A Christian Science perspective: Where can we look for a truer understanding of who we really are?

No, that wasn’t American football player Tom Brady, the famous New England Patriots quarterback! That was former Patriot Wes Welker, wearing a mask of Brady, before a game in September. Welker put on the disguise for the fun of it, since Brady himself wasn’t able to be at the game. Fans weren’t fooled, however; they knew it was someone else under the mask, though many appreciated Welker’s team spirit!

There are, however, disguises that are not so easily detected. People’s real identities may be disguised by a number of things – the way they dress, a disruptive temperament, an illness, or other circumstances.

The Gospel of John reminds us, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (7:24). As a student of Christian Science, I’m learning to look beyond disguises and not be so fooled by the vast array of ways that identity is paraded before our thought as being material rather than spiritual.

The Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, realized through her discovery of Christian Science that our real identity is not defined by the material picture at all. Following in the path Christ Jesus pointed out, Mrs. Eddy uncovered the conception of man as merely a physical being to be a complete misconception. In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she explains: “Reason, rightly directed, serves to correct the errors of corporeal sense; but sin, sickness, and death will seem real (even as the experiences of the sleeping dream seem real) until the Science of man’s eternal harmony breaks their illusion with the unbroken reality of scientific being” (p. 494). God has made us in His very own spiritual image (see Genesis 1:26, 27), harmonious and whole. This is our true and eternal identity, and our efforts to see others in this light bring blessings.

This thought-provoking idea that our real identity is not actually a material life form, made up of matter, but is entirely spiritual, became clearer to me through an experience that took place quite a while ago.

When my brother was about 9 years old, he came home complaining that he felt itchy all over. He had been building a fort in the woods with his friends and had come in contact with poison ivy. The next morning there were many blisters on his face. I remember wondering where my brother was and who was that monster in his bed?

A Christian Science practitioner was called to give treatment through prayer for him. One of the ideas the practitioner shared was the Bible story of Paul being bitten by a venomous snake, whose poison was shown to be powerless (see Acts 28:1-5). What a wonderful example of the healing power of an awareness of God’s love and constant care for us!

The next day my brother had improved, and the following day he was completely healed. It was clear to me that nothing could disguise his God-given identity. Referring to Christ Jesus’ healing works, Science and Health says: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (pp. 476-477). That was the view that the practitioner had been praying to see and that had resulted in healing.

As we each face such challenges, turning to God in prayer reveals to us the “correct view” of our fellow man as forever pure and perfect. Then situations that at first might have looked frightening begin to yield to healing. A good outcome becomes possible through prayer based in an understanding of man’s spiritual nature and identity as the beloved child of God.

As we remove the material picture, or mask, from our consciousness, and hold to the way God is seeing us – created in His image, totally spiritual, joyful, flawless, and free – we can expect to see healing in the form of wonderful evidence of God’s goodness.

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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.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.