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The rewards of spiritual defense

From the May 15, 2017 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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For many years I have found inspiration and healing from the ideas in the Christian Science textbook, particularly from this statement: “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all.” This is the second sentence of Mary Baker Eddy’s “scientific statement of being” on page 468 of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Holding fast to this truth in my prayers, and seeking to understand more fully the allness of God—the one all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful Mind—is a firm foundation for spiritual healing.

Christ Jesus healed because his prayers were grounded in a spiritual understanding of man’s inseparability from divine Mind, and he treated thought burdened by sickness and sin to yield to the harmony of this Mind. It helps me, in my striving to heal as Jesus did, to acknowledge that I have this same Mind, as God’s reflection, and not a personal mind. This is true for each one of us. As the Apostle Paul said, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

There is only one Mind influencing and governing man. 

However, a while ago as I was pondering these ideas, it became clear to me that I was not going far enough in demonstrating them. I recalled the By-Law in the Church Manual that reminds Christian Scientists of the importance of prayer that affirms there is only one Mind influencing and governing man. The By-Law states, “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” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 42). This is one of the daily duties included in the Manual, specifically addressing prayer for oneself. But I had to admit that I was not being as diligent as I should in fulfilling this duty.

I realized how aggressive mental suggestion—the mortal suggestion that there is a power or mind opposed to God—would make a reality of matter and, therefore, of disease, sin, and evil. It would sow apathy and discouragement, attempting to take from us the joy of being God-centered and God-governed. 

Though these suggestions can be subtle, they have no power and we cannot mistake them for our own thought when we understand that “all is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all.” As stated in Genesis 1:26 in the Bible, man is made in the image and likeness of God, and has dominion over all the earth. Thus, man must be a complete, perfect idea having the mind of Christ, the Mind that cannot, and does not, include a single false belief. This is our standpoint for recognizing mortal suggestions as illegitimate impositions on the peace and harmony that are man’s birthright as a child of God.

We have a duty to God to resist any suggestion that is not from Him.

I have experienced the blessings of praying from this basis two years ago. I began to feel a toothache in the region of one of my molars. It began mildly, but soon it became very painful to the point of my being unable to do any chewing on the left side of my mouth, and I had to confine my meals to a strictly liquid diet. I earnestly sought to spiritualize my concept of substance and identity, to understand that all being is spiritual, not material; that God is all-knowing, and because He knows nothing of pain, neither could I, His image and likeness. Also, I specifically denied any thought as real that would legitimize the material condition. Yet the pain persisted. 

Wanting relief, I called a Christian Science practitioner for spiritual treatment, which she agreed to begin at once. At the same time, I was wondering what to do about an appointment I had previously made with my dentist for X-rays following a dental checkup a month earlier. Thinking about this upcoming appointment, I speculated about what the dentist might find from the X-rays.

But as I continued praying, it became increasingly clear that this avenue of thinking was based on the belief that we are mortal and, therefore, vulnerable to decay and infection. I began to be more alert to defend myself from such a suggestion. Each time it came to me, I countered it with the truth that as the reflection of God I am spiritual, having only the substance and condition of Spirit. As God’s creation, I am susceptible only to God, good, and not to material conditions. 

I saw that the challenge I was facing was in thought, and not physical, and had to be treated in thought. This recognition was the turning point. It became clear that I should immediately cancel the appointment, which I did. 

Within a day or two, the pain abated and soon disappeared. My eating since then has been normal, with no discomfort at all from chewing.

In Second Corinthians Paul reminds us that our battle is always on a spiritual level: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (10:3–5). 

In other words, we have a duty to God to resist any suggestion that is not from Him—to yield every thought that comes to us to Mind’s divine authority. We might ask ourselves: “Are our thoughts matter-based or God-based? Are they tending to pull us down or lift us up toward healing?” Our earnest listening to God for spiritual truth, for what He is telling us, is our best defense against the suggestion that we are somehow separated from God and are vulnerable mortals. The reward for this spiritual defense is dominion over the material senses, a spiritual authority and feeling of oneness with God.

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