Truth that never fails
Years ago, my Uncle Frank talked about his time of service as an aviator at the Thule Air Base in Greenland. He spoke of the “pea-soup” fog that permeated the area during many days. At those times, he could barely see the runway during takeoff, and didn’t see it again until just before landing. I asked him how it was possible to navigate in those conditions. He said that in the fog, perceptions became confused. It was hard to tell if you were flying upside down, headed up or down, or making other accurate judgments. He also said something I have thought of many times over the years: “You have to trust your instruments.”
Unlike Uncle Frank in his planes, I didn’t feel I had instruments to direct my course in life, especially involving what actions to take or which direction to pursue. It certainly seemed confusing at times. I relied on input from others I trusted, or from my own reasoning or common sense. But when I was introduced to Christian Science, I started learning about a spiritual form of navigating or finding my way in what, some of the time, seemed like the maze of human life.
I read in the Bible where Jesus said, speaking to his apostle Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6 ). This helped me see that seeking the truth of God and man through the testimony of the material senses doesn’t work; we need to follow Christ, Truth, with our spiritual sense. And I read another of Jesus’ statements along those lines: “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14 ).
Jesus’ teachings caution us to avoid accepting material perceptions as truth or reality. His ministry demonstrated that he was showing us the way to know God as Spirit, our relationship to Him as His spiritual ideas, and how He guides us. The instruments my uncle relied on were electromechanical devices, which sometimes did fail for a variety of reasons. The spiritual sense that guided Jesus and showed him the truth never failed.
An understanding of our true, spiritual identity is key. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy responds to the question, “What is man?” in part as follows: “Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness” (p. 475 ). Later in that paragraph, she tells us that man is “that which possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of his own, but reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker.”
Man is perfect, as God is.
To understand, demonstrate, and live in accord with the truth of our spiritual identity, is to stay on the safe, harmonious path. Moses and Christ Jesus gave us important navigational guideposts for living and thinking in a way that’s in accord with our true spiritual being. These are the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:3–17 ) and the Beatitudes (see Matthew 5:3–12 ). Adhering to these spiritual guides enables us to realize and demonstrate our relationship to God as His image and likeness, or reflection, in practical ways that bring health and healing into our experience. Let me share here just a sample of what I’ve been learning from a few of these guides.
For example, the Ninth Commandment is a prohibition against bearing false witness against our neighbor. Spiritually, that means seeing the truth about our neighbor—seeing him in the same way that God does. Mrs. Eddy’s explanation of man quoted earlier is the way God knows each of us. Man is perfect, as God is. As we apply this spiritual fact in refusing to accept that our neighbor can be anything but God’s spiritual, whole reflection, we understand more deeply the fullness of our relationship to God, and this brings greater harmony into our relationship with others.
The fourth beatitude promises, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Moment by moment striving to think and act rightly—in accord with the spiritual goodness that characterizes us as perfect children of God—enables us to better understand and demonstrate that perfection. And the book of James in the Bible says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (1:22 ). Being “doers of the word”—for instance, obeying the Ten Commandments and living what the Beatitudes teach—brings into our thought and experience the immeasurably precious truth of our oneness with God, good.
I had an occasion last summer to experience this. It involved a car ride my wife and I were taking along a spectacular seascape in Maine. We had just left a cove after having lunch and were driving on a narrow two-lane road. Suddenly, I felt very ill, and it seemed that I was about to lose consciousness.
I pulled off the road, and immediately prayed to recognize that man, as God’s reflection, cannot become ill; illness was only a suggestion, a false perception of the human mind, but certainly not a truth. Accepting the suggestion of sickness as real would be like flying in a fog, judging according to the distorted appearance of things. I absolutely knew that this was the direct opposite of what is real, of what God knows about His children, including me.
I thought of the First Commandment, which talks about not having another god apart from God—divine Mind. I knew from many prior healing experiences that obeying this commandment, affirming my relationship to the only God, would silence the suggestion of a power or intelligence apart from God and bring healing. As I considered the divine fact that God is the only power, I felt calm and embraced in the atmosphere of God’s protecting love. I knew the suggestion that I could be separated from God, from health and harmony, was an illusion—something that appears to be unmistakably real, but totally disappears when the light of truth is shined upon it. This illusion couldn’t withstand my firmly held consciousness of being the image and likeness of God, and therefore reflecting all that belongs to God. That is our true and eternal relationship to God. In a few moments, the feeling of illness had completely disappeared and did not return.
We all can begin today to experience the healing treasures of following a path that’s in accord with who we are as God’s reflection.