For many years, I’d incorrectly thought of my practice of Christian Science as a kind of “machine” that I could turn on to crank out healings. I believed that if I read enough about Christian Science or prayed hard enough, my problems would be solved. But as time went on, I became weary of this “machine” approach. Oiled with belief rather than understanding, the machine operated inconsistently. And the wheels were worn from all the pushing and pulling of human reasoning.
Needing to readjust my perspective, I was led to reread an article by Mary Baker Eddy called “Principle and Practice” (Christian Science Sentinel, September 1, 1917). This was a game-changer for me. I learned there is a big difference between a spiritual understanding of Christian Science and believing in the power of your own intellectual understanding of Christian Science. Spiritual understanding comes only from the divine impetus of the Christ, not from belief founded on mere human reasoning.
In “Principle and Practice,” Mrs. Eddy explains that a true practice of Christian Science is not “faith-cure,” but that “Christian Science requires understanding instead of belief; it is based on a fixed eternal and divine Principle, wholly apart from mortal conjecture; and it must be understood. Otherwise it cannot be correctly accepted and demonstrated.”
I knew I couldn’t just “grind out another prayer” based on sheer belief (see Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p 10). I needed to be more receptive to the spiritual understanding that God provides. It occurred to me to read the chapter Fruitage in Science and Health, which is filled with testimonies from individuals who were healed while reading Science and Health. These are wonderful examples of healings accomplished not through human reasoning, but through a sincere desire to understand God better. Each testifier’s humility, sincerity, and hopefulness were palpable to me.
It is when we put our trust in God to guide and instruct our hearts, that healing results.
So I read Science and Health again from the beginning, but this time, with each word, I was filled with a desire to know God better. It was as if the pages were painted with a new hue of the simple authority of divine Truth. I read more slowly, thinking through every concept and loving each phrase.
Ideas that I’d taken for granted were redefined with fresh inspiration. For example, in the chapter titled “Prayer,” Mrs. Eddy writes, “The highest prayer is not one of faith merely; it is demonstration” (Science and Health, p. 16). I pondered that sentence for months. I’d thought prayer caused demonstration. But I couldn’t seem to fathom how exactly prayer is demonstration.
That changed one night, about a year ago, when I was at home struggling with acute internal pain in the sides of my chest. I sincerely yearned for the right way to pray for healing. Instead of grinding out another prayer from the standpoint of human belief, I started thinking deeply and affectionately about God. I sought to demonstrate the reasoning that proceeds from, and is the faculty of, divine Mind, God.
In a sense, I was for the first time putting my trust completely in God for healing. I didn’t merely believe that Christian Science heals, but was listening for God to help me fully understand that, as divine Life, He is the source and condition of my very being.
In the middle of this humble prayer, I heard myself say out loud, “I am a demonstration of Life.” I wondered, What does that mean exactly? Then I realized that as God’s reflection, I demonstrate all the qualities of divine Life, including eternal peace. God made me to demonstrate peace, not pain.
My thought began swimming in this notion that my life is the very demonstration of Life. I recognized I’m not a mortal on a roller coaster going from peace to pain, and back to peace again. I am a consistent demonstration, or expression, of peace—always. The pain drifted away and did not return. I felt completely free.
I realized that Christian Science isn’t “activated” through human reasoning, willpower, or belief. It is when we put our trust in God to guide and instruct our hearts, that healing results. It is based firmly on spiritually understanding God and God’s creation. This understanding comes from God’s grace. The writer of the epistle titled Second Timothy beautifully explained this fact when he said that God “… saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (1:9).
We are living God’s purpose and expressing His grace—we are His demonstration. Seeing this with increased clarity doesn’t happen by cranking the gears of an intellectual machine, but it does take sincere commitment and a willingness to take up the work of our holy calling.
Ian Gudger is a Christian Science practitioner in Tacoma, Washington.
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