Recently I was reading a testimony from an old bound volume of The Christian Science Journal from January 1953. The testifier wrote about how she was healed of an unsightly condition on her body by feeling a deep understanding of the meaning of this sentence on page 463 of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to The Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy : “A spiritual idea has not a single element of error, and this truth removes properly whatever is offensive.” I found this testimony and this sentence helpful because I was working on helping a close relative to heal a similar case of an unsightly condition.
The Christmas Tree
In her textbook, Mrs. Eddy wrote this particular sentence this within a paragraph which discusses obstetrics. In the context of that paragraph, this sentence helps to describe the assurance we can have that through effective prayer, the birth of a new child, a new divine idea, will proceed without hindrance and will reveal a perfect idea without deformity. Out of that context, this sentence is every bit as valid. Outside of this context, the spiritual idea in this sentence represents generic man. The concepts of infancy, childhood, puberty, adulthood and old age are only human concepts, like decorations hung on the Christmas tree of our real identity. Our real identity is the perfect manifestation of the reflection of all of God’s qualities. Our spiritual identity is like the bare and natural Christmas tree before it is decorated with humanly made ornaments. A perfect and beautiful tree represents and reflects God’s perfection in His creation. Some trees may appear as less than perfect in human life, as do some people, but for the sake of analogy, let’s consider a perfect and beautiful tree.
Enhanced with all of the decorations we add to the Christmas tree, the true nature of the natural and original tree is obscured. The true nature of the tree is still there of course, and we can see it beneath the decorations with some effort. It may not be easily perceived when the tree is so weighed down with decorations. The natural beauty and strength of its branches, the strong and firm form of its trunk, is hidden by all of the flashy and attention grabbing ornaments. We call the fully decorated tree a Christmas tree. To the observer across the room, the Christmas tree appears to be one continuous, beautiful entity. Human thought decides that the Christmas tree is beautiful, but the beauty perceived in the decorated tree is of human, and not of divine origin.
The analogy of the Christmas tree with a human being follows the same line of thinking. The true, spiritual and perfect nature of man could be likened to the bare tree as it came from the woods, the perfect man reflecting all of the beauty caused by God. Human thought and human concepts are added by our misconceiving mortal and material thought patterns to this pure and spiritual man, just like decorations are attached to a tree. In the case of the human being, the decorations and the attachments are not always beautiful like those which we would intentionally add to a Christmas tree. To the human observer, then , the spiritual man becomes difficult to discern, because he is wearing all of the accoutrements of human invention, just like the tree is wearing all of its human decorations and becomes difficult to see.
This form of man, wearing all of our human and limiting material concepts, is what we call a human being. As with the fully decorated Christmas tree which appears to be one unit in which the decorations appear as a natural part of the tree, the human form appears to be one continuous compound conglomeration of the spiritual and the material. The world makes the error of mistaking this form for the spiritual man, who is still present and identifiable, but obscured by the attachments of human thought.
We can sort out this illusion mentally. The spiritual man is perceived by human thought to include in his identity all sorts of attachments which are not of Godly origin, but are of human origin. Such things can be exemplified as, for instance, a sinful nature, vulnerability, susceptibility to disease and accident, and even including the concepts of birth, growth, maturity , degradation, decay, and ultimately death. None of these added concepts reflect the infinite and pure nature of God . God, however, is the author of the spiritual man beneath the humanly imposed mortal thoughts and human limitations in the human being, just as God is only the author of the bare and natural tree under the beautiful decorations. As a human being our real identity is hidden, weighed down by all of the external ornaments, beautiful and ugly, the creations of mortal thought. Remove them from thought and experience by understanding and dismissing them, and the spiritual and perfect man will be seen beneath.
Let’s begin to analyze how we can uncover the spiritual identity of the pure and perfect God-created man beneath this mess of humanly created disguises. Let’s take the spiritual ideas of innocence and purity as our starting points. We can all easily identify with the concepts of innocence as they are seen in an infant or in a developing young child. From a Christianly scientific perspective, man is individual, pure, perfect, and mirrors his creator God, good, in every aspect of his nature. Man’s real nature has always been perfect, and will always remain perfect. The child appears to our human sense to easily express completely pure and unadulterated love because his/her sense of human identity has not yet been complicated by the distortions of what humans falsely believe and teach about man. With human growth, gradually the innocent and trusting nature of the human child seems to fade away as the child is taught and “educated” about sin, disease, accident, contagion, stages of growth, death, and all of the related etceteras already mentioned.
