All students of Christian Science have much to learn from the example of the centurion who many years ago, according to the Gospel story, sought the Master and pleaded with him to heal his servant, humbly saying: "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man. Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it."
Translated into terms of presentday experience, the type of thinking which the centurion exemplified has deep implications for the seeker after truth. That Jesus himself recognized rare integrity and moral worthiness in this officer of the Roman army is attested by the fact that he "marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." To the centurion he said, "Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee." And his servant was healed in that hour.
In the centurion we find one who showed forth in his conduct many desirable spiritual qualities. In the first place, was it not a sign of true spirituality that he should have sufficient faith in the Christ-power to say unreservedly to Jesus, "Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed"? This recognition of the healing power of Truth betokened more than a small degree of spiritual perception. How many in those days hardened their hearts to shut out the Christ, yet this man, with the worldly background and military training of a centurion, turned with absolute faith to the truth in his hour of need. Spiritual discernment, intuition, expectancy, receptivity, and faith—all these qualities the centurion possessed in goodly measure.
Moreover, he possessed two other very important qualities—humility and unselved love. Of these he gave evidence in the fact that he, a man of high rank, should be solicitous for one who was his servant and, according to Matthew's version of the story, should himself come to Jesus. A captain in the Roman army, accustomed to giving orders to others, choosing to humble himself before a poor, unpretentious, much-reviled preacher of the Word of God! Would it not seem that such a man possessed a high degree of worthiness to receive the blessing of Truth? Yet in his instant recognition of his own human inadequacy and unworthiness in the holy presence of the Christ he cried out, "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof"!
How many mortals are willing to echo humbly in their hearts these words—"Lord, I am not worthy"? How often the temptation seems to come to reiterate rather: "Surely I am worthy to be healthy, happy, prosperous, and successful. Surely it is right that greater harmony should be manifested in my experience; that this burdensome problem should be solved; that this healing should be completed."
Like the centurion, every student of Christian Science must grow to perceive that mortal thought, on however high a plane, is never worthy to receive the Christ under its roof. The centurion proved his willingness to surrender, in the measure of his understanding, the belief in a mortal selfhood, with its pride of intellect and power, arrogance, willfulness, and self-assertiveness. Meekly he worshiped at the feet of the Master, seeking a purely spiritual blessing, and his prayer—the prayer of righteousness—was answered.
It is imperative that he who calls himself a Christian Scientist should understand the deep significance of this story. Upon him who names the name of divine Science is made the demand to recognize the clear-cut and definite dividing line between matter and Spirit, the human and the divine, the unreal and the real. This implies willingness to lay down even the belief in a good human being, even one who seeks to understand spirituality and be benefited by it. It is not scientific to linger in a false sense of material selfhood and attempt to use Science merely to make this illusory mortal sense harmonious. This is one of the most subtle errors that would retard the growth of the student of Christian Science, and it must be unmasked and destroyed.
Mortal mind, so called, is not and never will be worthy to perceive the truth of being. It can never understand God or attain spiritual perfection. "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." Through spiritual sense alone can reality be discerned in divine Science. In the light of revealed truth it is clear that there is no mortal mind, since God, divine Mind, is infinite and fills all space.
The student of Christian Science must be on his guard not to try merely to heal or improve material sense. Instead he must utterly repudiate it. Healing is brought about as the result of right thinking, which lifts one into the spiritual realm of reality, where no sense of matter or error can possibly exist. The individual then loses sight of evil in the radiant glory of the truth of man's being as God's spiritual idea. To look to matter for healing is to credit the lie that there is something to be healed. It is to accept as true that there is an error in belief and thus to perpetuate it. The Christian Scientist looks to God, Spirit, alone for evidence of health, substance, happiness, and abundance of good. In Spirit's infinite creation there is nothing which needs to be healed or restored or improved upon. All is perfection, harmony, spiritual completeness.
It is disobedience to God which acknowledges two powers, matter and Spirit. Our textbook states (Science and Health, p. 279): "Spirit and matter can neither coexist nor cooperate, and one can no more create the other than Truth can create error, or vice versa. "Jesus, our great Exemplar, did not become victimized by the argument of duality. It was because in his Christ-selfhood he never left the realm of spiritual consciousness—never admitted the reality of evil in any form—that he was able to lift others up to his exalted plane of conscious awareness of ever-present perfection. He never worked to heal sick bodies, although better human conditions were always manifested. His primary aim was to stir in those who turned to him for help a quickened sense of the Christ-presence—the beauty of holiness— and to awaken them to realize their oneness with the Father.
The seamless robe of the Christ-healing has no threads of materiality, but is woven with the shining strands of pure, scientific thinking and is luminous with meekness and unselfed love. Throughout all ages, humble seekers after Truth who are willing and ready to lay down a mortal sense of self may touch the hem of this garment and find healing and rest.
"Humility is the stepping-stone to a higher recognition of Deity," Mary Baker Eddy writes (Miscellaneous Writings, p.1), and referring in our textbook to "Mind's infinite ideas," she says (p. 514), "In humility they climb the heights of holiness." In pointing out to its students the necessity for learning the lesson of humility through denying a false sense of selfhood, Christian Science, while pointing out the utter unworthiness of mortal selfhood and its need for effacement, does not leave the individual in a negative state, which has no relation to genuine humility. Rather does Christian Science entirely separate this condemning picture of a "miserable sinner" from man, revealing that it was never a part of his real being.
It is right that one should claim for his true selfhood divine worthiness to reflect infinite spiritual blessedness, dominion, and freedom. The real man is worthy to receive all good. He is worthy to know himself as he really is—the son of God—and to express the unlimited power and perfection that accompany this scientific knowledge. As God's perfect manifestation, nothing is too glorious for one to claim for his spiritual individuality, the very expression of God Himself. Man was created to testify of his divine sonship, to reflect the creative power of Spirit. Humbly and reverently one may claim for man, as reflection, all that God is. Indeed, to be truly humble is to recognize selfhood as inseparable from Deity.
In the immediate present—not at some remote future period—each loyal student of Christian Science, through his meekness, selflessness, and love of the truth of being, may prove his worthiness to be called the son of God, and to reflect the healing power of the Christ, Truth.