Knowing God, knowing ourselves

When it comes to helping eradicate issues such as gender inequality and discrimination, spiritualizing our concept of God and of each other is an empowering place to start.

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Gender issues continue to be a global concern. Understanding God to some degree is important in addressing these concerns, not least because this understanding gives a more spiritual sense of who we are. This also has a beneficial impact on our health and well-being.

We may wonder who or what God is, exactly. Is God a who or a what? Is God even knowable? What does knowing God have to do with knowing ourselves?

The Bible’s New Testament generally refers to God as Father. The Lord’s Prayer given by Jesus opens with “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9). Yet, there is also biblical allusion to the mothering qualities of God – nurturing, carrying, bearing (see Deuteronomy 32:11, 12). Thinking of God’s attributes in masculine or feminine terms, therefore, is not wrong, as long as this is not tainted with beliefs of corporeality or physicality. God’s incorporeality and ours is the crux of the matter.

Spirit and Love are biblical synonyms for God, so Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, capitalizes these words in the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” whenever they refer specifically to Deity. It is self-evident that Spirit, or Love, is not corporeal, and therefore can be expressed only by such attributes as spirituality and love.

The incorporeality of God is a fundamental point in Christian Science. It is crucial in its healing practice and helps us realize who we are.

Science and Health gives the spiritual sense of the opening line of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father which art in heaven,” as “Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious” (p. 16), which shows our relationship to God as the spiritual offspring of divine Love. Describing God as Father portrays the nature and quality of God as our protector, provider, and so on, and this may be just what we need to bring reassurance or resolution to a situation. Other times, what may be needed is a better sense of God as nurturing, gentle, patient – qualities often associated with mothering. And perceiving God as incorporeal Spirit or Love brings healing.

Sometimes, when I’m praying about a problem, it is helpful to see myself as the child of the one divine Parent, my Father-Mother, and healing has resulted through a clearer understanding of being loved and cherished unconditionally. Other times, seeing myself as the incorporeal, spiritual expression of divine Love, which is loving me specifically, has brought freedom.

We need to first understand God’s incorporeal nature, which is unlimited and unchangeable, rather than think of God as a human personality. Then we begin to better understand ourselves. When answering the fundamental question “What is God?” Mrs. Eddy emphasizes God’s incorporeality first, following with Spirit, Love, and five other synonyms for Deity, viz.: “God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love” (Science and Health, p. 465).

It may be a struggle sometimes to uplift our concept of God, but spiritualizing our concept of God spiritualizes our thought. We can achieve this through prayer – a wholehearted desire to understand God – and consistently studying God’s Word. In addition to healing physical and mental ills, this begins to eradicate issues such as gender inequality and discrimination and spiritualizes our sense of who we really are.

As we strive to better understand who and what God is – Father-Mother, Spirit, Love – our experience is blessed. We begin to know what it means that we are God’s spiritual reflection. Spiritual understanding transforms our character, destroys sinful traits, and heals disease. Another statement from Science and Health is instructive: “We shall obey and adore in proportion as we apprehend the divine nature and love Him understandingly, warring no more over the corporeality, but rejoicing in the affluence of our God” (p. 140).

We are all born of God. This means that we can see ourselves as the sons and daughters of the one divine Parent, the creator, our Father-Mother, or as the spiritual expressions of perfect Love, infinite Spirit.

What is most important, however, is not to materialize our concept of God or ourselves in any way. God is not a corporeal personality, but divine Love, Spirit, and because we are spiritual, we are not defined or restricted by discrimination or physicality. It is the spiritual, incorporeal understanding of God that reveals the truth about both God and God’s creation – each of us – and our purely spiritual nature. And this understanding frees and heals.

Adapted from an editorial published in the Oct. 24, 2022, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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