Exercising our right to think spiritually

We have inviolable spiritual rights under God.

“I fear the loss of my rights!” A friend was lamenting a plethora of rules, policies, and laws considered or enacted to manage the spread of the coronavirus. Employers, government officials, and medical authorities—acting on their judgment about how to cope with a pandemic—have recommended or required social distancing, masking, vaccinations, quarantining, testing for disease, and more. 

Most people are willing to go along with efforts to promote health and safety for everyone. But some, like my friend, worry that ever-tightening regulations will threaten freedom of movement, self-government of the body, and individual health-care choices far into the future. 

In my own prayers to support public welfare and retain sovereignty over my life and body, I find guidance in remembering that we have inviolable spiritual rights under God. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains, “God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 106). Self-government, reason, and conscience are not temporal human assets at the mercy of community statutes, corporate policy, or state legislation. Because they are God-derived, these rights transcend human sanction. They are enforced by divine decree, and are forever ours to exercise and enjoy.   

Christ Jesus’ life was the supreme example of these bestowals in action. Inspired by God, he rejected the temptation to view himself—or anyone else—as a vulnerable being whose liberties could be denied or taken away. Faced with the tyranny of disease, for instance, he did not accept suffering as inevitable or seek ways to accommodate it. He cured sickness by asserting man’s right to health under God’s care. 

Faced with injustice, the Savior didn’t resort to legal, political, or military means of defending himself. He found his safety in trusting God, who is good and Love, and at the same time, exercised his sacred right to forgive rather than resent, bless instead of condemn, and return love for hate. Refusing to let the world’s abuse and oppression darken his thought, he voiced truth to ignorance and mastered evil with the power of God, infinite Truth and Love, and on occasion even won over those who had argued against his spiritual reasoning.

Even when faced with devious and cruel designs to kill him—through political maneuvering, theological scheming, and a rigged trial—Jesus responded from his deep knowledge of God. When Peter used armed force to protect his teacher from soldiers coming to take him captive, Jesus ordered, “Put away your sword” (Matthew 26:52, New Living Translation). And when a crowd wanted to crown him king and presumably lead a campaign against Rome, he refused these attempts at personal control and leadership (see John 6:15).  

In another compelling instance, the Roman magistrate Pilate impatiently hurled the threat at Jesus, “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?” (John 19:10, NLT). The Master was not intimidated. He recognized that his inherent rights were God-given—not at Pilate’s disposal but sustained by his Father, the Lord of heaven and earth. This perception gave him the composure and courage to reply, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above” (John 19:11, NLT).  

Jesus was crucified, but he wasn’t defeated. He perceived the real enemy to liberty and justice to be a mortal mentality, later identified in the Bible as the carnal mind (see Romans 8:6, 7). This mortal sense manifests itself as hatred, prejudice, selfishness, greed, lust for power, and fear. Applying the might of God—and asserting his privilege to reason, live, and love under God’s dominion—he dissolved its malicious intent and walked out of the tomb alive.

Today we’re given opportunities to exercise our own divine rights under God’s law, especially as mass anxiety about contagion makes helplessness, depression, and fear of the future seem normal. But evil is not the force it appears to be. Every claim of mortal mind to authority and control is an invention of its own vanity and ignorance, never a truth backed by spiritual reality. Jesus said about the devil (another name for the carnal mind), that “there is no truth in him,” and added, “When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44, NLT). 

Though it can be tempting to feel overwhelmed or despairing when confronted with oppressive influences on thought and actions, in reality there is one God, one power, over all. Christian Science explains: "The God-principle is omnipresent and omnipotent. God is everywhere, and nothing apart from Him is present or has power” (Science and Health, p. 473). God maintains His creation in an eternal state of health, liberty, and equity. In God’s realm there is no destructive mind or dark purpose to dominate us. 

Christian Science identifies the appearance of evil operating in human experience as an effect of animal magnetism—the belief that a force opposite to God, infinite Mind, exists to work evil through material means and conditions. This mesmeric belief is not an entity to fear, but a lie to be seen, exposed, and rejected for the error it is. All adversity—mass contagion, lack, pain, despotism, discrimination, injustice, fear—is symptomatic of animal magnetism. To the thought that discerns God’s omnipotence, it is proven powerless.

God has endowed everyone with incontrovertible spiritual rights to live healthy, strong, and free.

In teaching his students to be on the alert for the tyrannical lies of animal magnetism, Jesus counseled that we should be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Serpents represent any type of material reasoning that denies God’s supremacy. For example, mortal suggestion treats viruses as real and makes plans to manage them. Its explanations and affirmations may sound convincing to matter-based thinking. But they spring from merely human convoluted logic that would confuse thought into believing in a power other than God. If not resisted spiritually, this material reasoning can leave its adherents feeling helpless, hopeless, sick, and fearful. 

But suffering is not necessary! God has endowed everyone with incontrovertible spiritual rights to live healthy, strong, and free. God’s provision of self-government, reason, and conscience—as well as every other divine right—gives each of us the ability to stay calm amid turmoil, poised in the presence of aggression, healthy in the face of disease, and discerning when encountering ignorance or malice.

If we feel assaulted by material viewpoints, we can retain poise and dominion by impersonalizing what we hear and see, and understanding that the primary challenge is never a person, institution, or corporate body, but animal magnetism claiming an authority of its own. When one is conscious of God’s all-power, the claims of animal magnetism are countered and rendered harmless. Threats disappear, fear dissolves, indignation evaporates, health is preserved, and peace of mind prevails.

As children of God, we each have the divinely bestowed right to think and reason spiritually. Facing perceived challenges to liberty, including fears about governmental policy, we can address them fearlessly with a deep understanding of God’s omnipotence and omnipresence. We can listen for God’s direction, reason with spiritual truths, and act with a Love-inspired conscience in ways that bring healing. We can exercise our native right to see God in control, and trust that immortal Truth and Love always have the final say—and truly, the only one.

What makes prayer effective?
September 27, 2021

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