One cause, one outcome

A Christian Science perspective.

In a time of uncertainty – as this period has been popularly called – people search for causes: the cause of the global economy’s slow recovery and how to deal with the political unrest that stems from it, such as the riots in France during October. The causes for continuing war and instability in the Middle East. Then there are issues closer to home – why someone has lost a job, why a company has failed, why an individual has been diagnosed with a particular disease.

Pundits of all stripes are ready to analyze political and social conditions and to offer their views. Various theories may abound regarding the reason a certain area is economically challenged or why a disease arises. Different as all these issues are, they have one thing in common. They rest on the assumption that matter and material conditions are real, and that the only solutions to be found come from the same source.

Christian Science, which rests solidly on the unreality of matter and the total substantiality of Spirit, challenges these views and invites all who value prayer to seriously consider looking to Spirit instead of matter for solutions. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, wrote at length on this topic in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” In it, she makes this arresting statement: “Spiritual causation is the one question to be considered, for more than all others spiritual causation relates to human progress” (p. 170).

The one question. That little phrase, which doesn’t appear elsewhere in her writings, shows the importance she placed on the reader’s understanding of what is at stake. She is asking readers to forsake the familiar and to radically obey the First Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). The commandment’s words are so familiar to so many people that their implications are often overlooked. As a result, one may mistakenly accept material causes and solutions as determining health and happiness. That is, as gods. This can take form as dependence on material solutions for health care, the view that political points of view are more important than prayer, that God is outdated in a high-tech society.

To put one’s trust in the one Cause, God, requires a deep commitment to spirituality and a mental self-discipline that rejects proposed material causes and looks only to Spirit for truth. Following Jesus’ example to the best of our ability gives us a wise and reliable guide to what is true.

It’s clear that Jesus rejected material conditions as causes, but he also responded to human needs with compassion, love, and healing. His perception of God was so clear that he fully understood that there was no spiritual, or divine, cause of evil. This certainty of each individual’s spiritual perfection enabled him to lift the burden of disease off multitudes.

By the same token, Jesus was never swayed by material causes or by false sympathy. At the pool of Bethesda, when a disabled man said he couldn’t get into what he believed was healing water, Jesus didn’t offer to help him get there. Nor did he accept material conditions as defining the man or his problem. Rather, he said, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk” (see John 5:1-9). According to Christian Science, Jesus understood that healing came from recognizing the spiritual causation of all life as the outcome of divine Life. The man had waited 38 years to reach a material solution. In just a few moments, divine Spirit set him free.

While Jesus’ consistent healing ability hasn’t yet been matched, it’s clear that he expected his followers to reject material causes and trust in divine help. And other examples of his healing work offer inspiration for facing global issues as well.

In September, countries assembled at the United Nations to consider their Millennium Development Goals, one of which is to halve, by 2015, the number of people around the world who suffer from hunger. This number is slowly declining, but it is still nearly a billion. Various material solutions have been put forward to address it, but there is no guarantee that these would bring about the desired result.

Jesus’ spiritual solution to hunger offers a direction for our prayers. The Bible reports on occasions when he fed multitudes. Once Jesus was able to feed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. From a material standpoint, to offer this amount of food would have seemed ridiculously small. Yet Jesus, considering spiritual, not material causation, went forward. And Matthew’s Gospel says specifically, “They did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full” (Matt. 14:20). In other words, this wasn’t a matter of a crumb or two, but a satisfying supply.

As we each work our way through the current crises, considering Spirit as the only cause can be a vital guide, keeping us on the upward path to healing – not just in our own lives but for all people. This growing awareness lights the way to progress.

From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.

For a Spanish translation of this article, see The Herald of Christian Science.

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