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ESCAPE to reality

From the December 12, 2005 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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BREAKING FREE FROM HARMFUL THOUGHTS

I am in a great strait:
let us fall now into the hand of the Lord;
for his mercies are great:
and let me not fall into the hand of man.

—II Samuel 24:14

Can You Picture an existence where health lasts, there's no disease, life is a joy, supply never runs out, and love is everywhere? Utopian? Maybe. Impossible? No. Reachable? Absolutely. Christ Jesus came to show us such a reality and how to get there. He proclaimed, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand," and he walked the path to heaven with its gift of eternal life and boundless freedom, a path for us to follow, too (see Matt. 4:17).

"Heaven sounds great," a friend commented. "But I have problems here on earth to deal with. I'm held hostage to big mortgage payments, an illness that won't go away, and a marriage that's falling apart." My friend wanted to know how spiritual goodness could break her free of imprisoning earthly conditions.

Christian Science is a system of spiritual healing that answers that query by explaining heaven and all of its blessings to be accessible to everyone here and now. Heaven is not a faroff place, but the presence of God active in our lives. When feeling captive to any adversity, we can break free of mental and physical limitations by turning to God for strength, solutions, inspiration, guidance, wisdom. God is the all-knowing Mind that constantly imparts the thoughts of health, love, and intelligence we need to be well and free. Whatever strait we feel stuck in, God is able to lift us out through divine power.

Jesus Christ proved through feeding the multitudes, raising the dead, and healing the sick that the realities of heavenly existence can be tangibly felt to an increasing degree here on earth. He did not traipse on by the diseased and ignore their plight. He did not turn down the disciples' request to do something about the raging storm. He responded with love and spiritual understanding that took the disease away and stilled the tempest. His understanding of God's immediacy and supremacy set the captive free. Those whose lives he touched felt a bit more of heaven in their own experience.

In case you are tempted to pray for some material thing or circumstance to help you get out of trouble, it's important to understand that Jesus' designated route to freedom was not a prescription for finding mere comfort in matter. When he exclaimed, "Follow me!" Jesus didn't head off to spend a windfall or loll on a beach. Jesus went to Spirit, to God. He ascended. That is, his thought let go of the earth, left behind its worldly goals, priorities, and desires, and rose into pure, spiritual consciousness—the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus showed that the ticket to freedom from the bondage of the world was spiritual growth and life in Spirit—which can be seen as heavenly existence. Some of his audience sought material growth, such as more money, fame, or popularity (see Mark 10; Matt. 23). They sought to increase their stature in the world and before men. Not Jesus. He strove for increased spiritual understanding, faith, wisdom, and love. He knew the things of the world were fleeting and not reliable sources of freedom or comfort. He did not seek fame and fortune. He understood God to be his life, and he lived for God accordingly. He did not try to find heaven in the perfect house, the perfect body, the ideal human relationship or geographical location. Evidently, he spiritualized such desires by looking to Spirit for the good he sought, and trusted divine help to manifest itself in forms that were humanly appropriate, such as necessary clothes, food, and shelter.

We can also learn from the example of the Apostle Paul and his partner Silas how to break free from oppression. They faced anger, tyranny, disease, loneliness, and other types of evil, and demonstrated that there is a spiritual way out of captivity. They faced evil situations, which appeared formidable and insurmountable at times. But they proved that these circumstances could not hold them prisoner, because such evils deny the omnipresence of Spirit, God, and can be overturned. It's through spiritual sense that we can all become more aware of Spirit's presence and discover God's immediate salvation.

At one point, Paul and Silas were captured by enemies who wanted to kill them (see Acts 16). They were cast into an inner prison, locked in stocks, watched by guards, and scheduled to be tried by a court that was undoubtedly rigged to their disadvantage. To all appearances, Paul and Silas were trapped, overpowered, and doomed—held hostage by evil powers that aimed to destroy them and their mission.

Apparently unimpressed by dire physical straits, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God. Their bodies were in a prison cell—but their thinking was not. Their understanding of life in Spirit prevented the material circumstances from holding their perspective captive to fear and worry. According to the Bible, they did not spend all of their time fretting over their material plight. They did not give in to hopelessness. They focused instead on spiritual reality where God reigns supreme. And God answered their trust. A mighty force shook the foundations of the prison, flung the doors open, and loosed their bands. They walked out free. The iron grip of hate and malice was broken, and a bit more of heaven's reality blessed their continuing ministry.

This rule of looking to Spirit for escape from would-be captors also applies to release from health problems. If someone is facing an ominous medical diagnosis, pain, an addiction, or disease, the prediction and suffering can be broken with even just a glimpse of spiritual reality. As Paul and Silas did in prison, we can look beyond and above the material picture of disorder to Spirit for the help we seek.

Jesus Christ proved through feeding the multitudes, raising the dead, and healing the sick that the realities of heavenly existence can be tangibly felt to an increasing degree here on earth.

In Spirit, we discover health to be the standard of Life, God being Life. Health and Life come together in one divine package. They cannot be separated from one another. Health is immortal, like love, intelligence, or joy. Life is spiritual. Health is a quality of Life.

As a spiritual presence, health is not found in a pulse rate, in blood, lungs, the brain, or in genes, any more than love is found in the heart or the lips. Love may be expressed by a smile, a good deed, or kind words, but the love manifested is not in the body expressing the love. The love is a state of Mind, God, expressed through the individual's spiritual-mindedness governing the human body.

The same rule applies to health. Health may be manifest as a properly functioning heart or flexible and strong muscles, but the health manifested is not in the heart or in the muscles. Health is a quality of Spirit, expressed. Health is not material; it is incorporeal.

About 13 years ago, a man who had just retired from a long and successful career as an engineer called me. He was in great pain and agony. We had met at a conference the previous year and had discussed Christian Science healing. He was lain out on his back, unable to move or walk without excruciating pain. A doctor had diagnosed an arthritic condition that had no medical remedy. My caller was told he'd have to take pain relievers to cope with the disease for the rest of his life. He felt like a hostage held in unfair conditions under an unjust decree.

I assured him he could be healed in Christian Science and told him he need not fear the medical diagnosis, because God was still his Life. The doctor's perspective had not taken into account his spiritual selfhood, which was healthy and incapable of becoming arthritic. We prayed together for health and a better understanding of his perfect selfhood in Spirit.

In three days, he was able to wash his car. In nine days, the pain and crippling condition were gone. There was a mild recurrence a couple of years later, which was quickly vanquished with reaffirmations of God's ability to keep him permanently well. Since this healing, my new friend has led an active and healthy lifestyle, able to enjoy time with his family and special projects.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures states: "The human thought must free itself from self-imposed materiality and bondage. It should no longer ask of the head, heart, or lungs: What are man's prospects for life? Mind is not helpless. Intelligence is not mute before non-intelligence" (p. 191). "Self-imposed materiality and bondage" spring from the belief of life in matter, which is the antithesis of Life in Spirit. A successful route out of feeling captive to material constraints is to ascend in thought to Spirit, where we find all the blessings we could ever hope for.

As Jesus proved, as Paul and Silas witnessed, and my friend saw, too, an understanding of our life and liberty in Spirit shatters matter-limits. It sets the captive thought and body free. Healing happens, and a bit more of heaven is found here on earth. | ♦


Evan Mehlenbacher is a contributing editor, and also a Christian Science practitioner and teacher. He lives in Kennewick, Washington.

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