Did you know you’re an artist? For the purpose of this article, consider yourself a sculptor, working on a statue of your life! The shape it takes is determined by the ideals and models you hold in your thought. To form the statue accurately, you need to see yourself as you truly are, and the best way of doing that is to see yourself as God sees you – made in God’s image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26, 27).
Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, challenges readers of her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” to consider whether their lives are being shaped by this pure, spiritual sense of themselves or by another model of thought. She says: “We are all sculptors, working at various forms, moulding and chiseling thought. What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering? Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it?...
“To remedy this, we must first turn our gaze in the right direction, and then walk that way. We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives” (Science and Health, p. 248).
Christ Jesus always had this perfect model in his thought. He knew God made all that was made, and that it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Looking beyond mere material appearances, Jesus recognized that reality is characterized by goodness, spiritual perfection, and harmony, all of which are reflected by the men and women of God’s creating. And Jesus healed on this basis.
This perfect model is ours to claim and image forth. Yet aren’t we often tempted to buy into imperfect concepts of ourselves – concepts that suggest we can be sick, vulnerable to contagion, lacking, and insecure? In the Bible, the allegorical account of Adam and Eve describes this model as “the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). A talking snake (of all things!) manipulates Eve into thinking there’s a better model for herself and Adam by gaining in such material knowledge.
Today we know better than to believe in talking snakes, but are we alert to other types or modes of influences or manipulation? Communing with God in daily prayer, staying mentally alert, and holding to the true model of God and of our true spiritual nature as God’s creation enable us to better recognize false influences seeking our acceptance and promotion.
At one time I felt very intimidated and fearful of the model I was asked to consider. In support of a family member, I agreed we’d participate in a weeklong program designed to improve self-esteem through self-evaluation and analysis. Essentially we were being asked to view ourselves as flawed material personalities, instead of keeping thought focused on the true understanding of what we are as God’s spiritual expression.
While the goal was to help attendees improve themselves by thinking deeply about their motives and actions, some of the group dynamics and techniques were quite intimidating. One facilitator in particular was daily “in my face,” convinced I should be discovering some hidden, negative characteristic that I was unaware of. I’m certainly open to prayer and spiritual growth uncovering characteristics that need transforming, but assuming there must be something wrong, and digging in the human mind to find it, is the opposite starting point to “[forming] perfect models in thought and [looking] at them continually.”
Before each workshop I prayed earnestly to know myself as undefiled and Godlike, and to see each participant and leader with the same spiritual clarity. I thought of this statement in Science and Health: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals” (pp. 476-477). The passage goes on to say that this correct view of man heals. That was my clue – I needed to see as Jesus saw! So, when facing manipulation or intimidation, or even praise, I held strongly to my and others’ God-given identity as spiritual, Godlike, and pure.
On the final day of the program, this facilitator came to me thanking me for my participation, saying, “I can see that you’re very spiritually minded.” Well, that was gratifying beyond words! I thanked God immediately.
When we reject a flawed model of ourselves or others as material and imperfect, we can stay focused on the perfect model created by God. Focusing on the true model may require discipline, as any sculptor or artist will confirm, but the reward of this conscientious carving is “grand and noble lives.” Lives filled with meaning. Lives that bless and heal others!
Some more great ideas! To read or listen to an article in The Christian Science Journal on overcoming fear titled “Healing – because there is no fear in the allness of Love,” please click through to www.JSH-Online.com. There is no paywall for this content.