A renewed life

There’s something marvelous about watching a parched plant revive with water. Once, when I briefly neglected the one on my kitchen windowsill, I found it limp and drooping. But just a few hours after watering it, I noticed how completely it had recovered, its stems reaching skyward, as though offering praise for the gift of life.

Yet plants, like all of us, “thirst again”—as Jesus once told a woman drawing water from Jacob’s well (see John 4:7–30). Who knows how many times she’d visited that well, seeking liquid life. How many times have all of us thirsted to renew our lives, marking the start to a new calendar year with a reinvigorated dedication to eating better, working out, detoxing, and decompressing?

Though it’s natural to take care of ourselves, what’s ours to embrace—just as it was for the woman at the well—is a renewal far better than changes that never fully satisfy the relentless thirst that says something is missing. Jesus called this gift “living water” and added, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (verse 14, New King James Version). Jesus went on to describe this living water as the understanding that God is Spirit, shifting our perception of the basis of existence from mortality—a well that runs dry—to a revivifying and lasting sense of Life in and of Spirit.

Christ comes to each of us to reveal more of our life in Spirit.

While the woman at the well was quick to tell Jesus that she wanted this living water he spoke of, her renewal didn’t come simply from asking to grasp this more substantial, spiritual view of life. She also had to face—and then let go of—the very thing she’d resisted having brought to light: an immoral lifestyle. And while her immoral acts may not be our particular pitfall, her experience does provide a model for us. A life deeply rooted in a sense of God as Spirit requires us to look at, and then divest ourselves of, ways of thinking and acting that don’t align with that understanding. 

Cultivating not only a heart that yearns to understand God as Spirit but also a willingness to identify and let go of materialistic ways of thinking is central to the practice of Christian Science, according to its Discoverer, Mary Baker Eddy. Her primary text on this Science of Spirit, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, explains, “Without a fitness for holiness, we cannot receive holiness. 

“A great sacrifice of material things must precede this advanced spiritual understanding” (pp. 15–16).

Understanding that God is Spirit goes beyond a surface-level acceptance of God as nonphysical. Christian Science unlocks the deeper implications of this simple statement, showing that Spirit’s creation must be like Spirit: not material, but spiritual. And it must reflect all the qualities of Spirit, including purity, harmony, perfection, and immortality—not someday, but here and now. 

The woman at the well had no problem accepting the idea of eternal life as a someday concept. She told Jesus she knew that with the coming of Christ, all this and more would be revealed. But for Jesus, God’s kingdom—the supremacy and allness of Spirit—was already present. Regarding Christ, the Messiah, he told her, “I that speak unto thee am he.” Jesus so completely embodied Christ, which is the truth of each individual’s being, that in his presence the woman’s view of existence must have been purified and transformed. Surely many of her old ways of thinking about herself fell away for an infinitely more satisfying sense of life. And this was the “living water” she carried away with her, which would sustain her far longer than the water she had drawn—and enable her to make the moral changes she perhaps yearned to make.

Today, this same Christ comes to each of us to reveal more of our life in Spirit. For me, this has often come as the lifting of a feeling of heaviness—a dawning certainty that the problems and burdens of mortal existence don’t have the authority or power they claim to have. In fact, since the living Spirit is our real substance, these challenges are, ultimately, insubstantial—powerless. 

Grasping this fact involves relinquishing a view of problems as scary, difficult, or intractable. That might feel like a big job, especially when what we see hourly reinforces this viewpoint. But Christ reaches even these unyielding places in our thoughts and dissolves them. The result is a more inspired thought, a more unselfish life, and even healing—all the hallmarks of a life rooted in Spirit. 

Witnessing 2021 change to 2022 may leave us feeling at least temporarily renewed and hopeful. But the true gift of newness, as explained by Christian Science, is forever present: the recognition of our here-and-now life in God—safe, sustained, and satisfied.

Jenny Sawyer, Guest Editorial Writer 

Learning the not-so-hard way
January 3, 2022

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