What the Church of Christ, Scientist, has to offer the world for all its ills is an understanding of the Christ, “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). It offers the way of Spirit, the Science of pure Christianity. Everything offered to the world by the Church of Christ, Scientist—including its services, publications, Reading Rooms, lectures, and healing ministry—is designed to bring out the immortal truth that spiritual man is the son of the living God, and not a limited mortal.
The early Christian Church had its roots in this truth. Jesus built his church on Peter’s great recognition that the spiritual idea, or Christ, as perfect manhood, is the Son of God. Peter saw the spiritual idea incarnate in the life of his Master. He saw how Christ Jesus’ demonstrated godliness freed men’s bodies from deeply held convictions of the reality of matter, as when Jesus healed the sick, purified sinners, and raised the dead. Hence Peter could say, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then told Peter that he would establish his church on the “rock,” the spiritual idea that is man’s real identity and nature, upon which Peter’s statement was based, and not on the personality of Peter. “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (see Matthew 16:13–20).
The opportunity available to every one of us is to practice Jesus’ religion, by building our life on the “rock,” the recognition of the healing and saving Christ, to demonstrate our true selfhood as God’s “perfect man,” which the Bible says is “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). As we express the character of Christ in increasing measure, seen in the God-blessed qualities of Christly hope, meekness, compassion, and wisdom and in a resultant diminishing of material mindedness, the world will more and more see the difference that Christliness brings to one’s life—healing individual difficulties as well as the complex issues associated with the world at large.
We give evidence of a demonstrated Christliness by being a reliable friend, a good co-worker, a loving spouse, a law-abiding citizen, and especially by being a Christly healer, showing that our consciousness is animated by Truth, Life, and Love. This spiritual animus and power must be expressed in our lives and in our Church, in order to show mankind that the Comforter Jesus promised, the divine Science that heals and saves, is here.
Throughout the centuries there have always been individuals and organized groups that wanted to help mortal man. They have been inspired by a God-given desire to see the end of human suffering, the end of wars, the end of hopelessness. We can be grateful for the love that prompts people to help each other. But not even the most selfless human efforts have fully dealt with the causes of the world’s woes, because they have not destroyed the underlying mental cause—the belief that God’s creation is physical, incomplete, and perishable. Such deep-seated mortal beliefs cannot be eradicated by mortal measures that evaluate matter as real.
Each of us is able to hear a sermon tailor-made to meet our particular needs.
Since materiality expresses solely a conception that is off base, not centered on God, it must be dealt with through spirituality. The growth of spiritual sense within each of us—the actual demonstration of spiritual manhood, the Christ ideal—diminishes materialistic beliefs and will ultimately bring an end to materialism. That’s the only way the hearts of humanity can truly be freed from mental enslavement and moral progress can gain momentum worldwide. The famous preacher Phillips Brooks caught a glimpse of what surely meets mankind’s needs when he wrote concerning the birth of Christ Jesus, “The hopes and fears of all the years / Are met in thee tonight” (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 222).
Christian Science, the Science of Christ—the Science of perfect man—stands firm against the materialism of the age. It shows us how we can overcome the hardships associated with mortal man by practicing the spirituality associated with God’s man. Its teachings preach a radical monotheism that acknowledges only one God, one Spirit, and His offspring, spiritual man, to the exclusion of any lesser material god or mortal man. It appeals to all those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness—for the Mind of Christ. This has always been the purpose of the Church of Christ, Scientist, since it was organized. At its first Annual Meeting in the new Extension of The Mother Church in 1906, the outgoing president, William McKenzie, stated that Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science, “desired for years to have her church able to give more adequate reception to those who hunger and thirst after practical righteousness; …” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 40).
The Christ-hungry—those who are hungering and thirsting for a practical understanding of man’s sonship with God—are tired of materialism. They no longer want to be terrorized by or infatuated with materialistic thoughts. They long to be freed from the fetters of fear, doubt, and hopelessness. They seek to awaken from the nightmarish dream of separation from God, good. They want to throw off what Mrs. Eddy rightly describes in the Christian Science textbook as “the poverty of mortal existence” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 501). They are sick of suffering by and for their sins. They are ready to let go of the mortal concept of man, which has not served them well. And so we must watch that our Church feeds the Christ-hungry with the pure truths of God and spiritual man, which alone will save mankind from destructive materialism. “Maintain Thy church / To Thy service true,” Hymn No. 113 states (translated by Leon Tourian, Hymnal).
Mrs. Eddy made sure that her church would always preach the truth of spiritual man, the Christ ideal, as the only solution to the challenges of materialism, as expected by the master Christian, Christ Jesus, when he established his church on the rock of Christ. Finding that the line between the real and the unreal, between divine revelation and human misinterpretation, was not always clearly drawn in personal sermons, Mrs. Eddy abolished personal preaching and ordained the Bible and Science and Health as the “dual and impersonal pastor” of her church (see Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. 313–314, 322), which would feed the Christ-hungry with the unadulterated truths of perfect God and perfect man.
This Pastor is fully capable of meeting the needs of every individual member of the congregation, because our Pastor’s Lesson-Sermon (consisting of passages from the Bible and Science and Health) is addressed to each individual’s fears and concerns. Each of us is able to hear a sermon tailor-made to meet our particular needs. Each listener is required to do his own thinking, and no one else does it for him. He is not influenced by human opinions. Our “dual and impersonal pastor” opens the individual’s thought to spiritual truth, and this is how the Pastor attends to the flock’s needs.
