I used to be very anxious about talking with others about Christian Science. The root of this anxiety may have been partly nervousness, but there was also a deeper issue: I was holding on to a belief that understanding Christian Science made me different—or even better—than everyone else.
New England artist James F. Gilman, who collaborated with Mary Baker Eddy on the illustrations for her poem Christ and Christmas, writes about this feeling: “… this view of my intuitive perception as being spiritual and superior to the general thought was nothing but a more subtle form of materiality—self-love” (Painting a Poem, p. 159).
I yearned to cast out this “subtle form of materiality” and follow more fully Jesus’ command in the Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
What has been the most help to me in abolishing any sense of self-superiority is working in the Christian Science Reading Room. Talking with visitors about Christian Science and finding them receptive has helped me recognize the universal reach of Truth. It has taken no effort on my part to try to convince anyone of Christian Science theology. Often I’ve seen that bringing a visitor’s attention to the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and encouraging them to sit down and read it, has resulted in the visitor asking to buy it. They’re immediately impressed by the book and see its value.
After many experiences of talking with visitors who quickly grasp the truth of Christian Science, it has become clear to me that everyone has the inherent capacity to understand the Christ. Letting the light of the Christ shine through me has helped to spark the flame in others too.
Everyone has the inherent capacity to understand the Christ.
There was one occasion in particular that showed me how readily a newcomer can be touched and helped by this Science. A visitor who had been regularly coming to our Reading Room to read the Bible didn’t at first show an interest in Christian Science. However, with the loving encouragement of the staff, she started to read issues of the Christian Science Sentinel, the Christian Science Bible Lesson, and parts of Science and Health.
One day when I was working in the Reading Room, I read an editorial in the Sentinel that I found really inspiring. I doubted that it would be accessible to a newcomer, but later that day I saw our regular visitor in deep thought reading that editorial. When I asked her what she thought of it, she exclaimed that it was “so deep and good.” Then she expressed gratitude for being able to visit the Reading Room regularly, saying she didn’t know what her life would have been like had she not been able to come in often and spend quiet time with God.
This was further evidence to me that I should never doubt how understandable and powerful Christian Science is. This visitor was not seeing Christian Science as just another Christian denomination. I am convinced she was seeing it as the truth.
Christian Science isn’t just for a privileged few, but for all humanity.
A testimony in “Fruitage”—the last chapter of Science and Health, which is full of accounts from people who were healed of all sorts of problems just by reading the book—illustrates well the uplifting presence of the Christ that people experience when they learn about Christian Science. The testifier writes that she was a critic of this Science who started attending meetings local Christian Scientists were holding in order to find something she could “laugh at when telling my friends about it.” After her first meeting, she says, “I still thought it all foolishness, but resolved to go to their meetings until I found out all they believed. I continued to go until I began to understand a little of what they knew, not what they believed; and instead of spending my time telling others what a silly thing Christian Science is, I am now trying to find words to tell what a great and wonderful thing it is” (pp. 681–682). Her shift from thinking of Christian Science as a belief system, to realizing it is divine Science that can be understood and proven, transformed her life and healed her of a so-called incurable disease.
The understanding that Christian Science isn’t just for a privileged few, but for all humanity, has been the biggest lesson I’ve learned while working in a Christian Science Reading Room. It has strengthened my practice of Christian Science all around. I’ve realized that the role of a Reading Room worker is to understand and bear joyful witness to all the good that God is doing—leading people to Truth and transforming hearts through Christly love.
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