EVERYDAY SPIRITUAL SELF-DEFENSE
EARLY ON in my study of Christian Science, I focused on filling my thought with the truth and power of what Mary Baker Eddy had discovered. I loved talking with more experienced workers and practitioners in this Science. They would occasionally point out that while I was right to emphasize the positive aspects of exploring divine Truth, I wasn't always as willing to explore its hypothetical opposite, which Mrs. Eddy named error.
Christian Science employs Truth as one of the synonyms for God, and also uses the word as a descriptive term for the laws of God, or divine Science. "Truth," Mrs. Eddy wrote, "is the intelligence of immortal Mind [God]. Error is the so-called intelligence of mortal mind" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 282)
In those early days, my attitude fit this description: "Many are willing to open the eyes of the people to the power of good resident in divine Mind, but they are not so willing to point out the evil in human thought, and expose evil's hidden mental ways of accomplishing iniquity" (pp. 570-571). Examining "evil's hidden mental ways" might seem daunting or depressing at first. But the whole purpose of this examination is to expose the nothingness and powerlessness of evil, whether it takes form as disease, hate, want, or any other phase of mortal life.
Coming through one's own thoughts, error always presents itself as real, attempting to deceive us into accepting evil as an actual fact. But viewing error from the standpoint of Christian Science—instead of feeling depressed over examining it—we are strengthened with the feeling of dominion that only an enlightened, spiritual sense provides. God is also Life, and God is good. He expresses His nature in the indestructible and unlimited capacities that characterize our true being.
As long as we believe life to be material and vulnerable, there will be a need to recognize evil as a false mental image, and defend ourselves against it. To this end, Mrs. Eddy provided the following guidance to Christian Scientists: "It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not be made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind. By his works he shall be judged,—and justified or condemned" (Manual of The Mother Church, p. 42). Although Mrs. Eddy was specifically addressing members of her Church, this guidance can help anyone seeking release from the mental tyrannies of malice, fear, illness, sorrow. For me, the "how" of freedom lies in how I respond to the three duties described in this By-Law.
In thinking about my duty to God, I first feel the need to acknowledge God's existence and power—to realize that there is no other power or existence besides God and His creation. I also need to see that God is infinite Spirit, as the Bible describes Him. All-encompassing, incorporeal Spirit must exclude error as a reality.
One kind of "aggressive mental suggestion" is the thought that it's simply too hard to believe in the ever-presence of Spirit, because the evidence of a matter-world is too convincing to reject. However, I don't have to realize the divine nature through mere human efforts. Spirit constantly imparts this awareness of spiritual reality to each one of us. Even before I reach the point where the material view of life entirely disappears from my awareness, I can experience the effect of this spiritualization of thought, as matter's limitations and discords fade in the light of Spirit's substantiality. I have experienced countless healings in Christian Science in this way, each one confirming Spirit's power and presence in my life.
Another way I can fulfill my duty to God is to be grateful for His nature as Love, providing all that is good and satisfying for His creation. Gratitude replaces the aggressive suggestion that I can lack anything needful, or be the victim of any evil condition or influence.
I look to God as the total source of my being, as the source of everything I am, everything I have, everything I feel.
God is also all-intelligent Mind. To grasp this fact is to counteract the tempting argument that there can ever be a mistake in His guidance and control of our lives. In addition to acknowledging God as Love and Mind, I love to commit myself to the God who is Soul, by seeing Him as continuously uplifting my heart with joy, buoyancy, and satisfaction.
My duty to God also includes the need to understand Him clearly, and not to adulterate this understanding by accepting anything that is less than the purest perception of His perfect nature—and, according to the Bible, God is of "purer eyes than to behold evil" (Hab. 1:13). I look to God as the total source of my being, as the source of everything I am, everything I have, everything I feel. Defending, praying for, myself in this way, I'm in a position to counteract any suggestion that portrays lack, depression, irritation, fear, or frustration as a part of God's creation.
Mary Baker Eddy discovered the Science, or divine laws, that enabled Christ Jesus to heal. I fulfill my duty to Mrs. Eddy, the inspired Leader of those who practice this Science, by accepting the authenticity of her discovery as divinely revealed Truth. I accept the guidelines for thinking spiritually that she gave those who practice Christian Science healing, and pray to know that no phase of world thought can discredit this full explanation of Truth.
I also find it important to defend myself against the aggressive suggestion that with so many human demands and activities, I don't have time to study and pray sufficiently. Or, that I don't have time for the many avenues for progress and service outlined in the Church Manual, such as attending church services on Sunday and Wednesday, and supporting public lectures on Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy indicated that these Manual provisions are all designed to increase one's understanding and healing ability (see The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 230).
Added to the usual time concerns, there's the argument that other activities are more tangible, interesting, or satisfying than the spiritual activity of mentally working and praying with the ideas that come from God. But Christian Science fulfills the promise of Christ Jesus: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
Everything about this scientific daily defense imbues my activities and relationships with the divine nature of God, and enriches them. I don't have to outline how this promise of true abundance will take form. I can let the divine Mind guide the events in my life, and then can feel the freedom and inspiration of what God provides. The Bible and Science and Health make these truths plain, and all I need to do is accept them as true.
My "duty to mankind" impels me to love each individual enough to see him or her as Mind's spiritual idea, expressing the nature of God as the Creator of us all. Considering all the troubles in the world—widespread diseases and physical ills, poverty, wars, as well as the prevalence of enslaving addictions in many forms—it's natural to want to counteract these assaults on humanity's well-being. I do that by defending in my prayers the spiritual integrity of man—the generic term for all of God's children, male and female—as created in the divine likeness.
To the degree that I accept destructive conditions as true for others, I consent to the possibility of such troubles invading my own life. However, as I consciously reject in my daily prayers the belief that God could create or send such ills, I strengthen my own character by expressing more of my genuine Godlike identity. And through living and thinking rightly along these lines, I find I can uplift those around me. I can help them see that when we break the mesmeric hold of fear for ourselves, we help counteract the mesmerism of universally held beliefs that trouble ourselves and others. Then we're all actually being that "light of the world" that Jesus spoke of (see Matt. 5:14), and fulfilling our duty to all mankind.
God is our eternal, total defense. What infinite Mind had conceived constitutes the reality of all being. Thinking and praying from this basis, we avoid the extremes of either making a reality of error or of ignoring it. Instead, daily good works verify in increasing degree the spiritual fact that we are not condemned to the ills of mortal life, but are forever blessed as God's full and perfect expression. |CSS