CHRISTIANS the world over recognize Christ Jesus as Saviour. He explained and illustrated the way of salvation, a way that is available to all humanity, to all who choose to follow the Master's teachings. Christians adore Jesus. But what is our relationship to him? Are we simply passive beneficiaries of what he has done, having only to ``believe'' in him? Or are we, like his earliest disciples, expected to be students and genuine followers?
The Master himself answered this question when he told his disciples, ``He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also.''1 And at another time he told them: ``These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.''2
It's evident from these words that Jesus' sublime demonstration of the divine nature and power was an example to help all of us. To be sure, his works also served to confirm his unique claim to the Messiahship. But Jesus made it plain that we not only could but should follow his example by demonstrating to a greater and greater degree God's power and man's actual spiritual dominion as the child of God.
What a wonderful opportunity we all have to find increasing salvation from fear, limitation, and suffering! What seems to stop many short, though, is the view that by and large Jesus' instructions are beyond human ability to demonstrate and therefore they must not be meant for us today, except as a doctrinal platform.
Such a conclusion is inevitable if we assume that true and lasting existence is what we perceive solely through the physical senses. But materiality, including the myriad theories undergirding it, is the very thing that Jesus was challenging. His so-called ``miracles'' struck at every human assumption about material power and reality and illustrated the natural, harmonious government of Spirit, God.
Studied from an understanding of Spirit as the source and substance of true existence, the Master's teachings begin to come alive with wonderful practicality and promise. We see that Jesus' demands are calling us to put into practice the spiritual fact that as the image of our Maker we already reflect God, Spirit, in perfect spirituality.
Certainly material selfhood is not the likeness of divinity, and that's in large part why the pure Christianity our Master exemplified sometimes seems almost unconnected to everyday living. But Christian Science helps us to see that materiality isn't the substance of our real being or consciousness -- that we can progressively put off a material conception of ourselves for a newfound spiritual perception of our God-given individuality.
For instance, if we're feeling saddled by sin in some form -- regretting it yet unable to throw it off -- genuine salvation is at hand through comprehending our God-given purity. Spirit includes nothing impure, and as the likeness of Spirit our true selfhood expresses the spotlessness of divinity. To be healed of sin we need to love goodness enough to really want to conquer sin and be more spiritually-minded. But having this desire, we can be assured of inevitable success through the mental wrestlings in prayer that win for us a greater discernment of spiritual reality.
Or if the problem is disease or disability, here again spiritual understanding can bring a restoration. Because man expresses Spirit, matter doesn't actually constitute who we are. It doesn't really give us life or ability or substance. We have all these things from God, our divine source. Didn't Jesus prove this when, solely through expressing the power of Spirit, he healed ``all manner of sickness and all manner of disease''?
Christian Science, discovered and founded by Mary Baker Eddy, acquaints us with the provable spiritual truth -- the unalterable divine Science -- that shines through Jesus' teachings and marvelous demonstrations. It shows us the naturalness of what the Master did, and the naturalness of following his example.
In one of her books Mrs. Eddy says of Christ Jesus: ``We cannot depart from his holy example, -- we cannot leave Christ for the schools which crucify him, and yet follow him in healing. Fidelity to his precepts and practice is the only passport to his power; and the pathway of goodness and greatness runs through the modes and methods of God.''3
Jesus' teachings can indeed be put into practice in their fullness. We can begin, however modestly, to grasp the glorious healing Truth that he lived and illustrated for the welfare of all humanity. This will make our Christianity more than a creed; it will make it a living proof of the harmony of God's government of man.
1John 14:12. 2Mark 16:17, 18. 3Miscellaneous Writings, p. 270. BIBLE VERSE Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. ...If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 8:28, 31, 32