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Learn to defend yourself … spiritually

From the March 12, 2018 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Would you like to be a healer? Learn to defend your thought. 

That’s a key instruction the Discoverer of Christian Science gives throughout her writings. So important did Mary Baker Eddy consider the daily defense of one’s thought that she included a By-Law about it on page 42 of the Manual of The Mother Church titled “Alertness to Duty.” The By-Law, though addressed to members of her Church, is good advice for anyone. It reads: “It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not be made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind. By his works he shall be judged,—and justified or condemned.”

What is aggressive mental suggestion? It is the assertion that something other than God, good, is real and powerful. The suggestion often comes in the guise of our own thinking, including impressions from the material senses. 

The fourth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel gives an interesting example of aggressive mental suggestion and how Christ Jesus defended himself against it (see verses 1–11). After fasting for many days in the wilderness, Jesus was hungry. The thought came to him, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” But he replied, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” 

Evil can take no root in thought when we are alert to our duty to defend ourselves against it.

The account continues with two more temptations to act on a suggestion that life and substance are material, but in each case Jesus saw the falsehood that was being presented and countered it with Scripture affirming that we are to worship God and serve Him alone. Then, Matthew tells us, the temptations stopped and “angels came and ministered unto him.”

Defending our thought against the wiles of mortal suggestion is a subject that is handled thoroughly during Christian Science class instruction, a course that generally includes 12 sessions and explains the laws of God and how to heal as Christ Jesus did. I had an opportunity to prove how effective this defense is in healing when I was preparing to attend the annual meeting of my Christian Science students’ association. In my new position as secretary, I was part of the team organizing the event. After staying up past midnight to finish some last-minute details, I lay down to sleep but was frightened by sudden, excruciating chest pains accompanied by other distressing symptoms. 

Reaching out to God for help, I recognized that these symptoms weren’t coming from the divine Mind, which expresses only health and harmony; they were simply mortal beliefs suggesting that I was outside of God’s loving care and control. 

In that moment an angel message came to me: “What a great way to start your association—with a healing!” I was surprised at this thought, and equally surprised at how quickly the fear and pain drained away. I easily fell asleep, and although I didn’t have a full night’s rest, I was not tired when I awoke but felt refreshed and ready for the day. 

As I do each morning, I prayed to defend myself against aggressive mental suggestion. One thought nagging at me was that I was the “glue” of the meeting, personally responsible for holding the logistical details together and making things run smoothly. I countered that with my understanding that God is in control of all and is unfolding everything in perfect harmony. My duty was to stick to the divine Truth, to “hold fast that which is good,” as First Thessalonians puts it (5:21). Evil can take no root in thought nor bear fruit when we are alert to our duty to defend ourselves against it. 

How could illness be real when God is the only cause, and man is God’s effect?

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Eddy writes, “The fowls, which fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven, correspond to aspirations soaring beyond and above corporeality to the understanding of the incorporeal and divine Principle, Love” (pp. 511–512). I reasoned that soaring aspirations, conscious only of divine Truth, are our defense against evil suggestions, in whatever guise. 

As we had planned, I drove myself and two fellow association members to the city where our meeting was to be held, a four-hour trip. We arrived at our destination, and after setting up the church for the next day’s meeting, I went to the hotel room I shared with my friend. As I spoke with her briefly before going to bed, I felt a sore throat coming upon me as fiercely as the chest pain had come the night before. 

“Oh no!” I thought. “How will I speak tomorrow?” However, I immediately recognized this as another aggressive mental suggestion, and I refused to allow it to dissuade me from the good that was unfolding. I was not worried or afraid, because I knew the physical symptom was a lie that had no power. How could illness be real when God is the only cause, and man is God’s effect? It can’t be. The soreness in my throat disappeared almost as quickly as it arrived.

All went well with our association meeting, which was uplifting and wonderful. And my healings were indeed a great way to start the association meeting!

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