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Divine protection from environmental extremes

From the June 12, 1995 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


We can expect to see a decreasing amount of destruction from "natural" hazards and environmental extremes as mankind more clearly understands that God's creation, man and the universe, can never be outside His control.

The key is translating man and our environment back into Spirit. Mary Baker Eddy speaks about this kind of translation in Science and Health where she writes: "The compounded minerals or aggregated substances composing the earth, the relations which constituent masses hold to each other, the magnitudes, distances, and revolutions of the celestial bodies, are of no real importance, when we remember that they all must give place to the spiritual fact by the translation of man and the universe back into Spirit. In proportion as this is done, man and the universe will be found harmonious and eternal" (p. 209).

On our family farm we had ample opportunity to discern life from a spiritual perspective. Instead of praying for it to rain (or not to rain), we began to understand that man, as God's full representation, includes every right idea. Often rains came as required. However, once during a drought, our soybean crop appeared doomed to failure.

This was an opportunity to go even higher in our understanding of man's dominion over the earth. Although the Judeo-Christian teaching of man's God-bestowed dominion over nature (described in Gen., chap. 1) has sometimes been interpreted as a license for resource exploitation, a spiritual view of dominion presents quite a different picture.

A license to despoil is not dominion. Nor is humanly willing something to happen. True dominion involves humility and obedience to God's laws. It is the ability to love everything that He has made. It is understanding the control that divine Love has over its entire creation—and man's reflection of that control and care.

When mortals act egotistically and disobey God's laws—or lose faith in them—they lose control of their surroundings. In contrast, Love-directed thought is environmentally restorative and protective.

One day I was out in the fields praying to be receptive to what God's truth was revealing to me about the crops. I caught a glimpse of the fact that the true substance of anything good is actually spiritual, and therefore incapable of deterioration. God sees everything as eternal ideas. And although rains did not come for some time, I felt at peace. The beans prospered, and we had a bountiful harvest that year.

This spiritual translation has nothing in common with pantheism—the doctrine that Spirit, God, expresses Himself through matter or nature. The Scriptures teach us that there is only one creator, and that like produces like. Therefore God's creation is spiritual, not material.

Christian Science exposes the falsity of the model of man as having a material mentality that is inherently destructive. The real nature of man was brought to light by Christ Jesus. He discerned man spiritually as God's image, expressing only goodness and unselfed love.

Similarly, destructive forces in nature are a counterfeit view of creation. Science and Health explains: "There is no vapid fury of mortal mind—expressed in earthquake, wind, wave, lightning, fire, bestial ferocity—and this so-called mind is self-destroyed. The manifestations of evil, which counterfeit divine justice, are called in the Scriptures, 'The anger of the Lord.' In reality, they show the self-destruction of error or matter and point to matter's opposite, the strength and permanency of Spirit" (p. 293).

It's not strictly speaking a "Mother Earth" that we have to protect. Rather it's that we need to wake up to the motherly qualities of God inherent in man's nature in order to be good stewards of our environment. These include gentleness and patience. This meekness protects us from mortal extremes of thinking and acting, inspires wisdom, and makes us receptive to divine power. In this process, the spiritual nature of life and growth is brought into clearer focus in human consciousness.

As we learn to translate life back into Spirit, we learn that our environment isn't really made up of uncontrollable external factors that determine our happiness and survival. Step by step divine Mind leads us to a higher concept of our environment, into "an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (II Cor. 5:1). This house is the pure consciousness of Love.

We can never really be outside of this house. God unconditionally and constantly encircles us with His loving presence. We witness this love as we learn to be Christlike, to follow the Golden Rule, and to be pure in heart. Mrs. Eddy once commented that "... the atmosphere of the human mind, when cleansed of self and permeated with divine Love, will reflect this purified subjective state in clearer skies, less thunderbolts, tornadoes, and extremes of heat and cold ..." (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 265).

By proving Love's control in our everyday lives, we are helping to demonstrate mankind's divine protection from any destructive force, including environmental extremes.

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