The Spirit of God bearing ‘outward, upward, heavenward’*

A friend recently sent along an Internet video that he felt was especially moving. I felt the same way as I watched it, and gradually I realized why.

The video opened with a winter scene in the Netherlands, near dark. The sky was spitting some raindrops and an occasional snowflake. People were Christmas shopping in the city center—somewhat preoccupied, expressionless. Then the camera began focusing on a man who was preparing to sing at the far edge of the square. He had placed his upturned hat on the pavement in front of him like a typical street entertainer, though he was actually an accomplished performer. As he began to sing, a few people stopped what they were doing to hear what was an uncommonly beautiful voice. More and more were drawn to listen.

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It was no ordinary street performance—the man’s heart was obviously pouring into every word. He was singing about being weary and burdened and then being lifted up. “You raise me up so I can stand on mountains … you raise me up to more than I can be” (Brendan Graham, “You Raise Me Up”).

The camera panned the faces of those watching. Expressions were changing. A few smiles were appearing. It was as though people were being brought home again to something there in their own heart. They, too, were being “raised up” by what they were hearing.

In recent years there’s been wider acceptance of the fact that this dimension of love and spirit in human beings has wider scope and is concrete. It isn’t to be explained away. Observers have noticed, for example, that something quite unexpected takes over when disasters strike, whether “perfect storms” or terrorist acts. It’s not just that people rise to the occasion. They often feel joy, new purposefulness, and are moved to great sacrifices and unselfishness. In short, they are raised up to be more than they thought they could be—that is, more than the way they’ve been thinking of themselves. And more than they’ve been described by a century or so of “ologies” and sciences based on matter. These glimpses of love and spirit are not some nice element in an otherwise overwhelmingly real universe of matter. They are, in fact, illuminations of the real nature of man and the universe, whose creator is God, Spirit. 

Today the spirit of the Christ, or true idea of God, opens up a universe of good that we find ourselves exploring step by step—and valuing more than anything.

The woman who founded the Church of Christ, Scientist—Mary Baker Eddy—discerned through a lifetime of concrete spiritual experiences that love is so all-important to humanity because it is in fact the shining through of the one great underlying reality. In place of the usual supposed domination of material life and limits, she was finding a limitless God who is Love itself and the governing Principle of creation. She once described her healing work to Abigail Dyer Thompson in this way: “I saw the love of God encircling the universe and man, filling all space, and that divine Love so permeated my consciousness that I loved with Christlike compassion everything I saw” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Vol. I, p. 153). Her life had been transformed by this new view of a spiritual reality so comprehensive and all-encompassing it had to be called divine, yet having such practical effect she explained it as Christianly scientific. It brought her own healing of a life of invalidism, and restored the healing works of original Christianity. 

Wasn’t it a total awareness of divine Love as the great reality of being that had to be the basis of Christ Jesus’ teaching? He knew of a loving Father who gave wondrously good gifts and blessings to His children. He said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). The compassionate healing and freeing that was so central to his life made evident the startling truth of all he was teaching. And he said that we, too, would find all this within, in spiritually awakened thought. 

Today the same spirit of the Christ, or true idea of God, is here “raising us up to more than we can be”—more than we imagine is possible from material appearances. It brings a life that is increasingly aware of God’s help and abounds with “angel messages.” It opens up a universe of good that we find ourselves exploring step by step—and valuing more than anything. As we continue in it­—are willing to abide in this instead of the misconceptions of living a merely material life—­we see it healing us of the grief, pain, and disease that claim to have such a hold on human life.  

Finding the infinite divine source of love, we know more of the Love that cares for us, heals us, gives all our joy and purpose. We come home to that which is raising us up to more than we can be. As Paul writes in a letter to the church at Corinth: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (I Corinthians 2:12).

Allison W. Phinney

* The quote in the title comes from this passage by Mary Baker Eddy: “May the kingdom of God within you,—with you alway,—reascending, bear you outward, upward, heavenward” (Pulpit and Press, pp. 10–11).

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December 21, 2015

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