Closing the door on a mistaken concept of ourselves is an essential element of Christian healing. In the Bible we read, “Put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and … put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24).
How can we put off the corrupt, inaccurate view of man as material and put on the new man, the true understanding of ourselves as spiritual? Many accounts of healing in the Bible give us a sense of how we can do this, and show that an important early step in healing includes shutting the door on error, on the belief that we are material. For example, when Peter, a disciple of Christ Jesus, was in the company of mourners, he had to “put them all forth”—or put out of thought negative opinions and fears that man must die—before he could raise Tabitha from the dead (see Acts 9:36–42).
An important early step in healing includes shutting the door on error, on the belief that we are material.
The prophet Elisha told a widow who was in debt, and had nothing in her house but a pot of oil, to “go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full” (II Kings 4:3, 4). She did pour oil into all those vessels, and she was able to sell the oil to pay her debts. Reading this story, I have concluded that first she had to shut the door on suggestions of material lack, inadequacy, and fear. After she had shut those all out, she was able to recognize the truth of God’s love for her and demonstrate it in her life.
Later, Elisha raised from death a Shunammite woman’s son, and to do so he first went in to where the child was “and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord” (II Kings 4:33). As I have read this story, I have been struck with the sense that Elisha had to be definite with the picture of death, not allowing the belief of death into consciousness, so that he could demonstrate the fact that God is our Life.
Jesus, as well, “put them all out”—put out those who were weeping about the death of Jairus’ daughter (see Luke 8:49–56). Knowing that she was not dead, Jesus expelled those who believed otherwise, took the daughter by the hand, and told her to arise; then, as the Bible says, “Her spirit came again, and she arose straightway.”
It is important to shut the door on material belief and the chatter of evil suggestions such as fear, discouragement, pain, and disappointment. Shutting the door on error, however, is only step one. We must also open the door to Truth. As Jesus taught, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6). And in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy interprets that passage: “The closet typifies the sanctuary of Spirit, the door of which shuts out sinful sense but lets in Truth, Life, and Love. Closed to error, it is open to Truth, and vice versa” (p. 15).
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
In silencing evil, we are also acknowledging and recognizing the presence of God, good. We are opening the door to Spirit, and are able to perceive and understand what is spiritually true and real, what is made by God, what divine Love has given us.
It is essential that we turn insistently toward the open door of Christian Science, which Jesus demonstrated in his healing career. We must courageously and wholeheartedly accept the truth of our being as the spiritual idea of divine Love—the true idea of man as born of Spirit. As we accept this “new man” and acknowledge the truth of our being, we begin to perceive and demonstrate more of the kingdom of heaven on earth. We wake up to the ever-presence of God’s qualities of harmony, perfection, order, and love, and we see them reflected in our own lives and find healing.
Many years ago, I learned the power and necessity of shutting the door on the material senses and opening the door to Truth. I went skiing on a bright sunny day, but I chose not to wear sunglasses. I didn’t want to have a tan line from the glasses and look like an owl! Back in the hotel room that night, my vision became blurred. I was most uncomfortable, since any light caused pain in my eyes.
I crawled into bed prepared to suffer for the night because of my foolishness and vanity. My husband said to me, “Do you think we should pray?” Well, I had already determined that I must suffer for being a foolish and vain mortal, so I concluded that I did not have a right to pray. But then I realized that what I actually needed to do was to shut the door on the entire material picture.
As the expression of divine Love, as God’s beloved daughter always under His tender care, I had a right to put out of thought the entire picture of a foolish, damaged, suffering mortal. I had divine authority to deny the reality and validity of that mortal picture, or dream. God never made a foolish and vain mortal, so I could not be one. I affirmed that I am God’s spiritual idea, forever undamaged, the apple of His eye.
We must courageously and wholeheartedly accept the truth of our being as the spiritual idea of divine Love.
Once I recognized my birthright as God’s idea, and put the entire material picture out of thought, I began to make room for spiritual truth to flood thought, and I could more clearly discern and understand the accurate picture of divine Love’s complete care for me. I sincerely and humbly lifted my thought to the reality of what God knew of me as His image and of how God was keeping me safe and whole. I realized that Love is all-powerful and ever present, and that Love would never permit one of its ideas to be hurt. Just as my human parents had always protected and cared for me when I was a child, divine Love, my omnipresent and omnipotent Father-Mother, was always keeping me safe from harm.
As I prayed in this way, the pain stopped immediately. This healing of the pain inspired me to keep the door shut on the entire mortal dream that I was ever outside the care of divine Love, Mind, Spirit. I continued to cherish this spiritual understanding, even after my vision cleared up a few days later.
When we shut the door on error and keep our hand in the Father’s, when we cling to the truth, then the Christ, conveying to us God’s great love for us, breaks the hypnotic belief in the power of matter. Science and Health instructs us: “When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought” (p. 495). When we are obedient to this direction, then error is shut out of consciousness as well as out of our experience, and we find healing and freedom.
Shutting the door on matter-based thinking allows us to accept and understand God’s man, the spiritual expression of God’s being. The divine influence of the Christ gives us the strength and inspiration we need to put off the old man—the false belief that we are material. Then divine Love opens to us the spiritual understanding of the omnipotence of good and reveals the new man, our true identity, as the loved idea of Love.
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