THE concern for health and strength in society today has reached a frenetic level. Dietetic formulas for increasing health and exercise programs for developing strength have created a booming industry. For many people, vitamins, so-called health foods, and exercise machines have become an accustomed part of life. But for all the hype, and despite the enthusiasm of many who participate in these endeavors, one needs to ask whether these formulas and programs really work. It is quite obvious that compliance with material health laws and theories has not eradicated sickness and physical problems from the world. In fact, new diseases continue to appear and defy drugs, vitamins, exercise, and other material remedies.
The way to health in Christian Science is quite different because this Science defines man in spiritual terms. It teaches that God, divine Mind, imparts health, harmony, and beauty to man, who is His own spiritual image, or idea. Christian Science explains that because man is truly governed by God, divine Mind upholds man as nothing else can. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``To be every whit whole, man must be better spiritually as well as physically. To be immortal, we must forsake the mortal sense of things, turn from the lie of false belief to Truth, and gather the facts of being from the divine Mind'' (pp. 369-370). Only through a spiritual sense of being do we learn how to govern the body successfully, how to supply it with genuine, lasting health and strength.
When I was fourteen I was the proverbial ``ninety-seven-pound weakling.'' My health was fragile. Determined to turn my life around, I plunged into a program of vigorous exercise. By the time I was seventeen, I had gained a certain body strength, but my health had hardly improved. I suffered from a variety of ills, including nervous exhaustion, a weak stomach, and high blood pressure. I continued to exercise and added vitamins and health foods to my diet. Nothing helped. In spite of all my efforts, my health continued to be in flux. Despondent, I thought, ``There must be a better way!''
Not long after this, I learned of Christian Science. It helped me understand something of the wonderful Biblical teaching that man is created by Spirit, instead of by matter. A recognition of this brought a whole new concept into my thought: a growing awareness that man is actually God's perfect idea--now! As I studied the Bible and Science and Health, the picture I'd had of myself as a sick mortal man in a material body gave way to a higher, more spiritual conception of being. And as I began to attain a better understanding of the allness of God, Spirit, I gained a clearer view of His image and likeness-- man. As a result, I began to have a wonderful sense of my true spirituality and wholeness, a realization of man's completeness in Mind, as opposed to incompleteness in a material body.
This understanding gave me the certainty that genuine health is not something to be attained materially; rather, it is a spiritual quality that spontaneously unfolds in our experience to the degree we grasp man's true selfhood as the expression of God, divine Life. When I understood this, Christ Jesus' words in the Gospel of Luke became resplendent with meaning: ``Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment'' (12:22, 23). Jesus knew that man's life is ever maintained by God, and is, consequently, not dependent on food and so forth. With this understanding, the ills from which I had suffered began to fade quickly and naturally from my experience.
From personal experience I am convinced that Mind surpasses vitamins, drugs, and exercise in maintaining health and in curing disease. And, unlike material remedies, Mind's healing power is always present. We do need, though, to change our basis of thinking from the material sense of being to the spiritual. When we come to know our true being as the loved child of God, we will experience a higher and more lasting sense of health and strength.