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Healing and "the universal solvent"

From the December 1997 issue of The Christian Science Journal

There is no universal solvent in chemistry—a substance having the power to dissolve all other substances. But in scientific metaphysics divine Love has the power to dissolve all evil—everything unlike itself. Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health, "In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error,—self-will, self-justification, and self-love,—which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death." Science and Health, p.242.

Why can divine Love dissolve error of every kind? Because Love, a synonym for God, is infinite and omnipotent. In the allness and infinitude of Love there is no opposing power, presence, or substance. Because Love is Life, its suppositional opposites—fear, hatred, envy, cruelty, destructive criticism, selfishness—have no real existence or entity. These errors melt when the omnipresence and omnipotence of Love are realized.

Although divine Love can dissolve evil of every kind, we have work to do—work that requires patience and perseverance. It is to bring "the universal solvent of Love" to bear upon the errors of self-will, self-justification, and self-love. Why is this labor? Because these false mental elements can seem adamant, unyielding.

A number of years ago when I was struggling with a difficult problem in human relations, I turned to the above passage and pondered it prayerfully. The word adamant stood out to me because the trouble seemed unyielding. The dictionary gives a very interesting meaning for adamant: "An imaginary stone of impenetrable hardness ..." I felt much inspired and encouraged. I reasoned that since the adamant of error in my situation was indeed only imaginary, it would have to yield to Truth; it could not resist being dissolved by divine Love. A great deal of patience and persistence in prayer was needed, but ultimately the difficulty that had seemed so adamant did dissolve.

Christ Jesus' instantaneous healings of leprosy, paralysis, insanity, blindness, deafness, and other physical and mental ailments proved that Love is a solvent in whose presence disease must dissolve. Prior to their healings, Jesus' patients must have felt that their afflictions were unyielding.

Physical troubles may sometimes seem adamant to us—stubbornly defiant despite our most earnest, prayerful efforts to heal them. The same might be felt regarding difficult relationships, chronic lack, long-standing resentments and animosities, feelings of loneliness, struggles with sensuality, seemingly unsolvable national and international problems. World opinion says that some problems can't be resolved, that certain diseases are incurable, that various dispositional traits or behavioral tendencies can't be corrected—that they have to be coped with and endured. Conflicts between races, religions, and nations are sometimes written off as unsolvable.

No matter how stubborn a problem, it must ultimately yield; it must be dissolved by the universal solvent of Love.

Remember the Berlin Wall? The thinking of those who built it may have seemed as hard, unyielding, and permanent as the wall itself. Yet this adamant symbol of the cold war was eventually torn down. Not long after the wall came down, a friend sent me a few fragments from it that someone had encased in a bubble of plastic about the size of a small paperweight. I keep it on my desk as a reminder that no matter how stubborn a problem, no matter how long-standing, no matter how impenetrable or unyielding it appears to the material senses, it must ultimately yield; it must be dissolved by the universal solvent of Love. The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, assures us, "No power can withstand divine Love." lbid., p. 224.

But this universal solvent must be applied. And because the errors of self that often underlie a difficulty are adamant in nature, we may need to apply the universal solvent more than once. But each clear recognition of the infiniteness and supremacy of Love, and of the powerlessness of what would oppose it, makes a difference. Each realization of true existence, perfect in every aspect and under God's control, brings healing nearer. As Christ Jesus proved, the power of Love can penetrate and dissolve even the most resistant forms of disease and sin. But we must patiently wait on Love to accomplish its perfect work.

"In patient obedience to a patient God ...." This phrase has helped me many times when I've been tempted to believe I was running out of patience. Man is God's image. How, then, can we lack patience if our God is infinite and He is a patient God?

In what sense is God patient? He is unchanging, unvarying Love. His love is always available to help us, heal us, direct or correct us at any moment or hour. It might be said that God, as divine Principle, patiently awaits our appeal to and application of His laws.

Patience is a vital component in healing. A sick person's fears seem very real and tormenting to him. It requires the reflection of divine Love to cast them out. Any impatience or irritation in the thought of the would-be healer will prevent that individual from being a transparency for perfect Love, which casts out fear.

The sufferer, on the other hand, must cultivate that patience in tribulation that the Apostle Paul refers to in Romans. See Rom. 12:12 . Patience, in its highest sense, isn't passive, resigned-to-suffering attitude but expresses an active, persevering, confident expectancy of good.

When we look into a body of water, we see a clear, undistorted reflection only if the water is still. A calm, undisturbed surface is necessary to produce a perfect reflection. When troubled, anxious, or willful thoughts are replaced by patient, serene confidence in the unfailing, efficacious power of Love, the spiritual idea needed to effect healing unfolds in consciousness.

Although the victory over self-will, self-justification, and self-love requires patience, it is inevitably won as the power of Love, the universal solvent, is understood. However unyielding human errors appear to be, they can't resist what is irresistible.

