Unchanging good

The wisdom of the Bible assures us of the changelessness and permanence of God and His creation.

One of my favorite Christian Science hymns begins with these reassuring words: 

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In heavenly Love abiding, 
      No change my heart shall fear; 
And safe is such confiding, 
      For nothing changes here.
      —Anna L. Waring, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 148

Recently, it struck me how central this idea of immutability is to spiritual growth and harmonious existence.

How often do we catch ourselves thinking that if only something would change—the weather, another person’s behavior, our financial situation, the political climate, our health, etc.—everything would be all right? But would it be? About seventy percent of lottery winners end up insolvent within a few years (see George Loewenstein, “Five Myths about the Lottery,” Washington Post, December 27, 2019). Millennia of wars, famines, plagues, and civil unrest attest to the sad fact that limited, material approaches to solving humanity’s problems don’t lead to truly satisfying or lasting solutions.

I rejoice in the great harmony and peace that characterize God’s universe, the true realm of all of us.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is often credited with saying, “Change is the only constant in life,” and indeed the world at times can appear to be one restless sea. Each day we may turn to the news to discover what has changed from the previous day: fashion trends, armed conflicts, health advice, natural disasters, corporate scandals. Yet while change might seem incessant and inescapable, the wisdom of the Bible paints a very different picture, assuring us of the changelessness and permanence of God and His creation, including each one of us. For instance, in Malachi we read, “I am the Lord, I change not” (3:6). And the book of James says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (1:17).

In her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, gives “the scientific statement of being,” a consummate declaration of the Truth that forever dispels the notion that anything mutable or temporal can come from Spirit, God, or be part of our experience: “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual” (p. 468). 

Years ago, I was surprised to discover that a submarine can escape the tumult of a stormy ocean surface and find relative calm simply by diving deeper beneath the waves. I often recall this fact whenever I feel tossed by mental or emotional waves—thoughts that are frenzied, frustrated, angry, hopeless, or fearful—and I rejoice in the certainty that just beyond these unsettling and discordant suggestions are the great harmony and peace that characterize God’s universe, the true realm of all of us. But how do we unite with this peaceful state amid the tempests that seem to plague daily existence? 

Thankfully, Christ Jesus left us his example. When confronted by a storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus’ spiritual confidence allowed him to see beyond the illusion of discord to the unchanging reality of God’s omnipresence and divine order (see Mark 4:36–39). Eddy explains: “Jesus of Nazareth was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause” (Science and Health, p. 313). Elsewhere she says: “Jesus walked on the waves, fed the multitude, healed the sick, and raised the dead in direct opposition to material laws. His acts were the demonstration of Science, overcoming the false claims of material sense or law” (Science and Health, p. 273). 

In like manner, we, too, can plunge beneath the persuasive façade of material law to seek the still, pure, divine reality of spiritual law—the heavenly truth unknown to the physical senses but discerned by spiritual sense, which Eddy defines as our “conscious, constant capacity to understand God” (Science and Health, p. 209).

To do this, we must strive to keep our consciousness so immersed in divine Truth, spiritual reality, that nothing can propel us into the turbulent dream of material life. This mental work involves monitoring and correcting thoughts that are spiritually untrue (e.g., anything limited, material, imperfect, discordant, or changeable) and understanding and accepting what we have learned through our spiritual study to be real (that which is good, just, pure, infinite, harmonious, and permanent). 

While traveling some years ago, I was alarmed one day by how quickly I started manifesting flu-like symptoms. At lunchtime I felt fine; by dinner, I was in bed with a runny nose and dizziness. But as it turned out, my rapid physical deterioration served as a wake-up call. As I thought about my healthy state just hours earlier, the absurdity of the symptoms—which I knew had nothing to do with God or my true being—became clear. God is the constant, the unwavering Rock of our existence; anything else, including a fever or chills, was a false suggestion claiming to shake my understanding of God. 

I clung to this spiritual certainty for the rest of the evening, particularly when the symptoms were aggressive, and went to sleep that night quietly humming Hymn 148 from the Hymnal. I awoke the next morning refreshed and well, and it wasn’t until early afternoon that I even remembered the challenge of the previous evening.

This conscious understanding of God’s constancy is a powerful reminder of life’s purpose, of our divine privilege to love God with all our heart and soul and to love our neighbor as ourself—to bear witness to God’s glorious truth and to joyfully abide under His protective care, governance, and benevolence. Spiritual understanding, faith, and love are the means by which we anchor ourselves in the midst of what can appear to be the ceaseless variation and uncertainty of so-called mortal existence. They are what insulate us from the influences that would discourage and defeat us. They are how we avail ourselves of the undreamed-of blessings and goodness of a truly Spirit-centered, immovable life. They are, indeed, the way of Life everlasting.

The Story of Jonah
February 20, 2023

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