EACH individual is humanly identified in the eyes of others by his physical appearance. This identification, almost everyone will concede, is more than flesh, blood, and bones. It also includes what he wears; it embraces his neatness, his speech, his attitudes, his expression—perhaps that special twinkle in his eye.
In Christian Science, one learns that true identity is not material; it is wholly spiritual. It consists of divine qualities, such as joy, love, wisdom, understanding, and strength, evidence of which is seen humanly. Each individual is, in the eyes of the infinite, graced with a beauteous and eternal nature, a perpetual spiritual and perfect identity.
In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy declares (p. 477), "Identity is the reflection of Spirit, the reflection in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love." Each idea included in the creation of God, Spirit, has a specific identity. This identity is patterned after the Christly form.
No power except God has any part in the formation or unfoldment of ideas. Neither one's neighbor, relative, nor environment has any hand in the creation or molding of one's true identity or of one's true individuality. God who unfolds creation formed it before it was falsely viewed as a physical presentation. God made man perfect and permanent before mortal mind projected a false view of man made of the dust of the ground. Despite the perverted view of man as a mortal, the perfect man of God's creating has never changed and can never change. He remains forever perfect and spiritual.
It has been customary for humanity to look upon creation as physical and mortal, as coming and going. The thoughts of humanity have been so impregnated with that which it sees with the eyes that it is generally reluctant to raise the curtain which hides man and to see reality beyond the evidence presented to the senses. But in every human consciousness there is a higher sense of being, a latent spiritual sense that enables one to recognize the existence and the identity which are entirely separate from matter. Christian Science aids one in gaining the spiritual recognition of being.
One needs only to turn to the Scriptures to find inspired statements as well as proof of the enduring nature of true identity. The Apostle Paul writing to the church in Corinth declared (II Cor. 4:16), "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." And he continued (5:1), "We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
Clearly Paul was alluding to the true body or spiritual identity of each one as the "House not made with hands." Note how assured he was of the continuity of each one after the false belief of fleshly existence has ceased! Each one of us today can affirm, as did the Apostle, "We have a building of God." Paul did not conceive of growing into a perfect identity in the hereafter, but asserted that we have that true identity now. We have it regardless of false beliefs concerning flesh, age, nationality, or environment.
The putting off of the physical sense of body does not affect the existence of our true body. But the recognition of our true identity, as created and eternally maintained by God, silences mortal beliefs, which affirm material existence to be real, and thus improves the human body. Our Leader declares (Science and Health, p. 425), "Consciousness constructs a better body when faith in matter has been conquered." We should hasten our comprehension of God as the only source of being and abandon our "faith in matter." When this is done, a higher sense of our true identity is demonstrated, for then matter proportionately loses its claim to control the body.
Christ Jesus told the Jews (John 2:19), "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
The Jews replied, "Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?"
"But," John concludes, "he spake of the temple of his body."
And the Master did just as he had told them. He came forth at the resurrection with the same body he had before the crucifixion. Jesus' higher comprehension of man's true identity as the son of God enabled him to come forth from the tomb alive and also enabled him earlier to raise the widow's son at Nain and later Lazarus. He recognized that each individual, as God's reflection, has an eternal, spiritual, indestructible identity.
Mrs. Eddy asserts in "Pulpit and Press" (p. 2), "The real house in which 'we live, and move, and have our being' is Spirit, God, the eternal harmony of infinite Soul." We live in God. Every quality in our real house is good and is included in our individual identity. The beauty of Soul is reflected in the beauty of our individual being. The health of Spirit is ours by reflection. The loveliness of Love is ours to express. The wisdom of Mind is present to give us balance and spiritual vision.
The goodness of God, the truth of Truth, and the grandeur of Spirit are ours to enjoy, and no one and no thing can take such perfection from us. These spiritual qualities are already ours by reflection. They are in consciousness. The Christ is the power of God which gives us our identity. Christ unfolds to us our true nature, and our individual selfhood cannot be lost.
Our temple, our true body or building, is spiritual and perfect. We have it irrespective of mortal claims to the contrary. It is a perfect house modeled after the holy temple of God, the house of God. Paul affirmed (I Cor. 3:17), "The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."