EVERY autumn and winter we're warned through the media of cold and flu season. Advertisements, for example, either assume that we already have these ailments or that it is inevitable that we will suffer from them--or from some other contagious disease. As a result, wives may tell husbands, ``Don't kiss me. You've got a cold.'' Or children are warned not to play with the neighbors' kids for the same reason. There's nothing wrong with common sense regarding such matters, but do we have to become sick just because other people are? Consider Christ Jesus' example. Although he had contact with many sick people, including those with contagious diseases, he did not become ill. He was fearless before disease and filled with compassion for those who were suffering.
``People believe in infectious and contagious diseases, and that any one is liable to have them under certain predisposing or exciting causes,'' writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. ``This mental state prepares one to have any disease whenever there appear the circumstances which he believes produce it.'' She says a little later, ``A calm, Christian state of mind is a better preventive of contagion than a drug, or than any other possible sanative method; and the `perfect Love' that `casteth out fear' is a sure defense.''1 Fear, the expectation that one ``must'' get sick because he has been exposed to others who are ill, and maybe even a feeling of superiority because he hasn't become ill, are states of thought that foster rather than prevent disease. So, too, is the feeling that one's protection is in a certain diet. Not one of these really expresses a ``calm, Christian state of mind,'' because each is based on the premise that man is material, encased not just in a material body but in a world where mortality is the norm and immortality is unprovable.
Certainly, material existence with its ills seems synonymous with reality. Yet Christ Jesus' ``calm, Christian state of mind'' points beyond the material picture to Spirit, God. Unmoved by fear, certain that he did not have to get sick because God, his Father, was the only power, the Master moved among those who were ill and healed them. But what does his unparalleled example have to do with us? Everything, because it tells us how we can begin freeing ourselves from sickness.
The first step is fearlessness. The Bible tells us, ``There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.''2 Fearlessness naturally results from an understanding that God is Love itself and that man--your and my true nature--is completely spiritual and inseparable from the Father. This loving Parent does not cause or permit His children to be sick, and His offspring are inseparable from Him, always under His care. Our need is to realize this truth, to see it as a divine law governing our lives.
Yet the perfect love that dissolves fear is not limited to knowing that God is with us. We also need to feel and express love for our fellowman. Loving one's neighbor means recognizing that his true being is spiritual, the child of the one God, who gives only good. This supportive atmosphere can do much to alleviate others' suffering while also making us less prone to contagion. Why? Simply because we are not allowing ourselves to be sucked into the material whirl where disease purports to be inevitable. We are instead recognizing to a degree the spiritual fact that we live in Spirit and not in matter. Is this practical? Yes, indeed. Although I used to spend every winter feeling terrible and was never really free from colds, after I began to study Christian Science they diminished substantially. Then recently, for a period of nearly two years, I had no colds--until I began to feel self-righteous about that fact! When I realized what I was doing, the symptoms faded quickly. All of this despite exposure to others who were sometimes quite ill.
Disease is not inevitable. It's not, in the final analysis, real, because God never made it. Through claiming in prayer our spiritual identity as God's children, inseparable from His love, we can prove this to be so.
1Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 228-229. 2I John 4:18. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. Psalms 91:9,10