THIS week, National Bible Week, has given us an opportunity to ponder the impact of the Scriptures on humanity and on our own lives specifically. While some value the Bible simply as literature, as history, and as a source of archaeological information about the Middle East, its most profound message is what it teaches of humanity's growing understanding of God.
The beneficial effect the Bible can have on those who turn to it was well expressed by a woman in Missouri, in the United States. She had lost everything in the widespread flooding that affected thousands of people there. Speaking of the stress of her situation, the woman said: ``It gets you inside. I shake all over. . . . Sometimes I walk and I walk. Then I go get my Bible. That's the only thing that comforts me'' (The New York Times, September 28, 1993).
Every human condition--in-cluding floods--is dealt with in some way in the Bible. Murder, rape, incest, betrayal, adultery, loneliness, hunger, fear, doubt, as well as reconciliation, healing, and triumph may be found in its pages. From Abraham and Sarah (who were old and childless, and yet became parents in fulfillment of God's promise), to the resurrection of Christ Jesus, the Bible tells of a God who is ever-present Love, whose power transforms and saves people's lives.
When we take its teachings seriously, especially the accounts of Christ Jesus' ministry, the Bible becomes more than an inspirational book. Jesus' declaration ``If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free'' (John 8:31, 32) becomes an active reality for us.
The Bible teaches us that man is spiritual, is the offspring of God, divine Love. This spirit-uality is uniquely illustrated by the selfless nature of Christ Jesus' life. But it is also evidenced in the courage and strength, for example, of Elijah as he confronted the numerous prophets of Baal to lead the Israelites back to the one God or the humility of Joseph, who was sold to be a slave in Egypt and ended up second in power only to Pharaoh.
What was the key to what these individuals--and many others--were able to achieve? Mary Baker Eddy, whose discovery of Christian Science grew out of her love for the Bible, honors this book in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She declares, ``The central fact of the Bible is the superiority of spiritual over physical power'' (p. 131).
This spiritual truth is what preserves people's lives, gives us insight and direction, enables us to persevere when everything seems hopeless. And through Mrs. Eddy's book Science and Health, the Bible has become an open book--one that all can turn to for comfort, help, guidance, and most of all healing.
Through our prayer and study of the Bible, we learn that man is spiritual and that this perfect man of God's creating is who we really are. We may not feel perfect, but as we pray to understand more of what it means to be God's offspring, we'll find ways to express more love, intelligence, purity, goodness, strength, patience. These spiritual qualities are the essence of our true nature. They, not materiality, define our real being. And even though our progress toward consistently expressing these qualities sometimes may be slow, perseverance will make our progress sure.
As we turn to God in prayer, we learn that He is ever present and that we can never lose His love. In times of illness, then, turning to divine Love lessens and removes disease. This occurs because Love and suffering are mutually exclusive. As we recognize the superiority of divine Love's power, we begin to see the powerlessness of sickness.
Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health, ``No power can withstand divine Love'' (p. 224). The Bible is the book of divine Love. It speaks of how this Love operates in the world and in our lives, and of how God's ultimate, saving purpose is illustrated through Christ Jesus' life and ministry. The Bible tells us that Love's power is present for all who will turn to it in prayer. That Love is present for you, and you can learn more of it in the Book of books--the Bible.
comfort ye my people,
saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem,
and cry unto her,
that her warfare is accomplished,
that her iniquity is pardoned . . . .
Every valley shall be exalted,
and every mountain and hill
shall be made low:
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough places plain:
and the glory of the Lord
shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together:
for the mouth of the Lord
hath spoken it. . . .
He shall feed his flock
like a shepherd:
he shall gather the lambs with his arm,
and carry them in his bosom,
and shall gently lead
those that are with young. . . .
They that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up
with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:1, 2, 4, 5, 11, 31