‘and nothing shall offend them’

A Christian Science perspective: Prayer can help us overcome past offenses and even bring physical healing.

Are you afraid that something you did or that happened to you in the past is producing problems for you now, or will affect your future? While the offense may seem out of reach in time and space, the divine Spirit that is God doesn’t leave us helpless. Spirit, through its healing Christ, can reach beyond the offending fear that pins us as victims of circumstance. It wakes us up to the fact that we are truly spiritual, and that our God-given individuality has never been affected by material circumstances. The power of Spirit can transform our thinking and move us forward without fear.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper and discoverer of Christian Science, wrote, “A spiritual idea has not a single element of error, and this truth removes properly whatever is offensive” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 463). What does it mean to be spiritual? Paul’s letter to the Galatians shows the kind of qualities that give evidence of our spiritual nature: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (5:22, 23).

To identify ourselves and others as the spiritual idea of divine Spirit is to discover in us these fruits – proofs of what we are really made of. Spirit’s creation has never fallen or been tossed from perfection in Spirit to imperfection in matter. Imperfection isn’t a factor for a child of God – it is no part of the divine equation. It is the role of the Christ, God’s message of truth to each of us, to make us more conscious of this reality. This spiritual awareness results in the proper removal of an offending discord, because it removes the offense and fear from thought and, consequently, the body. This removal is called Christ-healing.

My daughter was a baby when she fell ill with aggressive and serious physical symptoms. The graveness of her condition and the immediate need for healing forced me to examine my thoughts and fears more deeply than I ever had before. As I prayed for her, I realized that I had suffered for a long time from a fear that my happiness was being controlled and limited by someone who hated me. I had accepted this hatred as a perpetual plague on my house, and in many ways I nurtured it through my own negative reaction. My fixation on an evil cause, and my anger over it, wasn’t helping me – or my daughter.

The wake-up call for me came when I realized in prayer that neither I nor my daughter could be forced from our spiritual identity, which is always upheld by God, and which includes only health and happiness. To a spiritual idea all is spiritual and there is no evil – that which in Christian Science is often called “error” because it is not included in or created by God. I recognized that it wasn’t enough for me to know this as some personal truth. To be classified as true it must be universal, embracing all aspects of my and everyone’s experience – including the person I had thought of as my enemy.

Interestingly, it wasn’t merely that I thought I shouldn’t hate her anymore; I realized I couldn’t hate her anymore. The moment that I identified myself as Spirit’s own, I could feel and express only the fruits of the Spirit. I could suddenly know this person only as God knew her and me – as spiritual, never tossed through material circumstances that could produce hatred and reaction. I saw her as continuously – uninterruptedly – blessed. I saw myself as blessed. I saw my daughter as blessed. With that realization, the baby was healed instantly on the spot; and the evil influence of hatred on our family stopped cold.

That is how the Christ heals. God’s message of light and love and holy power reveals to human thought that each one of us is presently and permanently blessed. These kinds of experiences are revelatory. They become landmarks of spiritual growth.

The fact is, we have never fallen or been pushed from spirituality to materiality. We are spiritually formed and brought forth, and the Holy Spirit maintains us right at this point. God’s law is that a spiritual idea has not one single element of error. As the Psalmist declares, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (119:165).

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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