There are two good reasons for freedom-lovers to celebrate July 4 annually.
First, the US Declaration of Independence—published in 1776—set in motion a course of events greatly beneficial to our global concept of freedom. It birthed a nation that set the example of enshrining into a Bill of Rights religious freedom, freedom of speech, press freedom, and the right to peaceably assemble.
Fast-forward exactly 100 years, to July 4, 1876. A revolutionary religious leader in the US and six of her students launched an organization committed to forwarding two other practical aspects of liberty—freedom from sickness and freedom from the attitudes and actions that stifle our sense of God, which we call sin.
These are down-to-earth needs, but the means for securing them avowed by this group—the first Christian Scientist Association—was anything but mundane. Based squarely on Jesus’ teachings and example, they were proving the Science of Christ, the true idea of our spiritual consciousness as expressions of the divine Mind, God, which Christ Jesus’ healings had evidenced so effectively.
From these small beginnings grew a church “designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing” (Manual of The Mother Church, p. 17). By the end of 1894, the intentions of that group—led by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science—were being realized in a global movement that was attracting media attention. Reporting on the opening of a Boston church edifice, which Mrs. Eddy described as “our prayer in stone” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 141), the Daily Inter-Ocean of Chicago captured the essence of the movement’s success: “I was told that almost the entire congregation was composed of persons who had either been themselves, or had seen members of their own families, healed by Christian Science treatment” (Pulpit and Press, pp. 29–30).
While such practical results were deeply cherished, the understanding and experience of God’s love that brought healing about was the enduring takeaway. As the Montreal Daily Herald noted following the same church opening, “Christian Science, or the Principle of divine healing, is one of those movements which seek to give expression to a higher spirituality” (Pulpit and Press, p. 67).
This “higher” spirituality wasn’t a more esoteric or mystical approach to faith, nor was it the preserve of scholars with a rarefied knowledge of sacred texts. It was, and is, a fresh expression of the vibrant spirituality familiar to early Christians, whose understanding resulted in spiritual restoration from physical and mental ills and guided them out of life’s moral missteps. Their spiritual understanding was gained from the words they’d heard Jesus speak and by witnessing the cures he accomplished. What Mary Baker Eddy’s writings bring to light—particularly her primary text, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures—is the divine Science inherent in Jesus’ words and works, and discernible throughout the Scriptures.
This practical, provable Science shows that the spirituality Jesus exemplified is our divine nature as God’s children. Beyond the “higher spirituality” noted by the journalist, the pinnacle of spirituality is the pure, spiritual consciousness that emanates from divine Spirit, God, where the true nature of God’s creation is revealed and healing naturally follows.
So when we have a need, or feel compassion for others’ needs, we can attain this spiritual consciousness through prayer. Such prayer begins with the perception that Divinity’s perfect harmony and our real being as God’s spiritual expression are already present, right where a problem appears to be. On this basis, our prayers can refute what the Bible calls the carnal mind—the persistent but flawed perception that we’re material entities continually missing the mark of harmony and wholesomeness.
Freedom comes as we steadfastly resist that aspersion and stand for what God knows, namely that missing the mark of goodness is never truly going on. We find ourselves deeply accepting, even feeling, that we are God’s offspring, in whom no faulty, finite state of consciousness or being exists. In this communing, we rise to the recognition that the imperfections we seem to need to be freed from aren’t truly substantial, because in infinite Mind, where we truly live, there’s nothing finite or material to limit or ensnare us.
Clearly, we’re not always conscious of that reality. Indeed, we can find ourselves reluctant to admit the spiritual perception of matter’s falsity in contrast to Spirit’s reality. But healing happens as our human sense of being gives place to the divine sense of our lives, forever free of material constraints.
Even a glimpse of this higher, spiritual view is a precious experience, but its blessings don’t end there. It also heals, as a recent testimony in our sister publication, the Christian Science Sentinel, illustrates. After studying and praying while struggling with stiffness and pain for several weeks, the testifier eventually found himself pondering a particular passage in Science and Health: “Spiritual living and blessedness are the only evidences, by which we can recognize true existence and feel the unspeakable peace which comes from an all-absorbing spiritual love” (p. 264).
He wrote: “What I glimpsed is not easy to put into words, but it was like a flash of sunlight breaking through a cloudy and rain-pelting sky. I felt total peace, harmony, and a wonderful stillness. It just came to me. I did nothing. It was not as if I felt peaceful humanly. It was much more—a direct insight so vivid, so real, that I couldn’t deny it” (Peter Sisson, “No more hip trouble,” January 28, 2019). In the presence of that higher consciousness, the pain and stiffness disappeared.
Such individual glimpses of Spirit’s reality bring the fullest sense of liberty, which is so needed today. By proving a freedom that is true for all humanity, they continue the work started by that small group of forward thinkers in New England nearly 150 years ago. This higher spirituality, this spiritual freedom that encompasses the whole of our lives, is always here for all to seek and find.
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