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Is the word God a turnoff?

From the teen series: Trending - September 29, 2020

TeenConnect: Trending

Hardly anyone in the Christian Science Sunday School class I teach ever mentioned the word God.

“Why?” I finally asked them.

“That word is confusing,” one of the students told me. 

Never mind that she was raised in the Christian Science Sunday School and had heard the word God used in a positive way all her life. She had friends at school who talked about God in ways that didn’t work for her. God was often defined as a person, a “big dude” somewhere far away. Even knowing that God loved her still made her feel like she was dealing with a person of some kind, rather than the divine infinite. 

As a result of this lack of clarity, the word God felt confusing, and even meaningless, to her. But while this student wasn’t comfortable using this term, she certainly didn’t want to be anti-God. So she had to redefine for herself exactly what God is.

What did make sense to her was to think of God as Love, as all good, as Mind. In other words, she was good with thinking of other names for God, or qualities of God—of the substance and essence of what God is—so she could feel that God isn’t something abstract, but something real.

How can we feel that God isn’t something abstract, but something real?

Mary Baker Eddy emphasizes this point when she asks in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “What is God?” (p. 465). Notice that she doesn’t say “who” but “what.” Then she goes on to define God with synonyms and attributes that reveal God as not a corporeal person but spiritual and ever present, bringing God into view as close and real. 

It’s essential to understand the nature of God if we want to see healing in our lives. Healing results from “getting”—understanding—God. This “getting” isn’t an intellectual thing. It’s a deep-down awareness of the underlying infinite good that is the foundation and substance of our being. The neat thing about this is that as we become more aware of this good, we not only “get” God, but also start to get what we really are as the evidence of divine good. As this understanding deepens, we become so convinced of what’s true that we simply aren’t fooled by the bad stuff like sickness, drama, or pain. This is the place where healing happens.

Trying to define a supreme, omnipresent source of good in ways that make sense is no easy job. But it is important. There are a lot of words that are used to mean God. Words are helpful, but they are limited. What we’re after is to know God as a “feel.”

We can know God in a more close-up way by taking an idea about God that resonates and letting it expand as we think about it.

So how can we know God in this more close-up way? For me, it helps to take an idea about God that resonates with me and let it expand as I think about it. 

For example, when I was in college and had to write papers, I really focused on God as intelligence. (I’d just learned about Christian Science and had not been getting good grades.) Before writing a paper, I would allow my thought to expand into that infinite space where intelligence is All and where I could see clearly that there is no room for limitation or unintelligence. I knew that divine Mind is the source of all intelligence, and that that has to include me. Then the papers would almost write themselves. And I did really well. 

In this situation, instead of using the word God, I thought of Mind, because that was relatable and helped God feel more real and understandable to me. One of the beauties of Christian Science is that it gives us many ways to find God for ourselves. 

The bottom line is that we don’t need to get tripped up by what other people mean by God. What really matters is what this wonderful, all-loving, ever-available source of good means to us and how we put that understanding into practice in our lives.

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