"MY FAVORITE TEXT"
"The First Commandment is my favorite text," writes Mary Baker Eddy in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 340). And she continues: "It demonstrates Christian Science. It inculcates the triunity of God, Spirit, Mind; it signifies that man shall have no other spirit or mind but God, eternal good, and that all men shall have one Mind. The divine Principle of the First Commandment bases the Science of being, by which man demonstrates health, holiness, and life eternal."
Many of us are familiar with the words of the First Commandment, given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex. 20:3), "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Mrs. Eddy had a profound knowledge of both the Old and the New Testaments; and out of all her study and experience she chose this particular verse as her favorite. She uses it four times in Science and Health—in every case accompanied by some strong basic declaration of the truth—and refers to it many times in her other writings.
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Let us examine the nature of God and the nature of man. We have learned through our study of Christian Science that God is incorporeal, omnipotent Being—Life, Truth, Love, Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle. In the first chapter of Genesis we learn that God made man in His own image and likeness. Therefore man, as God's own image, can be conscious only of that of which God Himself is conscious. Otherwise, he would not be God's image and likeness. Man, made in the image and likeness of Love, can be conscious only of Love. He cannot be conscious of fear or hatred. Man, made in the likeness of Mind, cannot know ignorance. Man, made in the image of Life, can only be conscious of Life. Man cannot be conscious of anything unlike God, his creator; therefore he cannot have another god.
Why is it imperative for us to have no other gods? And why has the First Commandment been brought so definitely to our notice? There are clear indications in the Bible of the evils which befell mankind through a belief in strange gods. In Isaiah we read (43:12), "I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God."
How well the children of Israel had learned the necessity of having no other gods during their journey from Egypt to the promised land! Moses' stern condemnation of Aaron for allowing the building and worship of golden calf, and the subsequent punishments the children of Israel suffered, left them in no doubt as to the sin they had committed.
If we were presented today with an idol of wood or stone, we would very quickly and somewhat indignantly repudiate the suggestion that we could even think of worshiping an object of this description. But we sometimes allow strange gods to enter into our experience. What about the very strange gods of fear, lack, ignorance, sin, disease, death?
In II Corinthians Paul writes (10:3-5), "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." Are not these imaginations that exalt themselves "against the knowledge of God" strange gods or other gods? It is our duty as loyal children of God to eliminate these gods by bringing every though into captivity "to the obedience of Christ."
We are also told in Philippians (2:5) that we must let that Mind be in us which was in Christ Jesus. Could the Mind which was in Christ Jesus possibly be conscious of poverty, ignorance, sin, disease, death? Yet we sometimes busy ourselves with these other gods.
How are we to destroy these socalled gods? It might be interesting and profitable to have a close look at them. We shall notice at once that they have one feature in common. They all lack good in some form. Poverty is a belief in lack of substance; ignorance, lack of knowledge; death, of life; disease, of wholeness; sin, of purity. When these negative beliefs or other gods, are faced with the somethingness of good—of Mind, Life, and Love—their supposed existence is wiped out. Every negative belief must disappear before the positive facts of Truth.
How does divine Principle operate on our behalf to enable us to demonstrate "health, holiness, and life eternal"? The answer is given in Science and Health in Mrs. Eddy's reply to the question (p. 467), "What are the demands of the Science of Soul?" Our Leader's reply is: "The first demand of this Science is, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' This me is Spirit. Therefore the command means this: Thou shalt have no intelligence, no life, no substance, no truth, no love, but that which is spiritual."
At the end of the paragraph, Mrs. Eddy states, "Having no other gods, turning to no other but the one perfect Mind to guide him, man is the likeness of God, pure and eternal, having that Mind which was also in Christ."
When Jesus, in his tenderness and compassion, was confronted by the hungry multitudes who had been listening to his teachings, he never for one moment accepted the belief of a strange god of lack or insufficiency. He looked up to heaven, and he knew that the all-encompassing Father-Mother God, Spirit, is sufficient to meet all needs. The Master's understanding of the ever-presence of Love's abundance destroyed the belief of lack.
In the same way, at the time of the apparent death of his friend Lazarus, Jesus beheld the uninterrupted continuity and indestructible eternality of God, Life, his creator and Father. This clear vision destroyed the falsity of the belief of death, or other god.
The revelation of Christian Science has come to us in this age through Mrs. Eddy. There are on record countless examples of healings which have taken place through the understanding of the perfection of God and man as taught in Christian Science, whose teachings are based solely on the Bible, especially on the words and works of Christ Jesus.
The following incident gives an example of Truth's healing power. When she was still quite young, a woman who had experienced much physical suffering found that her hair had lost its color. The condition lasted for a period of over twenty years. While having help from a consecrated Christian Science practitioner about a problem connected with her work, she was led to study these words (Eccl. 3:15): "God requireth that which is past."
She saw that, as a spiritual idea, as the image and likeness of God, good, she could only be conscious of good. Therefore, all she could retain of any experience was the spiritual understanding she had gained while passing through it, and nothing else could possibly remain. In other words, she obeyed Mrs. Eddy's words, quoted earlier, "Thou shalt have no intelligence, no life, no substance, no truth, no love, but that which is spiritual." A few weeks later, she was told quite unexpectedly by her hairdresser that a miracle had taken place. Her hair was turning back to its normal color.
The other god, the belief in material cause and effect, was replaced by the spiritual understanding of man as the image and likeness of Love, held always in the law of Love. This understanding dispelled the former inharmonious physical condition. Needless to say, the problem regarding work was healed at the same time.
Both Jesus and Mrs. Eddy linked the injunction, "Love thy neighbour as thyself" with the First Commandment (see Mark 12:31 and Science and Health, p. 340). Why is this? Because we cannot claim the Mind that was in Christ Jesus for ourselves without realizing that we must include all mankind in this declaration of the truth. Love can only know love. Love can only be conscious of itself. It cannot know hatred, envy, malice, jealousy, fear, or war.
In "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" Mrs. Eddy says (p. 279), "The First Commandment in the Hebrew Decalogue—'Thou shalt have no other gods before me'—obeyed, is sufficient to still all strife." She continues farther on, "God is Father, infinite, and this great truth, when understood in its divine metaphysics, will establish the brotherhood of man, end wars, and demonstrate 'on earth peace, good will toward men.' "