A Sunday school teacher once asked his class of preschoolers to describe their mothers. The little pupils’ answers included how loving, kind, and generous their moms were. When the teacher’s wife asked her high school-aged class the same question, the answers included their mothers’ height, weight, and hair color. We might say the preschool class had a more enlightened sense of their moms’ identity!
Our individuality is often defined by material benchmarks, such as age, weight, or bank account balance. But I’ve found that life is fuller and more peaceful when we look deeper and embrace the spiritual aspect of who we are. Identifying ourselves spiritually frees us from fears and limitations of mortal existence.
The Bible tells us that God, Spirit, is the creator of man (meaning all of us), and that each of us is made in the image and likeness of divine Spirit. That means our true being is spiritual, mental, not based on material elements or subject to material norms. While the material senses may not readily acknowledge immortality, we each have an innate spiritual sense that enables us to discern this spiritual existence. As the spiritual idea, or offspring, of God, we are governed by the goodness of divine Spirit alone.
Understanding this enables us to overcome fears and misfortunes. We see this illustrated in the biblical account of a Roman army officer who sought out Jesus Christ to heal his diseased servant (see Matthew 8). Jesus’ divine understanding of the spiritual nature of life empowered him to exercise the authority of divine Spirit over mortal ills. He knew that life is more than what the material picture presents, and that health can be improved through steadfast trust in God, divine Spirit and Truth.
Perhaps the officer glimpsed something of the mental nature of life in God, because he had a conviction that if Jesus would just speak the word, his servant would be healed – no need for Jesus to travel to his home. The Bible conveys that Jesus was touched by this rare and genuine display of faith, the outcome of which was beneficial: Jesus told the man to go on home, and that his servant would be healed. And he was.
In the textbook of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, writes: “For right reasoning there should be but one fact before the thought, namely, spiritual existence. In reality there is no other existence, since Life cannot be united to its unlikeness, mortality” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 492). As we, too, embrace this spiritual nature of life in God, divine Life itself, our experience, too, can be blessed.
Recently I awoke at night with a painful stomachache. It occurred to me that I had perhaps eaten something for dinner that was past its expiration date. This situation was particularly disconcerting, as the next day I was to make a lengthy presentation to an international group.
I realized that here was an opportunity to prove the spiritual nature of life: that God, Spirit – not matter or material theories about food – governed my true being. So I lay in my bed silently addressing this situation through prayer, affirming that God, Spirit, is the only legitimate basis of my health. Our well-being is determined by Spirit alone. Nothing can have an impact on our real, spiritual nature but God, good.
I continued to pray along these lines, averring the supremacy of God, Spirit, and the spiritual nature of my life and condition, knowing that nothing material could interfere with my health and capabilities. Soon the condition subsided and I was able to fall asleep again. In the morning, I was completely well and had a joyful day and successful presentation.
Life and existence are more than matter, and that life has a mental and spiritual basis can be proven by healing. No matter what types of difficulties we encounter in our day-to-day lives, when we turn our thought to the mental and spiritual nature of our existence, we find release from fears and limitations of physicality. As Mrs. Eddy put it, using the biblical synonym “Love” for God, “We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 113).