Take care of yourself
A Christian Science perspective: A look at spirituality and how it affects our health.
Taking care of ourselves is a good idea – in fact, it’s a necessity. But do we need to be preoccupied with the physical body in order to be healthy and feel good about ourselves? While it might seem that focusing on the body – food, exercise, material remedies – is the best way to keep healthy, the Bible suggests that we take the best care of ourselves when we take care of what we think and when we rely on God for our well-being.
The book of Philippians makes clear where our thoughts should be focused: “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (4:8). Such thoughts acquaint us with the nature of God, our creator – and help us express more of His nature in our own thinking and character. As the Bible indicates, God is Spirit, Truth, and Love (see for example, John 4:24; Deuteronomy 32:4; and I John 4:16, respectively). When thought is more in accord with God, who is the true source of man’s health and well-being, we naturally experience, both mentally and physically, the benefits of God’s harmonious government over us.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus said that to seek first “the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) would naturally result in the care of all our needs. His words imply that care for the body is included in a God-centered state of thought. It’s the outcome of understanding the things of Spirit.
Using another Bible-based term for God – Mind – Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, said: “We need a clean body and a clean mind, – a body rendered pure by Mind as well as washed by water. One says: ‘I take good care of my body.’ To do this, the pure and exalting influence of the divine Mind on the body is requisite, and the Christian Scientist takes the best care of his body when he leaves it most out of his thought, and, like the Apostle Paul, is ‘willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord’ ” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 383).
Being “present with the Lord” in thought and action is natural and results in better care for the body. At the very heart of Christ Jesus’ words and healing works was the truth that man is actually the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26) – the spiritual, perfect, immortal reflection of divine Spirit. To gain a progressively more spiritual view of identity as Godlike is to experience greater freedom from bodily ills and concerns.
Jesus turned away from a material sense of life to behold the spiritual reality of man as God’s image, the expression of Spirit. According to the Bible he didn’t recommend material methods or remedies in the face of disease or disability. Rather, he destroyed these ills on the basis of the allness of God, good. When a fearful, limited, human sense of things yields to a spiritual perception of creator and creation, health naturally follows this spiritual transformation of thought.
That’s what happened for a friend of mine who was sick one night. After she tossed and turned for some time between prayers, her husband said humorously, “Honey, I’m so proud of you! You did the impossible! You found a ‘spot where God is not.’ ” “There is no spot where God is not” is a simple phrase that has been sometimes taught to children to help them understand that God, good, fills all space and that they can never be separated from Him.
My friend laughed, knowing her husband was lovingly suggesting that in her prayers she turn away from the physical symptoms to the reality that God was indeed present, and that as God’s expression she was spiritual, untouched by sickness. Upon this realization, she felt mentally at peace, and she was suddenly well – completely free of the illness with no period of recuperation and no return of the symptoms later.
So it was that my friend experienced the benefit of being “present with the Lord” in prayer as the way of taking good care of oneself.