What's left as the result of this dissolution? Clearer views and manifestations of our real selfhood, our spiritual individuality as the child of God. The Christ, the spiritual idea of Love that is always present in human consciousness, gives us the power to overcome every error that would hide our true selfhood.

The real man, made in God's image, is incapable of error. He doesn't need perfecting. He hasn't fallen from a state of perfection into mental errors of self-will, self-justification, and self-love. He has only the Mind of Christ and is therefore unflawed, not needing correction or regeneration. This truth of our genuine, spiritual selfhood in God's image must be kept continuously as the model before thought as we strive to overcome the errors of material personality that obscure our God-bestowed individuality.

Through his holy humility, Christ Jesus demonstrated the power of Love to dissolve the most stubborn states of mental error.

Perhaps self-will is the error that wars most against spirituality. It underlies all wrongdoing. Every sin or crime, every act that injures, harms, wrongs, or disregards the rights of others is impelled by self-will. Self-will wants its own way, and if unrestrained and undisciplined by God's law, the rule of Love, it stops at nothing until it gets what it wants. Self-will is part and parcel of the belief in a mind apart from God. Blessed is the child who learns from the discipline of wise parents to subdue self-will and yield to the divine will. Adults often learn the need to conquer this error through the discipline imposed by hard experience.

We all have to be willing to lay down our so-called fleshly nature in order to demonstrate our genuine individuality, our spiritual selfhood. This isn't a one-time surrender but a recurring demand. It's often under duress that we relinquish fleshliness to some degree and in so doing gain rich spiritual rewards of peace, joy, and self-control.

Humility is the antipode of self-will. "Humility is the stepping-stone to a higher recognition of Deity," writes Mrs. Eddy. Then she adds, "The mounting sense gathers fresh forms and strange fire from the ashes of dissolving self, and drops the world." Miscellaneous Writings, p. 1. We can rejoice over every ash of dissolving self that diminishes either our pride in or satisfaction with material selfhood and forwards our humble recognition of man's spiritual sonship with God. Through his holy humility, Christ Jesus demonstrated the power of Love to dissolve the most stubborn states of mental error manifested as disease and sin.

Through true humility we find the honesty to recognize self-justification in ourselves. When we're willing to stop making excuses for our mistakes and failings, when we resist the temptation to blame others for them, and are ready to face up to the need for self-correction and humbly ask God to show us how, we're on the road to healing self-justification. We may go through a hard struggle in silencing this error. But divine Love can and will dissolve this impediment to spiritual progress.

The third error in the triad, self-love, implies selfishness, self-absorption, self-centeredness. Its antipode is unselfed love. We keep "the first and great commandment" to love and honor God with all our heart and mind through such pure love. Only through this quality can we obey the second commmandment, which Christ Jesus said is to love our neighbor as ourselves. See Matt. 22:35–40 . Unselfed love alone can fulfill both the law and the gospel.

Why is it so important that we labor to dissolve self-will, self-justification, and self-love? Because this threefold adamant of error "wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death." We need to do battle every day with this triad of "selfs" in order to demonstrate the truth of our sinless, diseaseless, spiritual individuality.

It's always mental states, not conditions of matter, that need dissolving. Christian Science, recognizing that the material body mirrors whatever errors are cherished mentally, deals with the disturbed thought that is projected as disease in the body. As the universal solvent, divine Love dissolves every form of mental error, "bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." II Cor. 10:5. Then physical healing follows.

A young woman I know recently demonstrated the power of Love to dissolve a hardness of heart manifested in a lump on one of her wrists. She knew the importance of being alert to one's state of thought, and writing to me after the healing had taken place, she described how she had approached the problem.

"I have had a wonderful healing. I noticed a lump on the top of my wrist. I felt it was related to my relationship with my husband. I sometimes felt like I was missing out because we didn't share much intimacy. I became rather cold to him and pretended I didn't care. I realized my hardness of heart was no doubt contributing to the hard lump on my wrist. It wasn't like me not to be warm and loving to him. So I prayed to be healed of any bitterness or feeling of lack, and to just love more. I remembered the spiritual definition of Gethsemane in Science and Health: 'Patient woe; the human yielding to the divine; love meeting no response, but still remaining love.' Science and Health, p. 586 .

"The very clear answer to my prayer was unconditional love. As the Father loves me, so I need to love others, including my husband, without expecting anything in return. I needed to give more of that unconditional, Christlike love even if I wasn't getting what I thought I should from our relationship. That turned it around for me so that I felt free to be my genuine, loving self to my husband. It wasn't long after I let go of my hard feelings for him that I realized the lump had totally disappeared."

It's deeply comforting to know that through the understanding of God as Love, humanity has available to it universal solvent that will dissolve all forms of mental error and their manifestations—physical discords, strained or broken relationships, dissension, animosity, enmity. Let us patiently, obediently labor on in applying this solvent to meet not only our own needs but those of others in our families, churches, communities, and in the world.

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