THE encounter was brief. The Biblical record almost painfully too short. An outsider was passing through town and was met by several members of the community who were suffering from a dreaded disease.
The outsider was Jesus. There were ten lepers who met him that day, and he healed them. But the record reports that only one who had been healed ''returned to give glory to God.'' n1
n1 Luke 17:18.
Perhaps of the ten only one saw a connection between the visible physical change and any deeper, spiritual dimension of his life - such as his enduring relationship to God.
In the midst of all too human and personal tragedies, the link betwen God and man can seem tenuous at best, and unpredictable or nonexistent at worst.
People who are looking for spiritual answers, who are searching for God, aren't alone in struggling with the hard questions and hurts that so often debilitate human life. Medical and scientific research doggedly pursues the same questions, and for every tentative answer found there are many more questions. A comment by one philosopher-scientist reflects a common feeling: ''Year by year we devise more precise instruments with which to observe nature with more fineness. And when we look at the observations, we are discomfited to see that they are still fuzzy, and we feel that they are as uncertain as ever. We seem to be running after a goal which lurches away from us to infinity every time we come within sight of it.'' n2
n2 J. Bronowski, The Ascent of Man (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1973, p. 356.
The mother yearning to do the best for her child, the teacher helping students to sort out right from wrong, the Bible student reading far into the night to know God, all share a common desire with the scientific researcher who seeks out truth. The Christian Scientist is not removed from the heartfelt desire that really moves human inquiry.
Yet Christian Science turns the individual back to man's spiritual, or divine , source, rather than to the constantly shifting phenomena of what may or may not be detected with the eye or the instrument. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of this Science, saw that all which springs from a strictly empirical view of the universe has no genuine, lasting basis, and will wear away with time.
On the other hand, she discerned in the healing record of New Testament Christianity an underlying, eternal divine cause which, when grasped and lived, would dispel the ignorance and fear and self-destructive behavior that are the source of disease, both mental and physical.
She writes, referring to God, ''It is only by acknowledging the supremacy of Spirit, which annuls the claims of matter, that mortals can lay off mortality and find the indissoluble spiritual link which establishes man forever in the divine likeness, inseparable from his creator.'' n3 Clearly, such acknowledgment , to be effective, is more than casual assertion, but must reach deeply into and be supported by the motives and conduct of our daily lives.
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scripturesm, p. 491.
The moral and spiritual insights of Christian Science - based upon a God who is only Love, and revealing man's actual nature as far above the shifting appearances and fortunes of matter - break upon human consciousness with healing. The false conviction that disease is immovable, and patterns of fear and hate and self-centeredness, give way to spiritual light and affection. Christian healing and reconciliation necessitate the breaking down of fixed materialism with a spiritual understanding of our own and others' genuine selfhood and enduring relationship to God, who is Life and Love. Far from a theoretical or philosophical stoicism in the midst of hurt or pain, such profound moral and mental changes heal today as they did in New Testament times.
Paul, in writing to a group of early Christians, spoke about the deep spiritual regeneration that is the heart of Christian healing. He wrote, ''I beseech you therefore, brethren . . . be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.'' n4
n4 Romans 12:1, 2.
The onset of spiritual healing takes place in the depths of one's own response to divine Love. As a result of prayer that acknowledges God's supremacy and man's likeness to him, the relationship between God and man can be seen as an indissoluble bond that leaves no one outside the borders of His tender care. This relationship, which may at times have appeared as tenuous and indefinable, or may have only been glimpsed as one's own faint hopes that life should be better than it is, is seen as permanent and dependable.
The nature of divine Love is to care for all, and Love itself is the source of our yearning for a better life. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. Romans 8:16