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The healthy body

From the April 3, 2017 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

To be in good health is a natural and right desire of every human being. Christ Jesus certainly understood this. Compassion and tender care for the welfare of others were constant features of his ministry, which he expressed in very practical terms—not only uprooting moral weaknesses but also curing physical and mental diseases and infirmities, restoring sight and hearing, providing food for hungry followers, and even restoring life to those who had died. 

Yet, unlike the intense focus of today’s society on the human body, Jesus almost never spoke of the physical body, except to encourage people not to be anxious about it—as when he said: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? … your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:25, 32, 33).

Because of these practical effects, Jesus’ approach is definitely worthy of consideration today. His emphasis was on turning one’s attention to God, and to the body of spiritual ideas and qualities that are inherent in each individual as God’s spiritual creation, man—the embodiment of all God includes and expresses. He proved wholeness—health—to be the only and forever condition of God and man. In this way, Jesus met human needs, including the need for healing, through the power of God, divine Love.

Jesus met human needs, including the need for healing, through the power of God, divine Love. 

Everything Jesus taught and lived directed human thought to give one’s full attention to loving God, divine Spirit, and to loving oneself and others as God’s sons and daughters—as brothers and sisters in one divine family. His teachings inspired the development of God’s qualities in individual character. The effect of putting love for God ahead of all else was that people felt the spirit and energy of divine Life working within them—exposing the error of matter-based ways of thinking and living, purifying their hearts, awakening them to live moral lives, moving them to express courage and grace in times of persecution, enabling them to conquer hate with spiritual love, healing them, and empowering them to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils” (Matthew 10:8).

Jesus’ emphasis on spirituality has helped me realize that just as there is only one God, there is actually only one real body—the body of God’s spiritual ideas and qualities that make up our real identity as man, God’s image. This body is healthy. Mary Baker Eddy’s definition of man in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures includes this: “the full representation of Mind” (p. 591).The infinite spiritual qualities that make up man as divine Mind’s “full representation” include love, strength, purity, justice, creativity, mercy, intelligence, reliability, wisdom, and so on.

Embodying God’s ideas and qualities in our thoughts and character is the way to experience God meeting all our human needs, including the need for the health of the human body. And one infinite body of spiritual qualities and ideas is enough for everyone; we each include them all, and can individually express them without limit. This is an astonishingly practical theology—enabling people to heal and be healed through the power of Spirit, as Jesus did.

Mrs. Eddy articulated the core of Christian Science theology succinctly in her answer to the question, “What is the scientific statement of being?” in Science and Health (p. 468). The second sentence clearly defines the spiritual body of thought that makes up man in God’s image: “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all.” To me that means that man doesn’t have a body apart from God; man is body—the manifestation of Mind. 

To know that “the infinite manifestation” of infinite divine Mind is what we actually are—rather than a finite mind inside a finite mortal body—is a huge departure from the way we commonly think of ourselves. It can be easy to think it is pure fantasy. But when you have a sincere desire to discern whether it is actually true, think it through with logical reasoning, and experience its healing power over and over again—as I and many others have—you can have no doubt of its truth. Its practicality is in this fact: One’s physical body is profoundly improved when spiritual truth effects changes in one’s thought and character—that is, when attention shifts from materiality to spirituality.

Mrs. Eddy once wrote, “The Bible teaches transformation of the body by the renewal of Spirit” (Science and Health, p. 241). In proportion as you give your humble attention to learning the nature of divine Spirit, and to embracing the infinite body of Spirit’s qualities and ideas as your true identity, you will feel the power of Spirit transforming your character and body. This is healing by Spirit, not by human will. In fact, the human will must bow to the divine, as in Jesus’ promise: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). 

Divine Truth does indeed have the power to heal mental and physical diseases—as surely as it has the power to purify and transform human character. In fact, when one experiences God’s ability to heal, that is a clear attraction for seeking to follow the way of life taught by Christ Jesus—a life fully dedicated to loving God and embodying the spiritual qualities that make up your being as the reflection of divine Love, the healthy body.

Barbara Vining

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