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Breaking the ‘fourth wall’ of unbelief

From the June 2019 issue of The Christian Science Journal

In the world of theater, to “break the fourth wall” is to remove the illusion of separation between the audience and the players onstage. A stage set usually has three solid walls, and then an invisible “fourth wall” between the actors and the audience. While this “wall” seems to separate the two groups, there is, of course, no actual barrier keeping them apart. The seeming obstruction is unsubstantial and could be breached at any time.

I started thinking about this recently as I was pondering what it is that at times seems to separate us from the healing outcomes we long for when we pray. “What could be a seeming barrier between oneself and a demonstration of the Christ Science, the laws of God practiced by Christ Jesus? Is a seeming impediment to demonstrating this as permeable as the ‘fourth wall’ of a theater?” I wondered. Would being afraid healing might not be possible be similar to how we’re in the habit of expecting actors and the audience not to interact?

While overcoming whatever resistance to Christian healing we may face is something each individual can take up with God, I think a factor to consider is the unbelief prevalent in society today, which may subtly leach into our thinking. But the good news is that this mental wall can be penetrated as we come to realize that nothing can truly hamper the Christ—the Truth that heals. In substance, therefore, the seeming wall is nonexistent.

In an article titled “Unbelief and Faith,” published in the July 1910 issue of the Journal, William P. McKenzie makes a distinction between unbelief and disbelief. We could say disbelief is total distrust and rejection of a concept. In disbelief, one might argue that the fundamental premise of an idea is flawed. But unbelief is more subtle. As Mr. McKenzie puts it: “The unbelief which stands in the way of spiritual progress is not so much disbelief of the truth which has been presented, as it is the occupation of the mind with beliefs which are contrary to the truth. Since the mind is thus preoccupied, it has no hospitality for the truth.”

The question is, then, What are we being most receptive to: God’s healing truth, or things that would distract us from it? The truth that heals is the understanding that God, Spirit, is All, and nothing can be added to All; there exists only God and the expression of God’s being—i.e., spiritual creation, including spiritual man, the true identity of men, women, and children. “The starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all, and that there is no other might nor Mind,—that God is Love, and therefore He is divine Principle,” Mary Baker Eddy explains in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 275). With this as our guide, we are fit to demonstrate the healing power that Christ Jesus expected of his followers.

Yet I’ve found that we can diligently pray and study to learn more about divine Truth, strive to live a Christly life, and endeavor to put the Science of Christ, or Christian Science, into practice while at the same time not quite 100 percent admitting in our heart of hearts that God, Spirit, alone is All. All. And that nothing unlike God, good, is actually real. Nothing. Admitting Spirit is All means acknowledging that matter is not the substance of creation or existence; that it cannot truly harm or heal us. But unwittingly, it can seem as if we are caught in a web of unbelief, occupied with ideas unlike divine Spirit, conditioned by the steady drumbeat of materialism broadcast by the secular theories of the day.

We read in Science and Health, “The procuring cause and foundation of all sickness is fear, ignorance, or sin” (p. 411). To me a key underlying fear, which presents as discord and disease, is a deep-seated anxiety that God, Spirit, is a lot, most, but maybe not All—that perhaps there is somehow a grain of truth in what the material senses are telling us about there being another presence or power besides Him.

But we can protect ourselves from this deception and recognize and root out any whiff of unbelief, thereby breaking through the substanceless fourth wall that would tell us there is something separating us from a higher demonstration of divine Truth. To do this, it is necessary to acknowledge and understand in some degree the complete, whole, unmitigated, absolute totality of God, Spirit, and the constant ever-presence of Christ, God’s messenger of good to all. As the Apostle Paul said of Christ, “He is our peace, who … hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Ephesians 2:14).

The book of Isaiah records God as telling us directly, “I am the Lord, and there is none else” (45:5). The Bible not only asserts this spiritual fact but provides proof of it again and again through the marvels recorded in both the Old and New Testaments—the most outstanding of which are Christ Jesus’ healings. Jesus never gave drugs or flinched before a disturbing physical condition. Jesus would not have been able to consistently overcome sin, illness, and even death had he wondered if any other force or power than God, good, was truly present and operative.

When we need to shore up our faith in Spirit as All, we can turn to divine Science for a firm footing.

Following in the path Jesus pointed out, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, had the holy revelation that because God, Spirit, is All, there is no substance nor condition other than divine Mind and its creation. Mortal mind—a supposed mentality not from God—can seem a force working against infinite, omnipresent good. But Mrs. Eddy saw through this charade, this counterfeit of the one true Mind. She came to understand that the material senses cannot be trusted as bearers of truth, and that relying on them lures us away from understanding and demonstrating the true nature of reality, of Spirit. To help us defend our thought and advance our understanding and practice of Christian Science, she exhorts us to “insist vehemently on the great fact which covers the whole ground, that God, Spirit, is all, and that there is none beside Him” (Science and Health, p. 421).

In a world saturated with materialistic thinking and acting, it can be difficult, but is not impossible, to acknowledge that God, Spirit, Mind, alone is actual. When we need to shore up our faith in Spirit as All, we can turn to divine Science for a firm footing. After all, divine Science is a Science, so it includes proof; evidence of healing through Christian Science has been documented for more than 125 years. “Science, divine Science, presents the grand and eternal verities of God and man as the divine Mind and that Mind’s idea,” writes Mrs. Eddy in her book No and Yes (p. 27).

I have found that as I strive to better understand these “eternal verities,” I am better able to hold the line against suggestions that there is a creation other than that of God, Spirit. And when I do, I am more successful in my healing endeavors.

One time when a person asked me to pray for him concerning a difficult physical problem he was having, I replied, “Happy to help,” as I normally would when asked to pray for someone. But I will admit that, in this case, for a moment a “fourth wall” of fear and unbelief tried to go up. What if I wasn’t able to see this healing through?

I reminded myself of God’s allness and considered that Truth, God—not I—was the healer. This helped the “wall” feel less solid. I then reached out in prayer to divine Spirit for the inspiration and assurance I needed to be certain this individual, this precious idea of divine Love, was completely whole, well, and safe.

I was inspired to look up this passage from Science and Health: “Fear never stopped being and its action. The blood, heart, lungs, brain, etc., have nothing to do with Life, God. Every function of the real man is governed by the divine Mind.… All that really exists is the divine Mind and its idea, and in this Mind the entire being is found harmonious and eternal. The straight and narrow way is to see and acknowledge this fact, yield to this power, and follow the leadings of truth” (p. 151).

This passage reassured me that fear had no authority over this individual, over me, over anyone. Fear could not be the master of ceremonies. Everything about our true being is governed by divine Mind, God, and therefore is orderly, harmonious, continuous, strong, and free. My job was to mentally yield to this spiritual fact, to acknowledge with every fiber of my being that it is the only reality and that God and the manifestation of His goodness is all that truly exists—all.

Sometimes I have read accounts of healing published in this magazine that describe how the writer, when praying, has felt a profound welling-up of conviction about a particular spiritual truth he or she was affirming. As a result, healing was accomplished. As I prayed with the previously mentioned truths and others, I felt that deep spiritual confirmation of God’s allness. And later the patient reported that all was well; everything was completely normal. 

No seeming “fourth wall” can truly keep us from the ever-active love of God, expressed in harmony and Christ-healing. As Paul put it, “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39).

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