As a young woman I decided to read the New Testament straight through, from beginning to end. I had never done this before. I wanted to know what Christ Jesus' life was like from day to day; what kind of conversations he had with people; the context of his words and works. In that poor land, occupied by a foreign army, how did his teachings relate practically to people with concrete needs and problems?
As I read the gospel narratives in their entirety, I realized that when Jesus said, ''The kingdom of heaven is at hand,'' n1 the divine state of being he was referring to was clearly at hand, because people were being healed of stubborn or even incurable diseases. Leprosy, palsy, blindness, deafness, crippling handicaps, were instantaneously healed.
n1 Matthew 10:7.
The function of religion isn't merely to reconcile people to their difficulties, to just buoy them up so they can try to cope with ugly, painful misfortunes. Christ Jesus wasn't teaching people to resign themselves to suffering with a vague promise of a reward at some far-off time. He showed the people God's great presence and power to heal them and feed them, to care for all their own and their children's needs. This healing was central to his ministry.
We might think that this was a special dispensation, a unique gift God bestowed upon Jesus alone. Yet Jesus instructed his disciples to do the same things: ''Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.'' n2
n2 Matthew 10:8.
The New Testament records that the disciples were able to heal spontaneously as well. And not only the twelve but ''other seventy also'' whom Jesus sent out. The early Christian Church was identified with healing.
Today, many churches are beginning to rediscover the healing work of the early Christians. Christian Science encourages all of us to look deeper into the origins of Christianity to see the natural and primitive power of prayer to heal sickness as well as sin.
The Christian Science textbook helps to reinforce our natural inclination toward trusting God's goodness and allness as the only power. The author of this book, Mary Baker Eddy n3, asks us: ''If thought is startled at the strong claim of Science for the supremacy of God, or Truth, and doubts the supremacy of good, ought we not, contrariwise, to be astounded at the vigorous claims of evil and doubt them, and no longer think it natural to love sin and unnatural to forsake it, - no longer imagine evil to be ever-present and good absent? Truth should not seem so surprising and unnatural as error, and error should not seem so real as truth. Sickness should not seem so real as health.'' n4
n3 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n4 Science and Health, pp. 130-131.
Shortly after I first began reading this textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, I was healed, through prayer alone, of a severe anemic condition that medicine had been unable to cure over several years. Through a deeper understanding of God's goodness and allness our family has experienced numerous other healings. Turning to God for help becomes more and more natural each time we do it.
A perception of God's goodness, and of our genuine unblemished, spiritual nature as His likeness, underlies Christian healing and can be cultivated by all. The healing truth Christ Jesus taught and practiced remains a living heritage for us today. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Jesus. . . saith unto them, Have faith in God, For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark 11:22-24