To become new—how promising this sounds, how refreshing, how healing. This promise of newness must have been exciting and intimidating at the same time for Nicodemus, a theological teacher who approached Jesus one evening to discuss matters of spiritual importance, matters of theological weight.
Jesus explains to Nicodemus what it takes to understand life as it truly is—life in Spirit—and to Nicodemus’ utter puzzlement, he introduces the concept of a completely new birth: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5–8).
This play on words with “Spirit” and “wind” makes sense in the original Greek: Pneuma is the word used for both “Spirit” and “wind.” The teaching and healing work of Christ Jesus brought to light the reality of life in and of Spirit. Spirit, not matter, being substance; Spirit, not material history, defining man; Spirit, not material force, being true power; Spirit, not human personality, being Love. And the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, builds entirely on Christ Jesus’ definition of Life as Spirit. It is a book that is so revolutionary and innovative that people have been either rejecting it altogether or soaking it up like a sponge and incorporating its ideas into their daily lives in the most fundamental way.
Science and Health challenges every material concept generally accepted as real. It points to timeless spiritual truths in the Bible and shows us how to put them into practice. The last 100 pages contain reports of healing that illustrate the healing power of Christian Science that individuals have experienced when reading this book. Every single report testifies to the newness of Life as Spirit. Actually new, not just patched up. I go back to those pages often to learn more about progress and healing, and about the book itself.
As we leave the old for the new and are “born again” of Spirit, we begin to experience this newness of life in our lives.
One of my favorite reports of healing is by someone with an extraordinary sense of humility and with the wonderful ability to write in such a poetic way that it reaches the heart. It is difficult to forget this report once you read it. A man describes his search for healing of a number of severe physical and mental challenges. His search leads him to move and to look into a variety of philosophical and religious systems. One day he attends a Wednesday testimony meeting in a Christian Science church in New York City, and he soon procures a copy of the Christian Science textbook. He carefully studies the book and finishes reading within four days. And then, as he tells it: “I was still in the dark. I laid the book down, involuntarily closed my eyes, and silently prayed to God.
“I remained in that attitude a few moments, when I felt like the mariner who had been tossed for days upon a boisterous sea, the clouds bending low, the billows rolling high, all nature wrapped in darkness; in his despair he kneels and commits his soul to God, when he suddenly beholds the North Star breaking through the clouds, enabling him to guide his ship to the shores of safety. Many things were made plain to me. I saw that there is one Fatherhood of God and one brotherhood of man; that though ‘once I was blind, now I see;’ that there was no more pain, nor aches, no fear, nor indigestion. I slept that night like a babe and awoke next morning refreshed. There are now no traces whatever of my former complaint and I feel like a new being. —L. P., New York, N. Y.” (p. 622).
From this moving report we can see that there is every reason to welcome the new and spiritual into our experience. Welcoming the new-old idea that Spirit, not matter, is the only substance and reality—as a mariner would welcome the North Star when he finally beholds it breaking through the clouds—brings to our waiting thought a perception of Life as unlimited and infinite. And healing accompanies this acceptance of spiritual reality.
This testimony also illustrates that “new” is really new, which means it’s not old, renovated, or refurbished. As we leave the old for the new and are “born again” of Spirit, we begin to experience this newness of life in our lives. We leave behind definitions of life that are simply refurbished and can never become new because of their origin in human imagination rather than in divine revelation. Christ, the spiritual idea of God, is present today, replacing the old story of material life with the truth of our real life in Spirit, whole and free. Life as God’s spiritual image is the only life we could ever truly have.
Newness is indeed what many individuals have described experiencing in their lives through the understanding of Christ and Christian Science, revealing to them the reality of life in Spirit—Spirit being the source, law, and sustaining power of man’s life. In Ephesians Paul describes spiritual revelation dawning in human understanding as a process of something new replacing the old. He urges, “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (4:23, 24). And, explaining what she experienced through her discovery of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Retrospection and Introspection: “The divine hand led me into a new world of light and Life, a fresh universe—old to God, but new to His ‘little one’ ” (pp. 27–28).
In this new world of spiritual light, the health and immortality of man are intact. In proportion as our spiritual understanding grows, we experience this health and immortality naturally. The Christ is as present today as it was with Nicodemus and the dear man from New York. The Christ reveals life as the individual expression of Spirit, God, and this revelation feels most often like an introduction of something entirely new. It replaces the old story with our real life, whole and free, bringing this spiritual reality and newness into our human experience.
Our greatest asset is the spiritual understanding that leads our thought to these truths. Science and Health states on page 300: “So far as the scientific statement as to man is understood, it can be proved and will bring to light the true reflection of God—the real man, or the new man (as St. Paul has it).” Our spiritual being is indeed our eternal newness.