What’s truly in control of us?
If we’re struggling with a thought we shouldn’t think that leads to doing something we shouldn’t be doing, it can feel as though our life is out of control.
But what if the real issue isn’t so much a lack of control as a mistaken sense of what it is that controls us? It certainly seems we’re at the mercy of impulses that determine our actions, but it’s worth pondering a thought-provoking idea that suggests that this might not be the case. According to Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, which articulates the Science of Christ that Jesus’ life and healings demonstrated, “All is under the control of the one Mind, even God” (p. 544).
The Mind that is God is, logically, the source of thoughts that are godly, therefore good. And the gospel record of Jesus’ healings illustrates the outcome of being controlled by such thinking. Health was restored even in those who had been chronically unwell (see Mark 5:25–34 and John 5:1–9). Jesus proved that God’s benign control was present right where sickness seemed to be. He saw in others what God sees in all: We are each made in the image of God, in whom there is no sickness to be imaged forth. It was Jesus’ clear sense of God being expressed only in the divine likeness that healed.
At all points, then, being God’s image is the reality of our identity. But still, can it possibly be true that God’s control is present even if we’re repeatedly entertaining and acting on impulses alien to our nature as Deity’s good and upright offspring? It doesn’t feel that way when we’re embroiled in such thoughts and behavior, but there is a way forward to increasingly understand and demonstrate that this idea has validity. The Bible counsels, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). It’s in the human mind that those “thoughts we shouldn’t think” find their home, while the mind that was so clearly reflected by Christ Jesus is the divine Mind with its purely good thoughts. To let that Mind be in us is to increasingly yield up the belief of being governed by a human mind and better understand and accept that we are governed by the divine Mind.
We can stand firm for our capacity to think and act rightly, and lean on God’s power to enable us to identify and refute opposite thinking.
This mental shift is spiritual regeneration. It’s an awakening of thought that comes through Christ, God’s communication to us of good thinking and good acting. Christ is continually urging and enabling us to relinquish the sense of being controlled by thinking that is independent of God for our true Christliness under God’s infinitely sweet control.
Meeting the ongoing spiritual demand for this regeneration is often easier said than done. The impulses, belief in inherited traits, and environmental forces that appear to govern our experience seem to argue aggressively that they determine who we are. But the scientific understanding of Christ enables us to silence such clamor by empowering our ability to submit to the things we recognize as being of God and to rebel against things not of God. Through this, we increasingly uncover the self-control that’s divinely natural to us as the expression of the divine Mind.
That the capacity to submit to this self-control is inherently ours is affirmed in Mrs. Eddy’s book Pulpit and Press. Pointing to Jesus’ promise that God’s kingdom is within us, she says, “Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love. If you maintain this position, who or what can cause you to sin or suffer?” (p. 3).
No matter how many moments of progress are needed amidst moments when we don’t successfully “maintain this position,” we can stand firm for our capacity to think and act rightly, and lean on God’s power to enable us to identify and refute opposite thinking. Be it slow or fast, each such step of spiritual growth is precious in itself. And this growth continues until we are disabused of the belief in the human mind’s ability to usurp Mind’s control over us—or, indeed, the conviction that there is a human mind to compete with the divine Mind. What Jesus was ultimately proving in each healing was that Mind controls all because it is All—the only Mind. “The divine understanding reigns, is all, and there is no other consciousness,” Science and Health says (p. 536).
As Christ-impelled regeneration leads to our demonstration that this divine understanding is our genuine thinking instead of any thought that has led to actions that have shackled us, the behavior itself will also fall away, for good.
Tony Lobl, Associate Editor