NOT long ago, a correspondent to our local newspaper referred to Christian healing as ``mumbo jumbo.'' Even though I have had many proofs in my own life of the effectiveness of Christian healing, I could easily understand how the writer could have come to that conclusion. When you look at the world around you and see so much that seems material, solid, and real, the thought that healing can come about through spiritual means could very well seem strange. So my feeling was more one of compassion than anything else.
Yet it is that very conviction that God is Spirit and man is Spirit's entirely good and loving crea-tion that allows students of Christian Science to challenge the belief that man is material. This certainty does not rest on human opinion or a helpless faith. It grows out of an understanding that God, good, is divine Principle, Love. This Principle is expressed on the human scene as a divine law that, when appealed to prayerfully, restores health, harmony, and order.
It is legitimate to ask how we can be sure that prayer is both intelligent and reliable. One element that appealed to me when I first learned about Christian healing is its roots in the Bible. The Gospels speak spe-cifically of Christ Jesus' healing works, which covered an amazing range of diseases, birth defects, and even included overcoming death.
Many people feel that these accomplishments were possible only for the Master. But Matthew's Gospel tells us that Jesus expected his followers to be healers. Speaking of Jesus, Matthew writes, ``And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease'' (10:1). That this gift was not limited to Jesus' immediate followers is shown in the book of Acts, which recounts healings brought about by Paul's prayers as well as those of others.
It is natural, then, for students of the Bible to take Christian healing seriously because of the insights it gives into the nature of God as totally good and of man as His spiritual idea, or reflection. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Dis- coverer of Christian Science, writes, ``Jesus aided in reconciling man to God by giving man a truer sense of Love, the divine Principle of Jesus' teachings, and this truer sense of Love redeems man from the law of matter, sin, and death by the law of Spirit,--the law of divine Love'' (p. 19).
We gain a deeper understanding of divine law as we are able to give up the belief that man is a material organism with a mind inside that can suffer, be sick or diseased, be subject to sin or death. To think this is what man is would be like looking at a distorted shadow of a tree or house and thinking that the shadow was the true image.
As the spiritual idea of God, man includes divinely bestowed qualities such as love, joy, peace, health, and purity. To whatever extent we can feel and express these elements and deepen our understanding of them, we are able to live out our true natures as the sons and daughters of God. And this understanding of ourselves and of God heals. Here is an example:
One morning I badly injured my hand while working in some bushes near our house. A branch dug into the space between my fingers, creating a rather deep wound. My first thought was a simple recognition that I am spiritual, the child of divine Love, and that I can never be separated from Love.
I then went inside, cleaned the debris out of the wound, and telephoned a Christian Science practitioner. Practitioners are individuals whose sole work is praying for people who ask for their help--whether or not they are Christian Scientists. When I called, the practitioner affirmed my own thought that as God's idea, or reflection, I was always at one with Him. She added that God's children are never subject to evil of any kind and assured me that in her prayers she would continue to affirm the power of divine law to remove any evidence of injury.
In less than an hour, the wound had begun to close. In fact, it gave me so little cause for concern at this point that when I heard some happy news from a friend I spontaneously clapped my hands and inadvertently opened the wound again. It quickly closed the second time, however, and it stayed shut. In less than a week--without a band-age or stitches to hold the skin together--the wound was completely knitted together, and it healed completely. Was this ``mumbo jumbo'' or ``blind luck''? No, it was the application of the same laws that Jesus used and taught his followers.
This is just one of many examples I and other Christian Scientists could give of ways that prayer has led to healing. Putting into practice the laws of God that Jesus taught enables us to prove that Christian healing is a practical, trustworthy, and reliable Science.
And he shewed me
a pure river of water of life,
clear as crystal, proceeding out of
the throne of God
and of the Lamb.
In the midst of the street of it,
and on either side of the river,
was there the tree of life,
which bare twelve manner of fruits,
and yielded her fruit every month:
and the leaves of the tree
were for the healing of the nations. . . .
And whosoever will,
let him take the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:1, 2, 17