Putting food in its place

Gathering a few friends around a good home-cooked meal can be a great joy. But these days, we may be inclined to clear the menu with the guests beforehand, lest the meal go untouched!

It seems that more and more people are on a special diet for one reason or another. A lot of attention is paid to what one eats and how it is prepared. This is in contrast to the Biblical injunction, ''Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink.'' n1

n1 Matthew 6:25.

These are Christ Jesus' words from his Sermon on the Mount. Wasn't he admonishing his followers to think less about material influences and to dwell, instead, on God and the things of Spirit?

The teachings of Christian Science help us see why this admonition is so important. They point to and uphold the Biblical truth that man is made in God's own image (see Genesis 1:27). They show that because God is Spirit, as Jesus taught, man's actual nature must be wholly spiritual. Your true nature and mine, then, is not to be found in physical elements or body chemistry. Our true substance is composed of indestructible spiritual qualities such as joy, intelligence, love, strength, integrity, and purity. We've been given, as God's reflection, His own nature to express.

The key, then, to improving our health or appearance is not a special diet. We need, instead, an improved understanding of our identity as children of God - a deeper appreciation of our inheritance as the offspring of Spirit. And we need to live our true identity, express the divine nature wherever we are, whatever our activity. The eternal Christ, God's pure idea, constantly reveals to us our flawless spiritual nature. In moments of humility and receptivity, we hear its message. It awakens us to see that we're not truly physiological beings, governed by material causes and conditions.

Does this mean we can eat recklessly and still expect to manifest health, strength, and symmetry? No! The Christian demand is to partake intelligently and moderately of the food we need without giving it a lot of thought.

My mother gained freedom from a restrictive diet when she was quite young. As a teen-ager, she was afflicted with an unsightly skin condition believed to be caused by an allergy to certain foods. Several doctors, including a skin specialist, tried to help her. Along with medication, they prescribed a rigid diet.

Although pursued for some time, this treatment proved unsuccessful. In desperation, my grandmother - who had read a little about Christian Science - recommended that my mother see a Christian Science practitioner, someone devoted to healing through spiritual means alone, following Jesus' example.

In her visit with the practitioner, my mother learned about God's infinite goodness, all-power, and ever-present care. She learned, too, about her own Godlikeness, her own flawless spiritual identity. The practitioner agreed to pray for my mother and explained that she could eat normally without harm to herself, as long as she was not afraid.

Trusting these newfound truths, my mother went home and that night enjoyed the same meal served to other family members - something she hadn't done for months. And in a short time the skin condition was completely healed.

What happened here is perhaps best expressed in a statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. She explains: ''Consciousness constructs a better body when faith in matter has been conquered. Correct material belief by spiritual understanding, and Spirit will form you anew.'' n2

n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 425.

As the result of prayer, my mother's thought had been changed. In some degree fear was replaced with spiritual understanding, and the result was healing.

We can all be free from taking excessive thought for the foods we eat. As our consciousness rests on God, Spirit, and our spiritual identity, we'll depend less on matter for health, strength, and beauty. We'll discover that Spirit has already blessed us with its own glorious nature. Our only need is to claim and express the qualities of thought that compose our spiritual heritage. DAILY BIBLE VERSE We are confident . . . and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with Lord. II Corinthians 5:8.

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