The good that is you

To reflect God is to be conscious of both the good that we have and the good that we are. 

Looking to be a better healer? Then you’ll want to keep an eye out for articles like this one appearing periodically in the Sentinel, The Christian Science Journal, and The Herald of Christian Science. Their aim: to correct some of the misconceptions about Christian Science that would keep us from having the results we so desire.

“What does it mean to be blessed?” I asked one of my Christian Science Sunday School students, suggesting as a “for instance” that some might think of it as having a lot of good in their lives, as being completely satisfied.

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He paused for a moment, then said, “For me, being blessed isn’t so much about the good I’ve received as it is knowing that I am good.”

I was floored. I’d been teaching Sunday School for over thirty years, and it wasn’t until that moment that I understood what it truly means to be blessed. As it says in the Bible: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. . . . And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:27, 31). What a blessing it is to know this—and how deeply satisfying.

How is it, then, that we spend so much time and effort in trying to acquire good for ourselves? Is it that we don’t believe what the Bible says about us? Or that we see ourselves as being personally responsible for the creation or manifestation of good rather than as being its very expression?

It’s probably a little of both.

Whenever it looks as if we’re being deprived of some aspect of good—perhaps a fulfilling career, a supportive family, a healthy body, or even the most basic things such as food and shelter—it can be tough to accept that God sees us as “very good” or that He is Himself good. It can also be tempting to try to take matters into our own hands, thinking that we might be able to fill the void through sheer force of human will.

Based on my own experience, however, I’d say this never works. But I’ve also found that prayer never fails to restore my confidence in God as the source of all goodness, not to mention my ability and natural inclination to reflect this goodness. This prayer includes a sincere willingness to exchange a limited, matter-based view of myself for a divinely inspired view.

Here’s just one example. Some years ago, while I was having my teeth cleaned, the dentist expressed concern about an infection of some sort underneath my tongue. Although he kept saying, “It probably isn’t cancer,” the mere mention of that word was upsetting to me. Instead of recommending any particular treatment, he simply asked that I come back in a few weeks for another checkup.

In spite of my initial fear, I was able to spend some time praying about what I knew deep down to be my true spiritual substance. And one of the first thoughts that came to mind was from the book of Ecclesiastes: “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it” (3:14).

How reassuring it was to know that the good God created me to be is the good He continues to see—that this goodness isn’t mine to maintain but His, and that it is forever undisturbed, complete, and pure.

I also found encouragement in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, who writes, “A spiritual idea has not a single element of error, and this truth removes properly whatever is offensive” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 463).

My prayers weren’t about “visualizing” my way to a healing or personally manifesting something good for myself. They were about being receptive to God’s revelation of my innate goodness, my present and eternal wholeness, as God’s, Spirit’s, reflection. Revelations such as these are identified in Christian Science as Christ, “the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (Science and Health, p. 332).

Goodness isn’t mine to maintain but God’s.

And what was the effect of this particular message from God, this confirmation of my spiritual substance? When I returned to the dentist, all evidence of infection was gone, and it hasn’t returned.

“Man shines by borrowed light,” writes Eddy. “He reflects God as his Mind, and this reflection is substance,—the substance of good” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 57). To reflect God as Mind is to be conscious of both the good that we have and the good that we are. Even more, it’s to understand the substance of this goodness to be wholly spiritual in nature, not in the least bit limited by the mistaken belief in a life defined by matter.

Christ Jesus certainly knew the importance of steering clear of such a belief. This enabled him to see others as God saw them and, in so doing, effect quick and complete healing.

We read in the Gospel of John: “As Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (9:1–3).

Jesus wasn’t interested in assigning blame to anyone for the apparent lack of good in this individual’s life. Rather, he acknowledged the allness of good in everyone, making way for “the works of God”—including the inherent health and wholeness of man—to be “made manifest.” And the result? The man was healed.

Although no one can say for sure, I wouldn’t be surprised if this man came away from this experience thinking something very much along the lines of what my Sunday School student shared with me: that the healing he’d had wasn’t so much about the good he received as about being assured that he was himself good.

Such Christly assurances await all of us as we look to God as the source and substance of our being and see goodness not as something for us to get but rather as ours to reflect, to experience, and to behold in ourselves and others as the image and likeness—the essential expression—of an all-good God.

April 10, 2023

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