The controversy over the movie "The Da Vinci Code" - is it a threat to faith, the secret truth, or harmless fiction? - as well as the recently uncovered gospels discussed in the media indicate that opinions about Christ Jesus are becoming more diverse and divided. Yet, beyond the media storm over these events, there is a widespread yearning for a more solid and dependable understanding of both God and the Christ.
An old hymn still rings out:
I love to tell the story
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and his glory,
Of Jesus and his love,
I love to tell the story
Because I know 'tis true,
It satisfies my longing
As nothing else can do.
"Katherine Hankey, "Christian Science Hymnal," No. 414
When singing this hymn in church, I find myself pouring my heart into it, and it always lifts me into joyous gratitude for God's love.
It would not always have spoken to me in this way. There was a time when the story of a man who lived 2,000 years ago, however good he may have been, didn't mean much to me. I was living in a world of material facts and was interested only in what I could understand through my five senses. Jesus' story seemed obscured by theological argument and shrouded in myth - irrelevant to me.
A great deal has been written and done in the name of Jesus and Christianity, much of it conflicting and contradictory. In early adulthood I concluded theology was only so much irreconcilable opinion.
After years of regarding faith as a matter of intellect and flawed belief, I realized that something essential was missing in my life, and I began searching for meaning. As Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this paper, observed: "The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love. Then we begin to learn Life in divine Science" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 322).
I read many books on religion and philosophy, but none was able to answer all my questions. Then I began to study "Science and Health" after witnessing firsthand a Christian Science healing. I wanted to understand how the healing had happened.
It was a very different sort of book. Its emphasis was not on human ability or theories but on God as ever-present, divine Love, which includes and blesses humanity. The ideas were impossible to read passively or only for information; they required participation.
As I thought through what I was reading, the concept of God as bigger and more basic than any material condition, loving and constantly unfolding good to His creation, including us, made sense to me. It concurred with what I believed to be lasting and true.
But what really made me understand these concepts was in testing and proving them. If I turned to God with a problem and trusted His goodness, I found that a deeper understanding of Spirit's allness would provide a solution.
In the course of my first year of applying in prayer what I had learned, I was healed of many long-standing physical problems, including a medically diagnosed inability to bear children. I was immensely grateful for the health and harmony that I gained through my study, but even more important to me were the spiritual growth and trust in God that resulted.
This new, yet familiar, closeness of divine Love and Truth helped me understand what the Christ is and what Jesus' story really is about. His message of hope and healing, of God's tender love and care, became as fresh and meaningful to me as it must have been to those who first heard him and were healed by him.
Rooted and grounded in God's practical love for His children, I've found a faith unshaken by material conditions, whether found in life or portrayed in a book or movie.