Health, p. 98).

Ben Franklin once prophetically said: “Whoever shall introduce into public thought the principles of primitive Christianity will revolutionize the world.” This primitive Christianity—the capacity to heal, comfort, and uplift—is here, today, available for all. Our loving Father-Mother God is waiting for us to become better acquainted with Him, to recognize ourselves as at one with Him, to see His perfect creation and everything in it as whole and good, just as He is seeing it. This is being a prophet. This art of Christian healing has already been discovered. Now all that is required is for it to be practiced.

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