Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to have met Christ Jesus or to have been able to go to him for healing?
How would we approach this holiest of all men, the Son of God? Tentatively perhaps, not knowing quite what to expect—unsure of what might be required of us by the gospel he was proclaiming. Or we might see ourselves as coming to the Master with a bright sense of hope that not only would our bodies be restored but our thinking and our lives would also be touched by his healing prayer. Still others of us might imagine what unutterable humility we would feel in the presence of his spirituality, what a distance we would sense between our own meager expression of goodness and the sheer radiance of his light and love.
The human heart clearly yearns for the spiritual refreshment it associates with the life of Christ Jesus. Yet such ponderings are something more than mere fantasy to those who are discovering that Christ-healing is possible and natural in our own age.
In a very real sense, you and I can come to Christ—as certainly as did individuals in the first century who came to Jesus. This is so because Christ, Truth, which was exemplified by the Master, is eternal. Referring to the Christ, with which Jesus so closely identified that he could speak of it as the very "I" of his being, the Master said, "Before Abraham was, I am." John 8:58. And at another time he said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matt. 28:20. Christ actually predated the ministry of Jesus, and it is always present to heal and transform lives.
Where do we encounter this healing and saving power of God? Right where we are, in the sanctuary of our consciousness. Christ is present in every human consciousness—whether or not we are responding to its gentling influence.
There is a tendency to try to reduce Christ to a concept, to something we think about and attempt to believe in, when in fact Christ is a vital, living presence to be responded to. It is something quite other— and infinitely greater—than our thoughts about it. It is the life-giving spirit of divine Truth and Love. Jesus didn't activate the Christ or give it life; rather he allowed the Christ to move and empower him. Christ is an animating influence that, when yielded to, moves us to think, speak, and act in ways that show forth the nature of God Himself.
In very simple terms, Christ is God's message to humanity, God's expression of all that He is and of the truth of His creation, man. Christ speaks to us of our Father-Mother God, who is ever-present Love, omnipotent divine Principle, all-encompassing Spirit and Soul. And Christ shows us our real, spiritual selfhood as God's own image, mirroring His immortality, perfection, wholeness, and freedom. As we listen for and imbibe what Christ reveals, our conviction that God is indeed All and that we in fact reflect Him is strengthened. Consequently we begin to perceive that whatever is unlike Him has no legitimate power or rightful existence. We begin actually to feel God's presence with us and to experience something of the dominion over sin and sickness that the gospel promises will accompany a growing commitment to spirituality.
The question of how we are to come to Christ—of what our mental demeanor, so to speak, is to be in order for our prayer to be effective—is an important one in Christian Science healing. It's raised at the very beginning of the chapter "Christian Science Practice" in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science. Here she discusses the story from Luke's Gospel of the Master's encounter with a sinful woman. Mrs. Eddy points out the difference between the attitude of Simon, a Pharisee at whose home Jesus was a guest at the time, and that of the woman. She writes: "Here is suggested a solemn question, a question indicated by one of the needs of this age. Do Christian Scientists seek Truth as Simon sought the Saviour, through material conservatism and for personal homage?...
"On the other hand, do they show their regard for Truth, or Christ, by their genuine repentance, by their broken hearts, expressed by meekness and human affection, as did this woman?" Science and Health, p. 364.
It can be a help for anyone seeking healing to strive earnestly to emulate those qualities expressed by this woman when she came to Jesus. Whether our need is for physical healing or moral regeneration, these qualities ensure our receptivity to Truth.
In a certain sense our most fundamental need is always for moral regeneration. Broadly speaking, we might say that the healing of sickness as well as of sin results from a fuller compliance with the First Commandment. Acknowledging and obeying one God, one Mind, one Spirit, or substance, enables us to put down, with a growing sense of God-given authority, the various phases of the false assumption that we live in and because of matter.
There really does not come a point in human experience at which we can conclude that we've gone beyond the need for self-examination and moral regeneration. We have work to do daily, hourly, to put off the "old man," to put off whatever is unlike our true selfhood. Such elements as impatience, anger, self-will, sensuality, selfish concern and ambition, resentment —not to mention the general mental haziness that comes from a materialistic perspective —these need to be recognized as no part of man in God's image, and destroyed through the power of Christ.
