Some of the greatest healing experiences recorded in the Bible are briefly told. We need not on that account, however, be deprived of the tremendous significance for us of these evidences of God's care.
One such instance is recorded in Acts in the account of Paul's preaching and healing work in Lystra: "And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe."Acts 14:19, 20;
Here was Paul brutally stoned, presumed dead, and dragged out of the city. Then, the next day walking some thirty miles or so to another town! What happened between? The Scriptures insert the brief but momentous statement, "The disciples stood round about him." These Christians stood —doing what? In view of the magnificent consequences of whatever it was they did, we may reasonably assume that they didn't stand around wringing their hands, mourning, or quaking in fear or apprehension. No doubt they prayed.
On a previous occasion, at another testing time, some other disciples had not stood round about. Indeed, regrettably, on that occasion in the hour of their Master's greatest trial the apostles had fled, had deserted him.
Later, following his resurrection, Christ Jesus returned to comfort them, to reassure and strengthen them, to prove to them his victory over death. As Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health: "His resurrection was also their resurrection. It helped them to raise themselves and others from spiritual dulness and blind belief in God into the perception of infinite possibilities."Science and Health, p. 34;
Now, disciples in Lystra, faced with the crisis brought about by the stoning of Paul for having preached fearlessly of Jesus and his mission, did not abandon their teacher. At this testing time their reaction to the world's hatred of Truth was not to flee but to stand round about—to identify themselves unmistakably as companions of Paul and, no doubt, to support him with their prayers.
This episode recalls another Bible passage in the words of Paul himself: "Take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."Eph. 6:13;
And "the disciples stood."
What was the immediate and imperative need?
To stand for the unbroken presence of Spirit and Spirit's eternal expression.
To stand for the uninterrupted actuality of eternal Life and Life's untouched living and lively expression.
To stand for Truth's eternal manifesting of itself; and to understand that man, Truth's manifestation, constantly expresses spiritual reality and perfection.
To stand for the Christ, the healing presence of God bringing to light the evidence of man alive and well.
Is it not reasonable to assume that these Christians at this trying and challenging testing time were praying as Jesus had taught his disciples to pray, not in blind belief nor as mere humans petitioning, but in some measure of understanding of the one Father's all-power and immediate presence with His children? "It is neither Science nor Truth which acts through blind belief," says Mrs. Eddy, "nor is it the human understanding of the divine healing Principle as manifested in Jesus, whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth,—of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love." Science and Health, p. 12.
So "the disciples stood."
They stood where they had to stand, facing animal magnetism's fearsome claim of death. Facing it down, for it was proved powerless.
Paul "rose up," through healing giving proof once again of man's sonship with God, his present spiritual perfection untouched by the world's animality and hate.
How is it then today—does a friend need help?
Let us, as the disciples did with Paul, stand round about him in thought! Support—not criticize. Lift up—not tear down. Love—not condemn.
Let us stand for spiritual perfection, for man's freedom from fear or pain or illness or accident. Since God knows none of these, as Christian Science makes clear, we need not entertain them. If they claim to break into consciousness, we can rise in the consciousness of ourselves as God's expression to banish these presumptuous intruders from our thought and experience, knowing the unalterable allness of infinite Mind, wherein can be no opposite. Let us see our fellows as God knows them, as God created them, as His children. This is truly standing "round about" our neighbor.
We can claim for ourselves the vigor, the spiritual discernment, the total commitment to Truth that will keep us—not dragging our feet, but in the very forefront of Christian service. All men are our neighbors. Let us stand "round about" them all.