WE all want to have a good life. And yet, sometimes it may seem as though our lives are filled with difficulties. We may be tempted to think, ``Well, that's just the way life is.'' But actually, we don't have to simply accept troubles. The study of Christian Science shows that the troubles in our lives are, at base, a result of deeply held misconceptions about life and man. These misconceptions stem from the basic belief that everything, including man, is essentially material and is vulnerable to discord, decay, and eventual death. When we confront such misconceptions of life and man, however, and base our conclusions on the deeper truth that man is spiritual, created by God, the picture changes radically.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, spent much of her early life struggling with illness and coping with family tragedies; she well understood discord and suffering. But she was also a devoted student of the Bible and spent those years searching the Bible for spiritual answers. She came to see that the Bible's message that God is good and that God is Spirit, and that man is made in God's likeness, provided her with a spiritual basis to challenge human frailty. She perceived that ignorance of the true nature of God and man is the basic cause of all inharmony, and she saw that it was Christ Jesus' understanding of God's power and law that enabled him to heal others.
Mrs. Eddy's revelation healed her -- at a point when she was near death -- and completely changed her life. She had found the key to a truly good life. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the remarkable book which explains her revelation, Mrs. Eddy writes: ``In divine Science, man is the true image of God. The divine nature was best expressed in Christ Jesus, who threw upon mortals the truer reflection of God and lifted their lives higher than their poor thought-models would allow, -- thoughts which presented man as fallen, sick, sinning, and dying. The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea, -- perfect God and perfect man, -- as the basis of thought and demonstration.''
Material views and beliefs -- the source of discord -- need to be replaced with the spiritual sense of reality, the ``Christlike understanding'' which reveals that man is actually pure and good. As the Bible makes clear, in the deepest, most profound sense of truth, man is the spiritual expression, or manifestation, of God, Spirit, who is wholly good and who is Life.
As the manifestation of Spirit, man is not a mere mortal made up of imperfect, material elements and more or less corrupt thoughts. He actually reflects the pure goodness of God, and expresses spiritual qualities, such as love, intelligence, peace, joy, strength.
The book of Revelation in the Bible records a vision of man's true life as ``a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.'' Because man's life derives directly from God, it is like ``a pure river of water...clear as crystal.''
It may be hard to see through the brackish elements of mortal existence to our true, spiritual, good life. We may sometimes feel very far from being spiritual and perfect! But we have Scriptural authority for knowing that man is truly God's own likeness. And we have Christ Jesus' example to show that we can prove this in our lives, starting now, no matter what our current situation is.
Proving our pure goodness as the expression of God, divine Love, is within reach. It calls, however, for alertness to, and rejection of, subtle social and mental influences that would turn us from the truth of God and man.
This can't be done through mere willpower but can be done through obeying God. The law of God not only supports us in our efforts to demonstrate our true selfhood but also ensures our inevitable success. This success is assured because the truth is that man is actually already spiritual and perfect.
The prayer and work it takes to express our real nature and to live a truly good life is definitely worth the effort. Jesus said, as Matthew records, ``Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.'' We're blessed with the ability to see, to understand, God as we keep our thoughts, desires, motives, and acts pure and God-directed. A pure heart lets in spiritual light that brightens our outlook; clears away confusion, discord, and depression from our lives; and enables us to see proofs of divine Love's presence and power right where we are. Then we're witnessing to God, the good Life, the one true Life.
Mrs. Eddy states in Science and Health, ``To the physical senses, the strict demands of Christian Science seem peremptory; but mortals are hastening to learn that Life is God, good, and that evil has in reality neither place nor power in the human or the divine economy.''
As we leave behind materialistic thinking and impure living, we also increasingly leave behind the sickness and sorrow they cause -- all those troubles we thought were an inevitable part of life. Instead, we experience more of the perfect Life that is God, good, and find health, holiness, and happiness.
Our individual efforts to be good not only help us to have healthier lives ourselves but also bring renewed affection and more peace and progress to our homes and communities. How good it is to know that we all can see and experience more each day of God's pure goodness.
The Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine, contains more articles about God's power to heal.