For decades, the number of British households owning Bibles has declined. But 2020 saw a “sharp boost” in pandemic-prompted sales of the Scriptures, according to a Christian bookseller talking to the Financial Times (Peter Chapman, “The home in 50 objects #33: King James Bible,” March 5, 2021).
That’s good news. But purchasing a Bible is just step one. Pondering its message is the crucial next step. Step three is best of all – when we gratefully grasp its meaning in the way that two early followers of Jesus did. Looking back on a walk with him towards a town called Emmaus, they said: “Weren’t our hearts glowing while he was with us on the road, and when he made the scriptures so plain to us?” (Luke 24:32, J. B. Phillips, “The New Testament in Modern English”).
We can’t literally walk with Jesus today. But our hearts still glow with gratitude when making breakthroughs, even when modest, in our understanding of all Jesus taught. Jesus himself promised a Comforter would come – “the Spirit of truth” – which, he said, would “testify of me” (John 15:26).
In 1866, after many years of seeking to grasp how Jesus had healed, Mary Baker Eddy discovered a scientific understanding of God that she recognized fulfilled this promise of a Comforter. A pivotal point was a moment of pondering one of Jesus’ healings, which gave her new clarity about God’s nature. This glimpse of the onliness of infinite Spirit restored her from injuries suffered in an accident and illuminated how to heal others. What she learned crystallized as the discovery of Christian Science.
Mrs. Eddy’s writings show how healing ideas pervade the Bible’s pages, and not as some mystical interpretation or secret code. What she uncovered could be called the Bible’s unhidden meaning. When we read the Scriptures with spiritual sense, which is innate in everybody, what seemed hidden to the opposite material sense comes to light. Namely, that material existence is a misperception of our spiritual identity. This materialism yields to our identity as Spirit’s offspring, to healing effect, when the spiritual reality Jesus knew, loved, and proved becomes clear in our thoughts.
Our hearts can’t help but be aglow when the Bible is illuminated in this way. That is, when a spiritual sense of Scripture lifts us to recognize the truth of God’s Word, enabling us to distinguish between spiritual thoughts and material perceptions and beliefs. In accepting the former and rejecting the latter, healing and character reformation result.
The beauty of these Bible stories and verses is that they touch us in the way that uniquely helps awaken us to God’s loving and caring nature and the spiritual qualities that constitute us.
For instance, reading about David overcoming Goliath, we might think of the giant as representing depression, fear, or sensuality that looms large in our consciousness, paralyzing our progress. Then David’s words become a beacon to us: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (I Samuel 17:45, New International Version).
A spiritual perception of Scripture can occur with less dramatic Bible passages, too. When struggling with flu symptoms, a colleague opened the Bible hoping for healing inspiration but landed on a page-long genealogy. At first, this seemed neither inspiring nor healing. But it suddenly occurred to him that a genealogy records mortal and material lineage. He saw that the reverse was actually true. We are each descended solely from Spirit, not matter, so he was spiritual and not material, healthy and not sick. With that insight, the flu symptoms fled.
The Bible itself promises that “the deaf” will “hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity” (Isaiah 29:18). Those yearning to grasp the meaning of Christ revealed through a spiritual sense of the Bible will find it.
As International Day of the Bible was recently commemorated globally, and Thanksgiving Day coincides with National Bible Week in the United States, we can be thankful for every copy of the Scriptures. And for every Scripture faithfully pored over. And we can be especially grateful that the spiritual meaning of the Bible is made plain through Christian Science – revealing the healing, saving Christ, ever present to make our hearts glow with gratitude to God.
Adapted from an editorial published in the November 2021 issue of The Christian Science Journal.