The weekly Lesson-Sermon teaches in great depth the spiritual nature of man, and we also see the counterfeit concept of man—mortal man—being dismantled in the sermon of the Pastor. The physical self is shown to be an illusion within a finite sense of being. It represents merely an unspiritualized state of mind. This false mentality that depicts man as suffering, lonely, addicted, or emotionally fragile is denied. We are instructed to put off the mortal concepts of man by persistently practicing spiritual mindedness, manifesting Godlike qualities such as mercy, purity, and honesty. The dual Pastor with its Life-giving tenderness, powerful Truth and Love, teaches us that we cannot lose our true God-created spiritual selfhood or the innocence that characterizes it.
Our Leader states, as quoted earlier in part: “Your dual and impersonal pastor, the Bible, and ‘Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,’ is with you; and the Life these give, the Truth they illustrate, the Love they demonstrate, is the great Shepherd that feedeth my flock, and leadeth them ‘beside the still waters’ ” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 322).
The Sunday services conclude with “the scientific statement of being,” which declares with profound simplicity that “… man is not material; he is spiritual” (Science and Health, p. 468). And the correlative passage in First John states, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God” (3:2), reiterating in biblical terms the definition of our real identity as children of our heavenly Father. And what caps it all is the benediction, which in various ways indicates in the words of Scripture that God’s child is blessed. We can hold to the spiritual fact that man has never been material; he has never been expelled from harmony or been separated from his Maker, nor was he ever cursed with the burden of mortality. He is God’s child and is, as was said of Christ Jesus, “the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). Man’s immortal selfhood is and always will be blessed and under God’s care.
In each service we are shown who we are in Science, and we can expect the progressive spiritual transformation of our consciousness to result in healing. In the reality of man’s harmony and existence in God, in whom “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28), we find refuge from the fleshly sense of life in matter, in which inheres all trouble. With this understanding, you and I can leave the church service with a clearer heart than when we entered.
Little by little, the Christ-hungry partake of the immortal truths that provide the way of escape from the disintegrating material life-processes, and they are helped on their way heavenward. May we never forget that they are seeking Truth because they have not been nourished by theories that present man as a sinner, separated from God, who is to be either saved or condemned. May those who hunger and thirst for righteousness find in our churches that which fills their spiritual void.
In each service we are shown who we are in Science, and we can expect the progressive spiritual transformation of our consciousness to result in healing.
How important to be mindful at all times of the divine command, “Mark the perfect man” (Psalms 37:37). Holding the Christly selfhood of man, his goodness and his purity, devotedly in our consciousness, we abandon—thought by thought and deed by deed—the material conceptions of ourselves; and we are spiritually reborn. This enables us to do the healing works required by our Master. The Christly consciousness is the healing consciousness. It was this spiritual understanding that Peter shared when he spoke to a lame man who had asked him for alms at the Temple gate called Beautiful. “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name [in the nature and power] of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). And the man did just that, healed and whole.
“Such as I have give I thee.” And what did Peter have? He had an understanding of the Christ-idea, revealing man to be existent in God and eternally cared for by God. Peter did not deny his own Christliness. He acknowledged the Christ, the divine ideal, as the only saving and curative power. He knew to be true for himself what his fellow apostle Paul declared was true for everyone: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The Christ expressed in us, the divine Mind’s idea reflected in our thoughts and lives, is sufficient to meet all human needs, giving us power over every adverse circumstance. That’s what his Master, Christ Jesus, had taught Peter, and that’s what Peter now successfully practiced.
And so today Christian Science, the Science of Christ, speaks compassionately to the needy, the sick, the handicapped, the sinful, the hopeless, the terrified, the fearful. It says to all those begging alms at the temple of matter: “Silver and gold I have not; but what I do have, I give to you.”
What the Science of Christ has to give provides the only actual relief, the only permanent cure for all diseases and sins and fears. It is the light of divine revelation, showing the true nature of man, spiritual and perfect and forever at one with God in accordance with the Master’s teaching: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Therefore, in the name and nature of this one and only spiritually effective method ever taught—the method employed by Jesus of Nazareth—Science says to the sufferer: “Rise up and walk away from material mindedness, which alone has bound you!”
Christ-healing has a profound effect on the world that can touch many people. Not long ago, my wife and I were at Logan Airport in Boston. We were going through customs after returning from overseas. The customs official took his time questioning us. He even asked me how I made my living. I replied that I am a Christian Science practitioner. The customs man said: “My aunt was a Christian Scientist. She healed my father of a heart attack. My aunt came over that night and prayed, and the next day Dad was back at work.”
What the world needs most is the evidence of that authority and stature “of the fulness of Christ” with which that aunt spoke, with which Peter spoke, and with which Christian Science, the Science of Christ, speaks today. What Peter had, and what you and I must have more of, is this “Christ-fullness,” offering the world a better view of God and man. So you and I must not deny our own Christliness. We want to be more and more conscious of our true, Christly selfhood, or “Christ in you.” We want to continually cultivate this Christliness. The ever-multiplying Christlike thoughts of purity and goodness, which dwell in our hearts, constitute the real essence and substance of the Church of Christ, Scientist.
As the members of Mrs. Eddy’s Church advance in their understanding and demonstration of their identity in Christ, they will more and more utilize their God-given spiritual sense and rally wholeheartedly to the demonstration of the truth of man’s being. Nothing less will support their Leader’s Church, whose mission is to teach and prove the ultimate truth of God and man, for the benefit of all humanity. Truly of such workers it can be said: “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). They demonstrate Christ, the spiritual idea of man’s sonship with God, as the only remedy for all the ills associated with a troubled world.