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What is the body, and how can we heal it?

From the February 2022 issue of The Christian Science Journal


During the past couple of years, the vulnerability of the body to disease has been at the forefront of world thought, and the need for more dependable, consistent healing has become clear. The limitations of treating man as an organic machine that can be fixed with drugs or surgery have been very apparent. 

But there is a better way, shown by the unparalleled healing record of Christ Jesus and his earliest followers. Giving particular attention to Jesus’ words and works, Mary Baker Eddy, a dedicated student of the Bible, discovered the spiritual laws of God that allow us to practice his healing method with scientific certainty. She named her discovery Christian Science, and tens of thousands of documented healings resulting from the practice of this Science have been recorded in this and other Christian Science magazines for well over a century. 

To be a student of Christian Science is to always strive to be a better healer. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy instructs the reader, “Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action” (p. 393). But how do we do that? One point that is made throughout Mrs. Eddy’s writings is that we must get a clearer, more accurate understanding of body, in accord with the Bible’s command, “Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:20).

What a glorious starting point! The Bible states that God made man in His image and that everything God made is very good (see Genesis 1). It also tells us that God is Spirit. From this we can infer that man is actually spiritual, not material. How could the image of perfect, infinite Spirit exist in limited, flawed matter? 

To fully understand our true, spiritual being, we must gain a correct sense of what body is, as well as what it is not. With the Bible and the writings of Mrs. Eddy as our guides, we have the tools to do this. 

So, what is body? Well, if God is All and God is Spirit, then all must be Spirit. Yet there is this very solid-seeming thing we call a material body, and matter is obviously not Spirit. So, where there appears to be a material body, in reality infinite Spirit’s self-expression must be present with Spirit as its only substance. In her Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 Mrs. Eddy explains, “Matter is a misstatement of Mind; it is a lie, claiming to talk and disclaim against Truth; . . .” (p. 174). So right where the “misstatement of Mind” that we call a material body appears, the true body is present as a beautiful spiritual idea.

If you put your hand on your arm, you say that your arm feels and looks material. But according to what? It must be to the so-called material senses, not to the true spiritual senses we each have, which perceive what God knows and therefore what is real. In other words, right where the material senses perceive a material hand, arm, leg, and so forth, the divine idea is actually present—always spiritual, eternal, and as perfect as the Mind that created it.

The misconception of body as matter leaves us trying to fix an illusion, rather than seeing through it to the reality. But when we see the concept of body correctly as pure Spirit expressed, the human condition harmonizes with this perfect concept or reality. We call this healing, but revealing is probably a more accurate description.

When Jesus healed a man’s withered hand, for example (see Mark 3:1–5), he was simply revealing the undamaged spiritual idea that had always been present. He was not using a spiritual law to fix a material condition, but was correcting a false or distorted view of the divine idea, the harmony and health of which were then apparent.

When we see the concept of body correctly as pure Spirit expressed, the human condition harmonizes with this perfect concept or reality. 

The false concept of body as material is so widely accepted that it is easy to inadvertently entertain it in place of consciously identifying body as the divine idea it is. We may even be latently afraid of what appears to be our material body. Through a theoretical understanding of Christian Science, we may declare that there is no matter, and yet when the physical body presents evidence of discord, our thought often goes to the medical model of diagnosis. Instead, the remedy lies in diving deeply into the reality of infinite Truth, Spirit.

Forgetting that God, Spirit, is the only cause and effect, we look for a material cause. We might ask ourselves, “What is this? Could it be the latest disease I just saw reported on TV or online?” We often unwittingly entertain fear-based reasoning when our response should be to ask, “Is this of God’s creating?” And if it is not of God, we can immediately recognize that it simply is not real, because God is All and created all. If Spirit did not make it, it has no cause, it is not an effect, and we cannot be tempted to fear it.

We must be alert that our healing practice does not begin with the false foundation of life as matter, by inadvertently seeking to substitute a “spiritual fix” for a material remedy, then applying it to a material condition. Matter is unreal, and Spirit, God, doesn’t need to be fixed. We begin with the present perfection of Spirit as the only remedy and reality. Our work is to know this, not to make it so. Science and Health tells us, “In proportion as matter loses to human sense all entity as man, in that proportion does man become its master” (p. 369).

I have seen the power of holding to this correct viewpoint demonstrated in my own life many times. A few months ago, I suddenly began exhibiting all of the uncomfortable symptoms of pink eye. I called a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me, as it was challenging not to be impressed by the picture. I was praying the entire time, mentally protesting that this could not be any part of my identity as God’s expression, because Spirit could not create or manifest a painful, discordant condition. The situation seemed to get progressively worse for several days, but I felt clear that it was a lie about God and a lie about me. 

One evening as I was brushing my teeth, I caught sight of myself in the mirror. The picture was ugly, inflamed. I vehemently declared, “There is nothing wrong with God, and there is nothing wrong with me. I am God’s perfect reflection right now, and I know it!” I felt a cool sense of peace wash over me, and the burning pain that had been quite aggressive just vanished. The next morning all of the redness was also gone, and the eye has remained completely normal.

For effective healing we must see through the illusion of discord and hold confidently to the truth of infinite harmony, remaining as certain of it as we are that the earth is round and turning, rather than the sun rising and setting. Then we will demonstrate the truths in this statement: “Immortal Mind, governing all, must be acknowledged as supreme in the physical realm, so-called, as well as in the spiritual” (Science and Health, p. 427).

As we persistently, consciously recognize that all substance is Spirit, never matter, it will transform our sense of body, bringing the harmony of spiritual reality into all aspects of our lives, revealing our present inviolate perfection, and allowing us to see others as the divine ideas they are. This is glorifying God in our bodies, which are truly His, and the result is better healing.

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