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What Jesus knew about matter

From the July 2019 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Popular belief insists that everything that exists, animate or inanimate, is material. It says that everything in the universe is governed by physical laws, from the orbiting of the planets to the health of the body.

But what about Christ Jesus, who consistently demonstrated dominion over material laws and healed contrary to them? What was his view of matter? 

Mary Baker Eddy, who devoted her life to understanding and making plain to humanity the Science of the Christ behind Jesus’ words and works, writes: “Christ Jesus’ sense of matter was the opposite of that which mortals entertain: his nativity was a spiritual and immortal sense of the ideal world. His earthly mission was to translate substance into its original meaning, Mind. He walked upon the waves; he turned the water into wine; he healed the sick and the sinner; he raised the dead, and rolled away the stone from the door of his own tomb. His demonstration of Spirit virtually vanquished matter and its supposed laws” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 74).

What Christ Jesus introduced, practiced, and proved so conclusively to be true was a new paradigm—one based on the allness of Spirit, or Mind. His sense of substance and law as proceeding from Spirit, God, and therefore spiritual and mental, not material, was in accord with the First Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). 

God’s law, being altogether good, like God, is the law of harmony and includes no discord, sin, sickness, or death. This law can be applied to any human need, with healing results. Once we accept the premise that existence is spiritual and mental, the next logical step is to see that whatever the illness or limitation may be, it is nothing but a mental misconception with no more ability to withstand correction than a mistake in math or a false note played on the piano. Knowing that everything we see is a formation of mortal thought is exciting and freeing.

In the 1980s, The New York Times reported some intriguing medical documentation that points to the purely mental nature of existence. Clinical studies noted that patients suffering from multiple personality disorder had different conditions while in different personas. Epilepsy, allergies, and color blindness—as well as rashes, welts, and scars—were seen to appear or disappear abruptly as patients switched from one personality to another (Daniel Goleman, “Probing the enigma of multiple personality,” June 28, 1988).

I knew that an all-loving God could never be so cruel as to make His children out of perishable matter.

To realize the mental nature of things is a forward step, but is it enough to bring healing? Not unless this realization is accompanied by a humble, joyful certainty that God, Mind, is infinite good and produces only health, harmony, and immortality. Yielding to this spiritual truth, regardless of the evidence before the so-called material senses, opens the way to that “secret place of the most High” mentioned in Psalm 91, that fearless place of spiritual understanding that has a healing effect on our consciousness. The result is that our outward circumstances improve perceptibly, since material conditions are simply the objective manifestation of human thought. 

To heal as Jesus taught involves putting off the notion that we have our own separate mind or ego. The spiritual fact, as the Bible states it, is “We have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16). Healing comes naturally as we reject traditional thought models grounded in matter, which include inadequacies and suffering, and accept what the one Mind knows—harmonious activity governed by divine Love. Bringing every thought and action into line with Love becomes the ultimate in healthy living. 

Several years ago my husband and I owned a house with handsome oak flooring that needed refinishing. I set out to do the job myself, by hand, and spent the day on my knees sanding the floor, with hardly a break. I stopped at five o’clock, but a couple of hours later my arms began aching. By midnight the agony was so acute I remember wishing—fleetingly—I could cut them off ! In too much distress to sleep, I got out of bed and settled on the couch to prayerfully ponder what I had been learning from my study of Christian Science. 

I knew that an all-loving God could never be so cruel as to make His children out of perishable matter. So I had divine authority to ditch the mistaken premise that I was an injured, suffering mortal. As the first chapter of the Bible tells us, Spirit created man in Spirit’s own image and likeness and gave man (each one of us) dominion over all the earth. The pervasive view of substance-matter and physical cause and effect is a mistaken view. I considered the allness, or infinity, of Spirit and the great fact that God’s own spiritual likeness must be expressed in health, harmony, peace, and freedom.

The suggestion came that pain would diminish with time, that I just needed to wait it out. But I was having none of that! I reasoned that time is not a healer, since God is already present and governing His creation harmoniously every moment. As God’s spiritual expression, I knew I must be well now. 

I saw more clearly that I was an idea of God, and there’s nothing material about an idea. Therefore I could not be subject to material laws of health, which amount only to a collection of popular beliefs. 

This prayerful reasoning lifted me out of a fearful, mistaken sense of life in matter, into the true consciousness of Life as Spirit. I insisted with conviction that no penalty could come from expressing and glorifying God in constructive activity. 

Soon I felt peaceful and dozed off. A few minutes later I woke totally pain-free. To go from a state of agony to one of normalcy and well-being in such a short time brought tears of gratitude to my eyes. I experienced the joy that accompanies the healing power of Christ, Truth. Elated, I headed back to bed and slept until morning. The healing has remained permanent. 

I’m repeatedly inspired by something in an editorial by Alan A. Aylwin titled “Never quit!” (Christian Science Sentinel, April 10, 1971). He says of a student of Christian Science who was healed of pain: “This student had learned from many previous experiences that all disease is a mental phenomenon superimposed on the body, which itself is a mental phenomenon.” 

Reaching for the higher sense of the nothingness of matter and the allness of Spirit lifts us out of fear and false belief. As our thoughts become more Christlike and we gain in spiritual understanding, we see the world more clearly as God created it—spiritual and mental—and our experience becomes increasingly harmonious.

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