FROM beginning to end, the Bible's spiritual message shows that any material view of man is inaccurate. The Bible illustrates the power and practicality of understanding man in a more spiritual light--even as the very image, or idea, of God. Man is not a conglomeration of good and evil, but is God's own perfect child; the heir of all good and only good. From this basis we can begin to understand the spiritual love that gave power to the ministry of Christ Jesus and his followers.
In fact, as I discovered late one evening, an understanding of God's power can nullify intoxication and restore harmony to our experience. I was riding home on public transportation as I often do. Passengers were boarding and leaving as usual.
The train started to move forward before one of the newly boarded passengers had a chance to sit down. This is common, since people often choose to remain standing for the duration of their ride. The motion of the train caused this particular passenger to lose his balance, however, and he staggered awkwardly, to sit in the seat behind me. I could tell he was somewhat drunk. Once settled, he began to make continual derogatory comments to me and about me. Although it was obvious that his commentary was about his own current state of mind and really had little to do with me, the situation was making me uncomfortable.
Instead of turning around to speak to him or getting up to find another seat, I began to think about what I understand of the nature of God. I knew prayer could be a practical help.
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul declares in his letter to the Ephesians, ``We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places'' (6:12). The first thing I did was to recognize that my quarrel was not with the individual in the seat behind me, but with a material theory of existence that assumes we are limited mortals subject to material circumstances and influences. Material theories assert that thought has a material source, that it begins in the brain. But, in fact, God is the only source of thought, action, and identity. And man--our real identity--is the direct effect of the creative intelligence that is God. On this basis rests the power of Christian healing.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains it this way in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Mind is God. The exterminator of error is the great truth that God, good, is the only Mind, and that the supposititious opposite of infinite Mind--called devil or evil--is not Mind, is not Truth, but error, without intelligence or reality. There can be but one Mind, because there is but one God; and if mortals claimed no other Mind and accepted no other, sin would be unknown'' (p. 469).
What did that mean to me that evening on the train? Since man is the creation, the idea, of perfect God, I reasoned, he must be thoroughly and constantly good-natured, not obnoxious. Certainly this would have to include the man in the seat behind me! Also, because God is Mind, it is then obvious that Mind cannot for one instant be intoxicated. Divine Mind has no material or chemical element to be affected or influenced by alcohol or any other drug. Because Mind, God, is unlimited, the source of all thought, there is actually no thinking going on--not in me, not in any individual on the train, and not anywhere--that does not have its source in God. God is the infinite presence of good; evil, or intoxication, is basically, finally, and presently a lie about man. Man is the idea of God, the very thought of divine Mind. If God is sober, then man, His likeness, has no choice but to be sober too!
In a few moments, the man in the seat behind me leaned forward to talk to me. This time, however, his voice held a respectable tone. He apologized for his previous behavior, then sat back quietly in his seat and did not say another word until I got up to leave when the train arrived at my stop. He then, quite kindly, bade me a good evening.