"The time for thinkers has come." This arresting statement appears on the first page of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. A declaration like this knocks sharply on the door of thought, asking, Are we open to new ideas? Are we willing to reexamine our points of view, or are we afraid to accept the challenge of thinking about things from a new perspective?
I have to admit there is a certain self-satisfaction that goes with sticking to the tried and true. We are comfortable with our habits of thought. Our opinions, our points of view, our likes and dislikes—these have developed over years of living. Why do they need to be challenged? Rethought? Reexamined?
Yet, right on the first page, Science and Health admits that it intends to stir thought through the presentation of its revolutionary view of God and man. Not only this, it introduces a new way of living this relationship with God and His/Her creation. Science and Health is a revelation of divine ideas designed to spark a revolution in thought and behavior. It is important, then, to remind ourselves that revelation and revolution are not synonymous terms. Revelation signifies a new, inspired view; revolution signifies a drastic change. Normally, people will eagerly embrace the first, but many may struggle a lot when it demands the second.
As readers probe Science and Health, it soon becomes clear that spiritual thinkers are spiritual activists. Spiritual thinking inevitably challenges the way we've thought about things; it makes one see things from a different perspective. It literally changes the basis of thought. This isn't a mere intellectual exercise; these new views end up changing the way we live. Mrs. Eddy explained that an honest spiritual thinker and doer naturally becomes a spiritual healer, benefiting the race.
This transition in life is more demanding than we might expect. The Apostle Paul wrote about bringing every thought into "obedience to Christ," and Mrs. Eddy noted that Jesus' teachings require one "to set aside even the most cherished beliefs and practices, to leave all for Christ" (Science and Health, p. 141). What does it mean to embrace a Christlike view, to adopt a Christlike process of thinking, to have a Christlike aim? At its heart, it is to live by the Biblical counsel to acknowledge God in all our ways. That is, one consciously acknowledges the presence and control of God in all things at all times. One acknowledges that man and woman are truly God's work, subject to God alone. One persistently holds to the point that there is no other power, influence, activity, presence, except that which is of God, doing His/Her will. This requires a love and fidelity to God that is great enough, disciplined enough, determined enough, to pursue this line of thought under every circumstance.
For many people, this is easier to think about in the abstract than to actually do in day-to-day life. Despite their desire to be spiritually minded, many people find themselves all too quickly reacting to events. They are disappointed or outraged by what they hear or see. They accept the human view of things at face value. All too soon, they are living as though God has no place, no relevance, no role in life; or else as though God is inconsequential. They don't say this, but the proverbial saying is true: Actions speak louder than words. One's life, one's actions, attest to one's way of thinking: whether it is genuinely Christlike or fundamentally unspiritual.
We are tempted to react: to be angry, bitter, fearful, saddened, dismayed. The spiritual thinker overcomes this temptation by challenging the things that cause such feelings. They will ask, Is this evidence of God at work? If not, they'll ask, should I act, or react, as though God is absent? Then they'll answer, No! and protest against what has appeared or been reported. They will insist on their divine right to be conscious of God and His Christ as being present in life and evident in the actions of men and women. This kind of response is key to spiritual living and healing.
Here's a test. How strong are your political views? Do you identify yourself as conservative, moderate, or liberal? Do you pray daily for the effectiveness of the leader of your country? Are you tolerant of views different from your own? Is it your habit to think that the government is in the hands of a group of people—for good or bad—or to think that the "government is upon [God's] shoulders"?
A spiritual healer shields himself or herself from involvement in their patients' concerns about family politics or office politics or neighborhood association politics or national politics. To embrace strong personal views on these issues would work to undermine the bedrock of spiritual demonstration: the fact that all is governed by an ever-operative divine Principle.
One may well see or hear things that state the opposite, but the first reaction of a spiritual healer is to rise in protest; to assert that now, at this moment, God is ever present, ever active, in total control. A Christian healer sticks to this through thick and thin, if needed, until the evidence of this truth finally emerges.
Perhaps one disapproves of the actions of their government, or disapproves of those that oppose the policies of their government. It is obvious by listening to the TV or radio or following discussions on the Internet that many react by virtually cursing those who disagree with them. They speak of them in the most intolerant terms possible. Perhaps you've received what is called a flaming e-mail from someone who has disagreed with you. People do these things, they engage in hearty criticisms of others, without knowing that this process of thought is a form of malicious malpractice. It is a corrosive mental animus that harms the person who thinks this way. It cultivates a hateful or intolerant habit of thought, and this greatly weakens one's ability to bring healing to any situation.
The first reaction of a spiritual healer is to rise in protest; to assert that now, at this moment, God is ever present, ever active, in total control.
The Christian healer, on the other hand, constantly strives to see man and woman as the work of God: God-inspired, God-animated, God-directed, God-governed. This gives the healer the ability to deny that the so-called influence of corruption, ignorance, blind will, political passion, or dishonesty can govern man, the work of God. Healing is supported when the Christian thinker destroys the wrong sense by adhering steadfastly to the spiritually scientific fact that God, the divine Mind, rules in the hearts and minds of all. He or she then leaves the outcome of events in the hands of God, knowing that God brings good to pass.
It is well worth the effort to overcome the tendency to identify oneself or others as conservative or liberal. To be able to declare, I am neither. I am a spiritual healer; I am determined to see the hand of God at work in my government and in my leaders: This will bless our world more than all the political activism of the ages. Politics has its rightful role, and citizens need to exercise their rights, but the world is in need of a lot more spiritual passion and far less political passion.
In 1908, Mrs. Eddy gave this notice which was printed by the Boston Post, "I am asked, What are your politics?' I have none, in reality, other than to help support a righteous government; to love God supremely, and my neighbor as myself" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 276).
This is not an impossible standard to strive for. It does require that we be spiritual thinkers rather than political partisans. If one embraces this aim, one will find that he or she is freed from unchristian habits of thought, and the ability to be an effective healer in this world will grow significantly.
Richard Bergenheim is editor of The Christian Science Monitor.
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