To come to Christ in the quietude of prayer
is to discover that we have actually been with
Christ all along. We are in fact "hid with Christ
in God," as the Bible states.
At any given moment a sincere self-assessment would likely bring any of us to our knees before the light of Christ. The words of a traditional hymn speak aptly of the heart's deepest yearning as it awakens to its need of Christ:
I need Thee every hour;
Stay Thou near by;
Temptations lose their power
When Thou art nigh.
I need Thee, O, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Saviour,
I come to Thee. Christian Science Hymnal, No. 137.
It could almost seem, from a discussion such as this, as though we should continually harbor feelings of remorse for past mistakes, or hold in thought an image of ourselves as hopelessly given over to sin. But this is not the case at all. Christ actually destroys sin and so relieves us of the guilt and anxiety associated with wrong thinking and acting.
There will no doubt be times when we feel saddened and deeply regretful over what appears a great distance between ourselves and the Christliness we know is possible to us as God's child. Yet as we turn more and more consistently to God in prayer, we grow to expect healing and redemption. We become better able to bring our thinking in line with spiritual truth and more confident that we are putting on the "new man" of Christ's revealing.
Coming to Christ could also be seen as coming to ourselves. Perhaps better stated, it could be seen as coming to the recognition of our true, spiritual identity as the sons and daughters of God. Not surprisingly, this process awakens in us a sense of familiarity. We begin to understand that we have always been, in truth, a flawless expression of the one infinitely good God. We intuitively know that we have always had a perfect relationship with the Father and that this relationship, found in our complete and utter likeness to Him, continues forever as the indestructible reality of our being. Couldn't this be what the sinful woman, referred to earlier, sensed about her spiritual individuality and history? Having come to Christ with tears of repentance, she went away forgiven. It seems clear there was healing.
The close association of repentance with Christ-healing was illustrated to me by an experience I had. A friend asked me to pray for her young daughter, who had an eye infection. After I had prayed for the child, it occurred to me to begin reading the chapter "Christian Science Practice" in Science and Health. As I did so, I suddenly saw that the experience of that woman from Luke's Gospel had tremendous relevance to me. I too was coming to Christ for healing, in behalf of this child; and in order to receive it I needed to be meekly at the feet of Christ, willing to yield up anything in my thinking that was not truly Godlike. I needed to strive to reform— to re-form my thinking and my life. Like the woman who approached Jesus, I had to seek "Truth, Christ,... from the summit of devout consecration," as Mrs. Eddy says, "with the oil of gladness and the perfume of gratitude, with tears of repentance and with those hairs all numbered by the Father." Science and Health, p. 367.
All day I strove to maintain this mental watch. Consequently I felt I was putting off materiality and drawing closer to God. That evening the little girl called and said she was well.
This healing served to remind me that we don't have to have years of experience in Christian Science, or be near-perfect people, or have an utterly complete understanding of God in order to be healed or to heal others. Honesty with oneself, sincerity, and a humble willingness to be changed by what we are seeing of spiritual truth are really the forerunners of healing. This is so, whether we are new to the study of Science or are lifelong students, whether we have in our own eyes remained loyal to its teachings or are just beginning to reconsider their value.
Healing often appears quickly when we come to Christ with what might seem almost a sense of abandon and don't try to withhold certain aspects of our lives from the penetrating light of Truth. A wonderful feeling of power and joy accompanies a wholehearted willingness to be changed.
While it is true that God, through His Christ, ultimately requires the sacrifice of all that is material and mortal, it is also true that God gives all that is worth having. As we allow our lives to be touched even in small ways by the light of Christ, we find the spiritual compensation far exceeding any sense of material loss. We even come to the point where we cease to count the cost of spiritual living and to perceive instead the sheer valuelessness of the notion that we have a life and mind separate from God.
To come to Christ in the quietude of prayer is to discover that we have actually been with Christ all along. We are in fact "hid with Christ in God," Col. 3:3. as the Bible states. Sin of any kind has never touched us as God's children. In direct proportion to our yielding to this truth, we are empowered to live it and to cease acting on impulses that God has not sanctioned. We begin to fathom the depths of the Christian term redemption and to experience that redemption in daily life. And this brings healing—both to ourselves and to those asking for our help through prayer.
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath
bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:
therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God,
and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that,
when he shall appear, we shall be like him;
for we shall see him as he is. And every man
that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
I John 3:1-3