The believing that heals
THE summer after my freshman year in college, I participated in an archaeological dig. One Friday morning after working for hours the day before in a wooded lot, I woke to find I was covered with poison ivy welts -- literally from head to foot. I was soon very uncomfortable. I decided to go home for the weekend. But I had to take a public bus. Considering how I felt and looked, it would not have been surprising had I been miserable. But I wasn't -- far from it. In fact, I felt entirely unselfconscious, peaceful, joyful, loved, and full of love for others. That morning I had looked to God in my need. And I had begun by turning to the Bible and to the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.1 I no longer recall exactly what I read, but I do remember vividly that it illumined for me the teachings of Christ Jesus to such an extent that I knew with utter certainty that what he had taught and lived was the truth. In that moment, the idea that we all are of God -- that God is good and All and that we are His likeness and loved by Him -- was no longer an abstract hope but living reality. I stayed with that realization throughout the weekend. By Monday I was healed.
What had happened? In a nutshell, I had believed the gospel. And the results were those promised by Jesus himself. When he was once asked by some who had witnessed his healings, ``What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?'' he replied, ``This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.''2 And just before his ascension he told his disciples that healing was one of the ``signs'' that ``shall follow them that believe.''3
Believing, then, is a necessity for healing. But clearly, believing, as Jesus meant it, implies much more than ``believing in'' things or human beings or rote doctrine. Science and Health sheds this light on the subject: ``The Hebrew and Greek words often translated belief differ somewhat in meaning from that conveyed by the English verb believe; they have more the significance of faith, understanding, trust, constancy, firmness. Hence the Scriptures often appear in our common version to approve and endorse belief, when they mean to enforce the necessity of understanding.''4
If we would ``believe,'' then -- and if we would heal -- we must understand, in some degree at least, what Jesus said and did. But how? This, in essence, is the question which Mrs. Eddy grappled with for many years through prayer, study of the Bible, and practical experience, and which ultimately led to her discovery of what she was convinced were the spiritual laws that undergirded Jesus' healings -- what she named Christian Science. What are these spiritual laws? They are what might be called spiritual facts or truths: that there is one God, divine Spirit, all-powerful and ever-present good; that God is the one Mind, infinite intelligence, the sole cause and creator; that man is the offspring of God and is therefore wholly spiritual in nature; that evil, because it is entirely unlike God, must in reality bedevoid of power, devoid of intelligence,devoid of substance, and consequently,at base, itself completely void.
The discovery of these spiritual fundamentals gave Mrs. Eddy an absolute confidence in the provability, timelessness, and universality of Jesus' Christianity and of Christian healing, for she saw that Spirit -- not matter and all the byproducts of physicality and mortality -- is the reality. Man, therefore, is not at the mercy of illness, incapacity, shortage, even death, because he already exists at the very standpoint of spiritual perfection and wholeness. Healing is the result of ``believing'' or knowing these divine facts -- and putting them into practice. Of such results Mrs. Eddy writes, ``He that touches the hem of Christ's robe and masters his mortal beliefs, animality, and hate, rejoices in the proof of healing, -- in a sweet and certain sense that Godis Love.''5 That's what I had felt that morning -- ``a sweet and certain sense that God is Love.'' And through Christian Science I have felt it many times since.
Mrs. Eddy validated the revelation she had through her own remarkably successful practice of Christian healing. And The Church of Christ, Scientist, she founded to help make her discovery available to others continues today, dedicated to commemorating -- as she puts it -- ``the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.''6 This Church gratefully acknowledges the prayer-based healing being pursued by other Christian denominations. And it joins with them in encouraging all who will hear to work to bring forth the ``fruits of the Spirit'' through practicing the believing that heals.
1The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2John 6:28, 29. 3Mark 16:17. 4Science and Health, p. 488. 5Ibid., p. 569. 6Manual of The Mother Church, p. 17. - NO DAILY BIBLE VERSE TODAY -