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Praying in support of health care

From the April 2014 issue of The Christian Science Journal

According to the Gospels, Jesus taught that the understanding of God and His creation has a joyous, uplifting impact on people’s health. He healed many people and taught his disciples to do the same. The fact that spiritual healing was central to Jesus’ ministry has implications for people around the world.

Today, as in Jesus’ time, people everywhere are looking for better health in a variety of ways. In most of the developed world, publicly funded health-care systems cover conventional, allopathic medicine and some alternative approaches to healing, while people spend billions of dollars out of pocket on other forms of treatment that are not usually covered, such as reiki or acupuncture. Even in the developing world, where publicly funded health-care systems generally do not exist, people are increasingly turning to conventional Western medicine, too, though it is often financially out of reach.

Where does Christian Science healing fit into this? Is this method of spiritual healing, based on the Bible’s teachings about health, which has been documented in this magazine and her sister publications since the late 19th century, destined to occupy but a small niche among the various approaches to healing? Or might Christian Science actually help leaven health-care practices around the world?

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote: “There are various methods of treating disease, which are not included in the commonly accepted systems; but there is only one which should be presented to the whole world, and that is the Christian Science which Jesus preached and practised and left to us as his rich legacy” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 344). Students of Christian Science can learn to practice Christian healing effectively, and share this healing with the world.

They can also pray specifically in support of humanity’s search for better health, as represented by all the various health-care systems in place today. My own home country of Canada adopted such a system some decades ago. And, in an effort to be consistent with Mary Baker Eddy’s conviction that Christian Science would leaven science, theology, and medicine (see Science and Health, pp. 107–164), I pray in support of the evolution of that system to be more effective—based more on eternal Truth, and less on constantly changing material theories about health.

In truth, health is not a quality of matter that a human government or health insurance policy can provide. Rather, health shines as a quality of Spirit, God.

The Canadian health-care system has five basic aspects to it, each of which can be understood in a spiritual light. These five aspects of health care can be seen as expressions of how God cares for man spiritually. This can form a foundation for prayer. Here is how I have been praying in support of the leavening of each of these five different aspects of health care:

1) Public administration

Human government, which has instituted all publicly funded health-care systems, is comprised of a set of individuals and institutions. But beyond a debate about the proper role of human government, we can recognize that the government of Spirit, God, is supreme, eternal, unchanging, and infinite in its authority and legitimacy.

Everything in the universe of Spirit, God, reflects Spirit’s supremacy, is invariably governed by its laws, and functions harmoniously. And because this government fills all space and embraces and maintains the spiritual universe—all individuals and ideas—you might say that nothing could truly be more “public.”

In truth, health is not a quality of matter that a human government or health insurance policy can provide. Rather, health shines as a quality of Spirit, God. Health and wellness are attributes of God, the divine Being, that we all reflect infinitely and equally. An understanding of this truth enables us to prove that God governs all aspects of our lives, including our health.

2) Comprehensiveness

Most health-care systems have built into them the concept that health means properly functioning matter, and most health insurance plans cover an array of problems related to improperly functioning or disorderly matter. But the Bible gives a much broader concept of health, embracing, for example, humility, spirituality, obedience to God, faithfulness, peacefulness, abundance, loving oneself and others, and wellness (see, for example, Psalms 103:2, 3: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases”). This shows that the comprehensive health that God provides is not static, even stable, matter—matter being the opposite of God, Spirit. Rather, what constitutes true health is the regular, constant stream of spiritual ideas and inspirations that we receive from God in prayer.

We can receive these inspirations when we systematically put aside materialism, impurity, and selfishness, and clothe ourselves in purity, love, goodness, and compassion. Honoring and acting on thoughts from God, divine Mind, we demonstrate God’s comprehensive care for every aspect of our lives.

God is giving health to everyone universally right at this moment, and everyone has a relationship of oneness with this unchanging source of health.

3) Universality

When God announced to Moses His name as “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14), it was a revolutionary concept of God that embraced everyone. Even today many believe that if God exists, He’s a person or entity somewhere who might respond to our prayers if we’re in a tight spot, but who for the most part leaves us on our own. In contrast, the idea that God is Being itself, one infinite entity called Spirit, and that everything exists only as the expression of this perfect Being, is a radical concept.

In truth, though, this one infinite, universal Being, God, stands as the only reliable basis of wholeness, wellness, and soundness for everyone. God is giving health to everyone universally right at this moment, and everyone has a relationship of oneness with this unchanging source of health. Everyone has the opportunity to turn to this one infinite source of good and find healing by aligning their thoughts with God’s perfection. In so doing, they can help show forth a higher standard of health and well-being for all.

4) Portability

God’s love for each one of us is something that we take with us wherever we go. In fact, no matter where you go physically, you’ll always be cared for by God. In Psalms we read: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (139:7–10).

I remember when I traveled outside of Canada and the United States for the first time—in Peru. I didn’t speak much Spanish, knew no one in the country, and was traveling alone. I became sick with severe stomach pains. I prayed earnestly about the condition, and I remember feeling in absolute awe just a day or two later when I was completely well. I was in a place that was entirely unknown to me, but God and His care were “portable”—present with me far from home.

5) Accessibility

No one is separated from, or lacks access to, God and to the wholeness that He confers upon each one of us. Indeed, one of the great messages of the New Testament is that we all have access to God and to His infinite grace through the teachings of Christ Jesus. Science and Health shows that, by striving to follow Jesus’ example, we can “access”—be aware of—our present oneness with God. Thus we all have the possibility now of enjoying the harmony and health that are ours as children of God.

To conclude, when countries have a national health-care system in place, there may be a temptation to think that that system is the source or the guardian of its citizens’ health. But Christian Science helps us see that the one source of all good, all health, is God. Seeing this not only helps us heal ourselves and others, but it will inevitably leaven human health care.

As the divine is increasingly brought to bear on human experience, this divine standard of health assurance and insurance, as described in the spiritual definition of Japhet (one of Noah’s sons) in Science and Health, will be recognized and enjoyed universally: “A type of spiritual peace, flowing from the understanding that God is the divine Principle of all existence, and that man is His idea, the child of His care” (p. 589).

Lyle Young serves as a Christian Science practitioner and teacher, member of the Christian Science Board of Directors, and also Clerk of The Mother Church.

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