Righteous Rejoicing

No one can know, without having had the experience, what a joyful relief comes to those who through Christian Science treatment have been set free from physical ailments after they have searched in vain for healing through material methods. Very closely akin to this sense of joy is that expressed by the young student of Christian Science who has successfully applied his knowledge of the truth and has been enabled to bring relief to those in physical distress. It was no doubt joy of this nature that filled the hearts of the seventy disciples when they returned to Jesus from their healing mission and exclaimed, "Even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." One can well imagine their receiving with some surprise the gentle rebuke administered by the Master when he said, "In this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."

In his rebuke Jesus was pointing out a danger, and the warnings given by him then are valuable to us now. What was the lesson intended? It was not the rejoicing which he rebuked, but the cause of rejoicing. Neither can we suppose that Jesus meant to minimize the importance of healing disease and casting out evils, since he had already pointed to these very effects as a proof of his divine authority. Why was their rejoicing at fault? Jesus taught very clearly that while physical harmony and material supply resulted from the better sense of the divine presence which he imparted, the purpose of his life-work was by no means to bring ease and gratification to material sense. Their rejoicing evidently indicated that they were attaching undue importance to the material, physical effects, and that this led to the obscuration of the spiritual facts which produced them.

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It is a poor evidence of progress when one stops to admire the product of his work. If he has the proper breadth of conception, he will but regard his present accomplishment as an evidence of that greater achievement upon which his heart is fixed. Pride in accomplishment evidences a lack of maturity. The music pupil may practise his lesson in order to show how well he can play it, but the musician is reaching out far beyond his production to ideals that as yet he cannot outwardly express. So is it with the student who has reached beyond the first steps in Christian Science: he ceases to wonder at or find his joy in the mere physical healing, which he learns to regard as a matter of course, as the natural result of his higher understanding of what is far more important and substantial.

In Science and Health (p. 150) Mrs. Eddy writes: "The mission of Christian Science now, as in the time of its earlier demonstration, is not primarily one of physical healing. Now, as then, signs and wonders are wrought in the metaphysical healing of physical disease; but these signs are only to demonstrate its divine origin,—to attest the reality of the higher mission of the Christ-power to take away the sins of the world." The testimonies of those who are healed in Christian Science show that these higher results desired by our Leader are being realized in large measure.

The chief cause for rejoicing, Jesus pointed out to his disciples, was that their names were written in heaven. The name stands for the individual, the entity of the individual is his consciousness, and heaven is the higher type or spiritual sense of being; hence to rejoice because their names were written in heaven was to find their joy in spiritual consciousness, a right sense of relation to their divine source. Here Jesus unfolded a great vital truth. There are times when Christian Scientists feel impatient and even discouraged because they are not treating cases of disease,—they love to be making people physically well. But is there not a danger lurking here? May not the desire to watch the healing of disease lead to a sense that the disease is something which needs healing, instead of an unreal condition which needs to be exposed as such?

When we see sickness and sin in the true light, we shall know them for what they are,—delusion, nothingness,—and one would hardly find great cause for rejoicing in the destruction of nothing. There is, however, much to rejoice over when we realize that it is because we appreciate more and understand better man's higher nature and our actual relation to the absolute truth of being, that we are liberated from the bondage of mortal sense. Then we can indeed rejoice because our "names are written in heaven," for with Paul we can say, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."

What seems so anomalous about Christian Science is that the practitioner does not heal disease by trying to heal it, and not infrequently the effort to accomplish the healing is just what gets in the way. The Scientist may find himself laboring under the sense of personal responsibility and an anxious fear, and this hinders the natural, quick results of Christian Science treatment. The cause of the anxiety or fear is generally the result of thought of the seeming diseased condition as serious, dangerous, complicated, difficult to treat. What says there is disease or a diseased condition? Is it not the mortal consciousness which holds man as subject to matter and evil conditions? This mortal sense, however, is the evil one which Jesus denounced as "a liar, and the father of it." The real source of man's being is spiritual and perfect, consequently no imperfect condition can emanate therefrom, and this is the chief contention of the Christian Science worker.

We are striving to realize the name written in heaven when we are turning from all false testimony and endeavoring to attain to the divine consciousness. Then we can rejoice, not in the fact that evil has been destroyed, but in the more perfect sense of life which has been gained. The appearing of this more spiritual vision to human sense is beautifully expressed by Mrs. Eddy in "Retrospection and Introspection" (p. 31), where she writes: "My heart bent low before the omnipotence of Spirit, and a tint of humility, soft as the heart of a moonbeam, mantled the earth. ... It was the gospel of healing, on its divinely appointed human mission, bearing on its white wings, to my apprehension, 'the beauty of holiness,' — even the possibilities of spiritual insight, knowledge, and being." Well might John write these words so familiar to Christian Scientists: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God."

Stars in the Firmament
February 5, 1916

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