Written for The Christian Science Monitor
If we're not alert, it can be easy to be duped. Sometimes the most subtle phrases and suggestions you hear can have great influence-much like subliminal advertising. Life in the nineties requires alertness and watchfulness to avoid being deceived.
When it comes to what we believe people are like in these times, this is especially true. You can always turn on the television or open a newspaper to find records of human beings as evil or vulnerable, sometimes depicted in graphic detail. Hit movies often show mankind as primarily helpless to control itself, prone to commit evil, powerless against mistakes, weak. Many innocent people feel that they simply must struggle through life and somehow deal with whatever comes their way. "Accidents happen" is an accepted phrase.
But we don't have to be swamped into helplessness, as my family has proved by understanding that God is the only power governing our lives. I have learned and proved that I do not have to believe that bad things just happen. I turn to God for solutions when problems come along.
One example of this happened when my husband cut his hand. It was bleeding and he was in pain. I began to discuss this accident in the light of what we both believe as Christian Scientists. He agreed with me when I said that he did not want to "buy into" pain and injury any more than he would buy swampland to build on. We had learned that he could expect physical healing by changing his thoughts, holding in consciousness the laws of God, which have never stopped governing God's children. Christian Science is an explanation of these laws, which are found in the Bible. These laws, when understood, heal whatever is wrong. The bleeding quickly ceased as we prayed together, and the wound healed soon after.
This was an important lesson for both my husband and me. It showed us the truth of this statement in the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: "To begin rightly is to end rightly" (p. 262). If we begin our days believing we are vulnerable to evil-that we are mortal-then this is what we are apt to see in our lives. But if we understand that we are each the very likeness of God-spiritual, and as good as God is-then we have begun rightly and will see the direct results of spiritual understanding in our lives.
To view life as a mixture of good and evil seems so logical. It is easy simply to buy into what many people believe, without deciding for oneself. No one wants to be deceived, however, and if God is omnipotent, then evil can have no reality. Christ Jesus warned his followers. He sent disciples to preach the Word of God, saying, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16). Followers of Paul, who preached the teachings of Jesus, were warned not to be "conformed to this world." This wasn't a condemnation of other people in the world, but of the evil beliefs people held. Paul continued, ". . . but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:2).
Jesus knew the temptations that even his most loyal disciples would face. He demanded a quality of thought far above what most people consider necessary or even realistic. Jesus always showed that the power of God was present, healing disease and improving people morally. He stilled storms, healed the lame, restored the insane.
Even the most religious people are sometimes tempted to lose their faith. There is not extensive support these days for following Christ, and for believing that God is good and the only power. But Jesus has already showed his followers how vital it is to watch over their thoughts-to take great care in accepting only good concepts as real for humanity. We are strong, not weak, through God, who is all-powerful and ever present. It is impossible to be in a situation where God is not available. This means that evil cannot have the upper hand. Mistakes and accidents are not a part of God's law or His plan for anyone. Recognizing what is true is what moves us toward the promised land and away from the swampland.