Watchfulness: What is it really about?
Several times in the Gospels, Jesus counseled people to cultivate watchfulness. He said pointedly to his disciples, “What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mark 13:37).
What is this watching about, and why is it so important? Christian Science teaches that what we accept as true and real markedly affects all that we experience. It is vital, then, to be watchful and embrace in thought only that which is valid and promotive of good in our lives and in the world.
While the world’s landscape of events warrants careful surveillance, consciousness is the crucial place to practice moment-by-moment watching—whether events and needs are personal or global in nature. Then, we can discern between what is valid or true and what is not. The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, observes, “To be delivered from believing in what is unreal, from fearing it, following it, or loving it, one must watch and pray that he enter not into temptation—even as one guards his door against the approach of thieves” (Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 14).
Through learning what is real and adhering to it, we are delivered from fearing that which is unreal—that which has no intelligent cause. Christian Science has revealed to the world a great truth: All real existence is composed of God and God’s expression or manifestation, and includes no opposites. God is utterly and wholly good, and we exist to show forth this divine goodness as His expression, one with Him. As the first book of the Bible states, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). What He made specifically includes you, me, and everyone.
Since God, good, is All, He possesses all power, and there is no power left over for evil to possess. The word evil doesn’t represent a presence. It is simply a term for the apparent absence of God, good. That which is insubstantial cannot act. In watchful prayer, we can apprehend more and more evil’s powerlessness, and gladly lose belief in it.
Spiritual watchfulness, then, isn’t really protecting ourselves from threats so much as knowing that God, good, is all that is present, all that exists. In doing this, we are more than protecting; we are defending our thoughts. Defending them from real evil? No, we are watchfully defending consciousness from believing that evil can be real.
Every Sentinel cover includes Jesus’ admonition “What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” A tremendously effective print, online, and audio tool for helping people pay attention to thought, the Sentinel helps readers and listeners to recognize more clearly that all the power that exists is owned by God. And God would never relinquish or share His ownership of power.
We don’t need to request access to God’s power. It is ours as God’s reflection, so it is natural for us to accept all that it involves and includes. We, as God’s spiritual creations, are always one with divine power. By carefully watching our thought, we can rejoice in the clear consciousness of God’s continuing all-power.
Consciousness is the place to practice moment-by-moment watching in order to discern between what is valid or true and what is not.
I remember that when I was in college, it was very common for my fellow students and me to hear that our country’s struggling economy nearly precluded the possibility of finding a good job after graduation. It wasn’t long before I felt the weight of this depressing perspective and began, unwittingly, to accept it. Then, a heartening article in an issue of the Sentinel woke me up. I will never forget it. It was titled “Man includes all right ideas,” and the author explained that “good is not something way off. It is not ‘out there.’ It is right at hand. Within. The real you and me, God’s reflection, includes every right, spiritual idea” (Gladys C. Girard, February 26, 1977).
Knowing these spiritual facts encouraged and enabled me to defend myself from repeated predictions of scarcity and of an inevitable lack of opportunity. The ideas in that article became like a refreshing stream in an oasis for me, and I returned often to drink them in. Not only did I find satisfying employment after college but I also found it in the summers while still in school.
What is a sure approach for watching thought? Mrs. Eddy instructs, “To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 160).
Consciousness that is in tune with “the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal” inevitably becomes more fearless. All fear comes under the umbrella of belief that there is a power other than God and that this supposed power has the ability to act. Again, active evil power, thankfully, is fiction. God is infinite, omni-active good, continuously filling all space. The only acting power, then, is God’s potency. When we catch ourselves doing things right—watchfully keeping “consciousness in constant relation with the divine”—we can rejoice.
From the vantage point of this solid, perceptive watchfulness, we calmly recognize that we, along with the world, are imbued only with God’s goodness. In relation with God, we understand our continuing spiritual invulnerability. Jesus knew this comforting fact and told his disciples, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19).
Following Jesus’ counsel, we can move watchfully through each hour, thought by thought, filled to overflowing only with God’s healing and cleansing goodness and truth.