The written word has always been a powerful influence in human affairs, often molding the character and behavior of entire generations. Books, in particular, are notable for their impact on society.
Over the years I've met people who mentioned that certain books had literally changed their lives. But I never quite believed them. I knew, of course, that books can improve our lives. But can a book fundamentally change a life? It's clear to me now that it can. Words express ideas, and ideas alter views. What we believe regarding morality, religion, marriage, race, politics, will certainly determine not only our behavior but the sort of career we'll have, the marriage partner we may choose, and so forth.
Undoubtedly the most influential book of all time is the Holy Bible. It would not be far-fetched to assume that it has wrought more changes in more lives than any book known. Still, some may ask, how can the Bible, which many people regard as nothing more than historical literature, transform lives? How can it, as some believe, heal disease as well as sin?
The inspired message of the Bible reveals the true nature of God and man, and this understanding, in contrast with man-made beliefs about God, heals and regenerates. It awakens thought to the absolute supremacy of God, of good, and to man's actual status as His cared-for, satisfied offspring.
Jesus defined the nature of Deity when he declared, ''God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.'' n1 The Bible also teaches that God is infinite. This means that despite appearances, Spirit, not matter, really fills all space. Moreover, the first chapter of Genesis specifically states that man is made in the image of God. So the man of God's creation isn't truly a material organism but rather a spiritual being, reflecting the substance of Spirit. Our actual, God-created selfhood, therefore, is indestructible, free from sin and disease.
n1 John 4:24.
Many devout Bible students have been restored to healthy, happy lives as a result of discerning and accepting the spiritual meaning of the Scriptures. They have proved the promises of the Bible.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, glimpsed the spiritual reality revealed in the Scriptures, and the insight she gained was so transforming that it not only healed her of a severe physical difficulty but led to her discovery of the divine Principle of the Master's healing ministry.
Her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook of Christian Science, has certainly changed lives. Its final chapter, called ''Fruitage,'' contains one hundred pages of testimonies in which people tell of being physically and morally healed as a result of reading Science and Health.
''When understanding changes the standpoints of life and intelligence from a material to a spiritual basis,'' Mrs. Eddy explains, ''we shall gain the reality of Life, the control of Soul over sense, and we shall perceive Christianity, or Truth, in its divine Principle.'' n2
n2 Science and Health, p. 322.
In order for any book to truly change us, we must be receptive, ready for the transformation. Such receptivity is a humble, childlike state of thought that yearns to know God better. It illustrates obedience to the Master's command, ''Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'' n3
n3 Matthew 18:3.
The kingdom of heaven, as Jesus taught, is within reach of each one of us because it is a Godlike state of consciousness, not a locality. We can claim and enjoy it increasingly through regeneration and purification of thought. Such purification, or spiritualization, can rebuild our lives on a higher, happier basis. The very first day I began the study of Christian Science our family witnessed several quick healings. But most of all, as the weeks went on there was noticeable change in me. Supposedly inherited dispositional tendencies gave way, and more of my true, Christlike nature as God's child began to shine through.
The Bible and Science and Health, I've learned, open not only mental doors but spiritual doors as well. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4