During his ministry they had sniped at his teachings while jealously plotting to do away with him. Now they had this great spiritual reformer nailed to a cross. Thinking he was at last discredited and destroyed, they flung a final mocking challenge: “If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40).
Three days later Christ Jesus rose from the grave. He consoled and encouraged his disciples and sent them throughout the known world to preach and heal as he had taught them. The hatred, envy, and political clout that had tried to put a stop to Christ Jesus’ mission couldn’t.
It isn’t difficult to find examples in the world today of truth being uttered through moral and spiritual conviction. But these examples may seem so scattered, and the ignorance, selfishness, or hatred that surrounds and opposes them so overwhelming, we may despair of ever seeing truth victorious.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, knew well what faces every effort of spiritual reform. She writes, “It requires courage to utter truth; for the higher Truth lifts her voice, the louder will error scream, until its inarticulate sound is forever silenced in oblivion” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 97).
Christ Jesus’ timeless example offers hope – and proof – that spiritual truth, understood, cannot be put down. Jesus knew that God is good, and that man is actually spiritual, innocent, and pure. The evidence contradicting this higher understanding of being was massive. But to Jesus, suffering and sin were not conditions of true manhood and womanhood. He saw them as impositions of the devil – impersonal evil belief, which opposes the understanding of God.
Referring to evil, Mrs. Eddy writes: “Jesus defined this opposite of God and His creation better than we can, when he said, ‘He is a liar, and the father of it.’... Jesus never intimated that God made a devil, but he did say, ‘Ye are of your father, the devil.’ All these sayings were to show that mind in matter is the author of itself, and is simply a falsity and illusion” ("Science and Health," p. 554).
The all-wise, all-loving creator, God – divine Mind and Love – could not create evil of any kind. Knowing this, Jesus refused to fear evil or to accept material suffering and sin. Rather, he healed them through the power of this higher, spiritual understanding, releasing those “whom Satan hath bound.” The Master’s resurrection was his crowning proof that evil, including what we generally accept as laws of material life and death, cannot destroy man nor forever hide man’s true, spiritual being, which Jesus lived so fully.
To begin to approach the spiritual dominion exemplified by Jesus, we need to distinguish between material appearance and spiritual reality. We need to acknowledge that God’s creation, including man, is good – sinless, spiritual, and pure – and that man is governed only by God’s law, the law of changeless good. Also, we need to deny firmly that evil has reality. Substance, activity, and existence are bestowed by God, and He doesn’t create or impart evil.
Efforts at promoting health, peace, justice, and moral stability in the community or in the world, if grounded in prayerful spiritual trust and understanding, have supporting them the same irresistible power of Truth, God, that underlay Jesus’ words and works, including his resurrection. To be of lasting help, we must do more than arm ourselves with theory or doctrine. We must take with us the heartfelt recognition of our brother’s eternal spiritual innocence – whether that brother, or sister, appears to be a criminal, a chauvinist, a slave to vice, or whatever.
The world will not be transformed overnight. But our unselfish prayers and prayer-backed humanitarian efforts will have effect – will heal. No one can say for sure what the course of events will or should be as humanity progresses. But each of us can proceed assured that spiritual understanding will increasingly bring man’s goodness to light.
Reprinted from the March 20, 1978, issue of The Christian Science Monitor.