Faith might seem to be the least of the elements of spiritual sense, but when rightly based on the omnipotent goodness of God, to whom all things are possible, faith is a powerful force for healing.
Jesus’ teachings and example show what an effective vehicle faith in God can be in moving things forward. When the disciples had been unable to heal a child with a dramatic case of convulsions, Jesus told the father, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” The father cried out, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:23, 24).
Faith in good was vying against fear of evil in the father’s and in the disciples’ thought. Jesus, understanding that the sickness was not in accord with divine law, asked the father to have faith only in a good outcome. Jesus demonstrated the power of such faith by healing the child.
It was not a blind faith that Jesus commended. It was a faith indissolubly connected to a loving God that he knew was all-powerful good. Jesus held himself and his students accountable for acting consistently with what they knew about God’s goodness. He also pointed out that false beliefs in the reality and power of evil hinder satisfactory results.
Without faith, you would never attempt anything that has not been done before.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, deeply explores the subject of faith in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes: “One kind of faith trusts one’s welfare to others. Another kind of faith understands divine Love and how to work out one’s ‘own salvation, with fear and trembling.’ ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!’ expresses the helplessness of a blind faith; whereas the injunction, ‘Believe … and thou shalt be saved!’ demands self-reliant trustworthiness, which includes spiritual understanding and confides all to God” (p. 23).
The first kind of faith is based on what many human minds might be thinking—one mind having faith in another mind or in something outside itself. The other kind of faith is based on an understanding of divine Love, the divine laws of goodness, and our inseparability from our creator. This Love is utterly trustworthy and consistently good, and it is natural for us to recognize our true nature as Love’s reflections—just like the original—and to be faithful and good.
Jesus commended a Roman centurion for having this kind of faith, saying it was greater than any he had found in Israel. And he healed the centurion’s servant (see Matthew 8:5–13). There was never a question in Jesus’ thought about whether it was God’s will for anyone to be healed. He knew that sickness was not sent by God.
When Jesus’ disciples asked him to increase their faith, he replied, “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you” (Luke 17:6).
Faith is like a mustard seed that starts out tiny but develops into a large shrub in which birds can lodge. Jesus didn’t need to increase the disciples’ faith, for they already had this growing mustard seed straight from God, and it was their job to tend and nurture this seedling.
Once, when I had been in bed with the flu for several days, my attention was arrested by a statement I read in Science and Health: “Having faith in the divine Principle of health and spiritually understanding God, sustains man under all circumstances; whereas the lower appeal to the general faith in material means (commonly called nature) must yield to the all-might of infinite Spirit” (p. 319).
I was encouraged by this thought of the divine Principle of health and decided that I should have enough faith in this fact to get out of bed and take care of some obligations I had that day. I got up, but a little later found that I could not stand without weakness, nausea, and dizziness. I sat down to pray, remembering the statement above. I thought: “If only I had more faith and understanding, then I would be well. But where does it come from when I don’t seem to have it?”
Immediately came the thought, “God gives you faith and understanding—enough to defend yourself from bodily suffering.” I saw that God gives faith and spiritual understanding to everyone; therefore, I had enough to meet my need that day. Leaning on the divine Principle of health and understanding the laws of God, I was immediately and completely well. I had also learned an important lesson about the nature of faith.
Just as a seed grows best in good soil with plenty of sunshine and rain, our faith in God’s laws of goodness grows within the soil of our own commitment and attention. If we tell ourselves that we understand the Science of Christ, and yet act contrary to this understanding, this undermines our trust and trustworthiness and may cause a delay in seeing the results of our prayer.
Faith and understanding work together. Without faith along with understanding, you would never attempt anything that has not been done before. Had the Wright brothers understood aerodynamics but not had faith in its reality and practicality, they would never have attempted to build, test, and fly an airplane.
According to Science and Health, “When we come to have more faith in the truth of being than we have in error, more faith in Spirit than in matter, more faith in living than in dying, more faith in God than in man, then no material suppositions can prevent us from healing the sick and destroying error” (p. 368).
The faith that heals the sick comes when the human mind yields to the divine Mind. This faith understands that we have but one perfectly reliable, universal Mind, who is God and from whom we can never be separated.
Faith that sees out from this Mind’s point of view knows the unfolding nature of good. It beholds the perfect man, where the sinner appears to mortals (see Science and Health, pp. 476–477). It sees the perfect day shining through the mist of mortality. And it ultimately expects to see this good fully manifested.
Faith is natural to a follower of Jesus and gratefully utilized by one who studies Christian Science. Faith that rests on true substance acts with real power to offset the woes of human existence with the joys of heaven on earth, here and now.
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