It is vital to re-affirm at this point in the discussion that no thing of evil has origin in God because evil is the diametrical opposite of God, good. It is also vital to re-affirm the infinite nature of God, good. The nature of God’s infinity necessarily excludes anything without a connection or source in God. The identity and existence of evil things resides only in distorted habits of human thought. Human thought is not even known to God, and is, in God’s spiritual sense of infinite good, only delusional. Human thought has no real source nor substance in God. Such thought maintains a solid but false conviction of its own reality within the human consciousness, but has no actual origin other than the belief of itself residing there. The innocent child has not yet had all of this misinformation engraved onto his sense of self. These points seem to be the most difficult to understand for the thinker who has always thought within the human and mortal sense of existence. In order to grasp Christian Science, we must be willing to leave comfortable thought patterns and to try on new views for size.
This developing child is the human concept of the ideas of innocence, unwavering trust, purity, etc. He/she is “a spiritual idea” and his/her spiritual nature “has not a single element of error”. The pure and innocent qualities which we perceive in the human child indicate the presence of the real and spiritual man, God’s reflection, in that child. What we see as “child”,though, is a human misrepresentation of man’s pure and spiritual identity, for our concept of a child is a product of human thought including other distortions of spiritual reality. But the trusting and loving qualities in the child actually indicate the true and perfect spiritual nature of what we see humanly as a child. And the fact remains that children do radiate this sense of unconditional love because of their still limited education in the ways of the world.
In Genesis 1:27 we read : “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”
Those wonderful spiritual characteristics so evident in the human child must then continue to be reflected in man forever, for we know that man is created in the image of God. Logically, if God, fixed and unchanging divine Principle does not change, then neither can His image, man, change – just as the reflection in the mirror must puppet the action of the person standing in front of the mirror. What appears to change in the process of human growth and the passage from one stage of life to another, is only the human thought and self- perception within our human consciousness. The real, perfect and eternal man, whose essence is spiritual rather than material, continues to reflect his maker, God, regardless of how many and what kind of distorting attachments are added to the human sense of self by human thought. In the adult stage of human life, man is spiritually and truly every bit as innocent and pure as he was in the childhood stage! This is a powerful realization!
If, for instance, one finds himself suffering from a chronic problem that was not present at an earlier stage in life, there is power in the knowledge, confirmation, and conviction of the Truth that one’s spiritual and real perfection is always every bit as intact as it was in childhood. The reality of discordant conditions resides only in the falsehood of mortal thought in the human consciousness. In other words, the same purity that we see in the concept of ourselves as a child continues to reside within us, forever! Spiritual perfection has a human counterpart -, a healthy happy body. The realization of this is always within our grasp, but we often fail to see or recognize our inherent spiritual perfection amid the confusion of the human mind’s mixture of distortion into our view of spiritual reality. More often than not, human education and traditional theology have actually falsely taught and advised against the very spiritual presence of that which can help us. As human life progresses through its perceived stages, educated human belief builds an increasingly stronger defense of its own false senses, hanging increasingly more complicated and spiritually deceiving attachments and distortions to man’s real identity. To human sense the spiritual man may seem to become increasingly obscured, but the spiritual fact is that our identity always and forever remains perfect and intact. Human circumstances are but powerless deceptions of thought.
This idea of the permanent nature of our eternal identity remaining perfect throughout all the stages of our human life, once demonstrated in even the smallest degree, brings the beginning of a victory over time itself. When we can demonstrate to ourselves and to others through what appears to be the healing of a material condition through the realization that our spiritual identity is perfect and independent of time, we begin to see the victory over time itself. Time, being a human concept, alters the appearance only of that which is experienced in the human mind. But this new realization drives home the point that time has no effect at all upon our permanent reflection of God’s activity. As this process advances, the human mind becomes less human, and more closely approximated the divine perfection, resulting in a healthier and happier life. I am reminded of a portion of the lyrics to a song by The Alan Parsons Project, entitled “Time.
“Time, keeps flowing like a river…..to the sea…..til it’s gone forever! Ahhhhh!”
This method of prayerful treatment is the most powerful antidote there is to claims of any type of degradation of the body at any stage of human life. In middle or old age, these ideas of an understanding of man’s inherent spiritual timelessness play an important role in permanently healing diseases and maintaining healthy conditions. Man is timeless, pure, upright and free! Such a realization explains how so many people defeat predictions of demise caused by what are termed fatal or incurable diseases. It explains why so many who live longer and healthier lives are also those who pay the least attention to the material laws of health for their physical bodies.
There is no degradation of the real man. Physical degradation in the human man is but a gross misrepresentation of reality caused by distortions of the human mind. The example from the 1953 testimony above is a typical confirmation. That testifier confirmed that through revelation gained by deeply understanding the content of the sentence which opened this article, namely, “A spiritual idea has not a single element of error, and this truth removes properly whatever is offensive” , the unsightly condition that had been present on her body for many years, simply vanished!
Arm yourself with a new spiritual viewpoint! We have the power and authority to control our bodies through the understanding and clear perception of our permanent and real identity as the image and perfect likeness of good, God, of divine Love itself. Armed with the conviction that divine Love is all that comprises your life, you can conquer anything!