The entireness of good
There’s a cartoon that depicts two fish swimming around, and one says, “I don’t get it. What’s all this water everyone is always talking about?”
As a longtime student of Christian Science and a regular reader of this magazine, I can relate. Hearing so much about good being all there is, we can become as accustomed to this truth as a fish is to water. Then it’s helpful to ask ourselves, Have I become unmindful of the glorious reality that only good is actually going on all around us?
The ever-presence and omnipotence of good is, after all, the basis of Christ Jesus’ teachings and his healing works, and it’s what the very first chapter of the Bible teaches: “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
It may seem a tall order to admit into our consciousness only that which is good, yet isn’t that what the First Commandment demands of us: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3)? Because the word God refers to the entireness of good, we can interpret this demand to mean, “Don’t deny the infinitude of good or admit into consciousness anything that claims evil as a reality.”
To keep good as the only reality in our thoughts, words, and actions is to express our innate spirituality as children of God, divine Spirit. It’s our daily and hourly duty, and the very defense of our true selfhood.
Now, if we believe we have to make good real, or make it happen in our lives, this could be quite a burden. But man is not responsible for creating good. Everything God has made is actually spiritual and good right now, and His creation is complete. Our role is to acknowledge the presence of this spiritual good always at hand—to cultivate it within us continually and rely on it as naturally as fish swim, breathe, eat, and live in the water surrounding them. The more we develop an awareness of and reliance on the divine goodness we actually live in, the more we experience it; continually turning our thoughts to good exposes and removes the “presence” of evil, which is nothing more than the supposed absence of good.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, states on page 206 of Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, “The real Christian Scientist is constantly accentuating harmony in word and deed, mentally and orally, perpetually repeating this diapason of heaven: ‘Good is my God, and my God is good.’ ” And on page 277 she shares her own prayerful disposition toward the suggestions of evil, and a law for us to apply: “No evidence before the material senses can close my eyes to the scientific proof that God, good, is supreme.”
It is essential that we understand that good is the only reality, since it is easier to reject evil as a baseless lie than it is to battle it as something legitimate and powerful.
We have strong evidence in the life of Christ Jesus, our Way-shower, that he never saw sin, disease, or death as real. Is this not a pattern for us to adopt when dealing with discords of any kind? Even if we are temporarily deceived, nothing can prevent us from waking to the almightiness of God’s great goodness through thoughtful reasoning and the demonstration of the law of perpetual harmony—through a deep acknowledgment that the kingdom of heaven is always right here, right now.
When we have been led away from this important unconditional acknowledgment of good, it is often by the subtle temptations of such human impulses as unnatural curiosity, self-righteousness, personal sense, self-will, and egotism, and by the pull of the world’s acceptance of material conditions as having power.
In the Christian Science periodicals there are countless articles on the subject of refusing to know evil. It is of interest to me that two different articles with the same title, “Thou shalt not know evil,” were published in the Sentinel by the same author, Gladys C. Girard, about 18 years apart, in the issues of January 25, 1947, and March 27, 1965. Both are worth reading and pondering.
Nothing can prevent us from waking to the almightiness of God’s great goodness.
I was struck by this statement in the earlier article: “Human thought which cognizes evil sees its own false belief. If mortals through human will persist in dwelling in a realm of false belief rather than of fact, they experience unnatural, inharmonious, and evil results. Mortals’ false material views of existence are in direct opposition to Mary Baker Eddy’s statement in ‘Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures’ (pp. 19, 20), ‘Thou shalt have no belief of Life as mortal; thou shalt not know evil, for there is one Life,—even God, good.’ ”
What is this “human will” the author speaks of that insists on “dwelling in a realm of false belief”? It is the hypnotic state of what Christian Science terms mortal mind, which is not a true mind at all, and certainly not our real Mind, which is God, good. Mrs. Eddy explains: “Mortal mind is an illusion; as much in our waking moments as in the dreams of sleep. The belief that intelligence, Truth, and Love, are in matter and separate from God, is an error; for there is no intelligent evil, and no power besides God, good” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 36).
Not long ago I was challenged concerning the allness of God’s goodness. In April 2016 I awakened one morning unable to move without great difficulty. Slowly and painfully, I got up. The condition was debilitating and frightening, but because of countless healings I had experienced in the past, I assumed it would be overcome quickly. Instead, it took months of steadfast reliance on what I knew to be the reality of man’s being.
During this time, my joints were affected with pain and inflammation, and my hands were swollen. On several occasions I heard it said that this was an incurable condition, but I knew God could heal me. I relied solely on prayer, with the dedicated help of various Christian Science practitioners at different times.
After a day when I had been feeling much freer and making good progress, I awoke in the night with severe restriction and discomfort. I got up and began to mentally wrestle with the belief of a power opposite to God. At some point I must have fallen asleep in a chair, and I woke up feeling as though I had been physically beaten up. Shortly after this, I decided to turn completely away from the problem and go on with my life to the best of my ability, giving as little attention to the body as possible.
I gave myself a Christian Science treatment each day, affirming infinite Spirit, good, as the only reality, at the same time wholly rejecting the existence of matter. And I praised God for every bit of freedom. Improvement was incremental but steady as I allowed only good to dominate my thoughts. By late summer of 2017, all symptoms had disappeared, and there has been no recurrence.
Nothing either good or evil, harmonious or inharmonious, resides in matter, in the belief of matter as real, or in the acceptance of a material condition. The Scriptures assure us that God is wholly good and that man is His image and likeness, and this is the basis of every Christian Science healing.
The naturalness of good as the expression of God is suggested by a remark by Sojourner Truth quoted in a testimony on page 442 of Miscellaneous Writings: “God is the great house that holds all His children; we dwell in Him as the fishes dwell in the seas.”