It might seem perfectly logical to say that health resides in one’s physical body—that it’s a kind of personal possession. And that we’re prone to losing or damaging our health if we’re not careful with this possession. It’s like being the owner of a complex machine but not always knowing how to operate or maintain it. There’s a lot of fear and false responsibility tied to this view.
But what if we considered health from a spiritual, metaphysical perspective? What if we see health as permanently established in the very Mind that is God, who conceived us as His spiritual ideas?
I caught a clearer glimpse of these concepts when I was watching a sunset recently. The sky was glowing with bright reds, purples, and golds. Just moments later, I watched all these vivid colors fade away as the sun sank below the horizon. The brilliant hues overhead grew pale, replaced by somber grays and whites. It occurred to me, “The color was never in the clouds or sky. All the color comes from the sun and its rays, the source of light. A sunset’s glory is in reflection.” In that same moment, some health issues I’d been praying about suddenly looked different to me. I realized how inaccurate it was to believe that health resided in my body or anyone else’s. Or that an organ in the body could be in charge of one’s health and well-being. Health is not a personal possession but is pure reflection, emanating from its source, the divine Mind, God.
“Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind; nor can the material senses bear reliable testimony on the subject of health,” Mary Baker Eddy writes in her definitive work on spiritual healing, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 120). From her study of the Scriptures and her vibrant practice of healing, she proved that the one infinite Mind, divine Spirit, holds the perfect concept of each of its ideas. This means that health resides solely in our Maker, God, and is reflected by us and by all creation.
Mrs. Eddy also writes, “This is a leading point in the Science of Soul, that Principle is not in its idea” (p. 467), in the chapter “Recapitulation” in Science and Health, which was once the class-book she used for teaching Christian Science.
For millennia, the traditional teaching of many theologies and philosophies has been that the physical body houses a personal soul. With similar logic, scientists and doctors have looked primarily, if not exclusively, to the body as the container of health. As Science and Health points out, “They examine the lungs, tongue, and pulse to ascertain how much harmony, or health, matter is permitting to matter,—how much pain or pleasure, action or stagnation, one form of matter is allowing another form of matter”(p. 159). As a result of this approach, permanent health has proven elusive. No wonder Christ Jesus based his practice of healing on a purely spiritual approach. He looked away from the physical body to Spirit, God, as the one dependable source of health and well-being.
A sunset’s glory is in reflection.
Think, for a moment, of the New Testament’s extensive record of Jesus’ healing practice. Among the thousands he healed were cases of blindness, deafness, paralysis, leprosy, epilepsy, fever, chronic and acute diseases of all types. His healing work was quick and complete. In fact, it was so immediate, that it could only have been accomplished on a mental basis. His spiritual selfhood, the Christ, gave him a perspective of others that was purely spiritual, beautiful, immune from disease. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Jesus taught (Matthew 5:48, English Standard Version). In other words, see, or recognize, that you have wholeness, because your wholeness is the reflection of God’s wholeness.
Jesus knew the capacity to see was based in Mind, not matter, and so the blind saw. He knew that strength was in Spirit, not muscles and bones, so the lame leaped and walked. He knew life was eternal, forever safe in God, so even those who had died were raised up. His teachings and practice point to a radically new view of health—a spiritually enlightened view—as sourced in Spirit, God, alone, not in the physical body.
Early in my career, I invested a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money in a film project. When the whole venture fell apart unexpectedly, I found my health faltering too. My heart began to beat irregularly, and there was acute pain in my chest.
As a Christian Scientist, I had the instinct to pause and pray about underlying mental factors. From long experience, I had come to see the body as never an independent actor but as a manifestation of thought. In this case, I knew that I wasn’t dealing with a heart problem but with a discouragement problem. The word discouraged literally means “disheartened, to lose heart.” My business failure had left me sad and uncertain about my life purpose, and my body was expressing this uncertainty. But I also knew there was a better way to view my heart and health—as spiritual realities, flowing from God.
One morning, I opened to Mrs. Eddy’s words, “The heart that beats mostly for self is seldom alight with love” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 160). It was like a neon sticky note glowing on the page. Instantly, I understood something important. My heart had been beating for me, for my ambitions, desires, professional interests. My affections and motives needed to shift from self to God. The more I thought and prayed about it, the more I realized that the true function of the heart is to beat for God, to reflect “the great heart of Love,” as Mrs. Eddy characterized God’s infinitely loving nature (see Science and Health, p. 448).
On the heels of this realization came another idea tailored for me, and this was one I didn’t really want to hear at the time: “church.” Even more specific, the message was, “Be willing to devote your talents to church!” I loved Christian Science, but church was sometimes a struggle for me. It didn’t always seem to be in step with progress. Yet, I wasn’t in any position to argue. In humility, I made the commitment to give my heart to God and to be willing to serve church in any way Love directed. Looking back, I see this as my rebirth; God was giving me a new heart, new affections, a new sense of purpose.
Over the next weeks and months and years, I discovered the joy of forgetting self and reflecting God’s love, living a life of selfless service. A lot of personal ego fell away, and I began to feel lighter and freer in every aspect of my life.
I came across this phrase in the Manual of The Mother Church, “God requires our whole heart …” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 44). As I gave God my whole heart, I found that my heart was indeed whole. I felt a fuller sense of life, purpose, and even creativity, than I had ever felt before, and the problem with my heart faded away. I’ve had no issues with this since. I’ve come to understand the true nature of heart as the reflection of the great heart of Love.
What I realize now, more than ever before, is that life and health are never housed in a body or bodily organs. What a limiting proposition that would be! Health is forever based in Spirit, divine Love, and each of us is the flawless reflection of our creator’s wholeness. As Mrs. Eddy writes in her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection: “Man shines by borrowed light. He reflects God as his Mind, and this reflection is substance,—the substance of good. Matter is substance in error, Spirit is substance in Truth” (p. 57).
The divine light never wanes, never sets. Health is the radiant reflection of a radiant God who created you, me, and the universe of His very own indestructible goodness. As Jesus expressed it, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, ESV). True health, then, is the reflected glory of God, and it can’t be lost.
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