Which sense are you relying on?

Taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing – we’re all familiar with the five physical senses. But it’s our inherent spiritual sense that reveals our identity as God’s children, paving the way to healing in the manner that Jesus taught.

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In keeping with the science curriculum at the elementary school where I used to teach first grade, I taught my young pupils about the five physical senses. As part of the lesson, I also wanted to help them recognize that there is substance to be found beyond what those material senses reveal. So I asked the children if their parents loved them.

“Oh, yes,” they all replied.

“How do you know?” I queried them. “You can’t see love, or hear or smell or taste it.”

They were not to be deterred. “You know love by how it feels in your heart,” they informed me.

Ah, yes. This illustrates our spiritual sense, or what we intrinsically know that goes much deeper than the material senses. Spiritual sense enables us to recognize what is genuinely true about ourselves and others as children of God – no matter what the material senses exhibit.

Christ Jesus demonstrated this more acutely than anyone. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, writes of Jesus, “His senses drank in the spiritual evidence of health, holiness, and life;...” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 52). Material sense might present a picture of someone who was sick, blind, or immoral, but Jesus never accepted that as true about God’s spiritual offspring. The entirely good God, divine Spirit, created man – all of us – as spiritual, whole, harmonious, and healthy.

Jesus’ certainty of the spiritual reality enabled him to heal and redeem lives. In her “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” Mrs. Eddy explains, “Jesus regarded good as the normal state of man, and evil as the abnormal; holiness, life, and health as the better representatives of God than sin, disease, and death” (p. 200).

One time, when Jesus entered a synagogue, he noticed a man with a deformed hand. But Jesus did not accept that material sense picture as the true, spiritual status of the fellow. Jesus told the man to stretch out his hand, and then all who were present saw the hand was now as perfect as the other one (see Mark 3:1-5). The spiritual reality Jesus discerned through spiritual sense prevailed over the presentation of material sense, and that brought the healing.

We might ask ourselves how we get spiritual sense. In fact, because we are the children, or reflection, of divine Spirit, it is as innate in each of us as it was in my little students who told me they knew in their hearts that their parents loved them. And we can cultivate it by keeping our thoughts on God, relying on divine Spirit to inform us of what’s real – only what is good, virtuous, honest, and upright. This enables us to experience healing.

Recently a friend texted me that she was on a business trip and not feeling at all well. She found it difficult to even sit up in bed, and lots of “what ifs” were swirling around in her head.

We decided to pray together, taking a stand that spiritual sense alone would inform us about her health. In God there is no “what if,” only “what is.” We affirmed that all existence is based on one divine Principle – God. And God is Love, so the governing Principle of life must be Love. And divine Love, Principle, includes only good for each of us, so anything not beneficial cannot truly be part of our identity.

As we recognize this, what isn’t good and true begins to fall away from our experience. As Science and Health promises, “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings” (p. vii).

That’s what happened with my friend. In the afternoon, I received another message saying she was making progress and feeling better. At the end of the day she reported that she’d been able to successfully make her presentations, and she was able to move freely. The problem didn’t return.

Our spiritual sense is always present, in every circumstance, to “open [our] eyes, so that [we] may behold wondrous things out of [God’s] law” (Psalms 119:18, New Revised Standard Version).

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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.