"The question, 'What is Truth,' convulses the world," wrote Mary Baker Eddy in her premier work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." Those familiar with the Bible will recognize that question as what Pontius Pilate asked Jesus (see John 18:38). Although the Bible doesn't record Jesus as having answered, the full answer can be found in his life and teaching. It convulsed the world then, and it is convulsing the world now.
And how will humanity respond to that question today? Mrs. Eddy went on to say, "Many are ready to meet this inquiry with the assurance which comes of understanding; but more are blinded by their old illusions, and try to 'give it pause' " (p. 223).
At a basic level, people in the United States are trying to understand the truth behind fluctuating oil prices. And they wonder about the rising cost of food. Can we trust what the experts tell us? On the international scene, questions about overpopulation and tensions between Israel and Iran loom. Who has the facts right?
But even in the midst of such questions, there is evidence of Truth's answers. North Korea's recent steps toward cooperating with the world community regarding its nuclear activities are one example. Humanitarian aid to the suffering in China and Burma (Myanmar) are another. In the American Midwest, sandbaggers – and other helpers – saved at least some downtowns and local treasures from floods. Each of these declares that love and persistence reveal a central truth: "God is on the field, although/ He seems invisible" (Frederick W. Faber, "Christian Science Hymnal," No. 86).
To maintain a clear understanding of Truth's presence in the face of the floods (literal and figurative) requires discipline and discernment. In a parable in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus provided a way to tell fact from fable by contrasting the actions of two men. One built his house on sand, the other on rock. There might not have been a visible difference between the two choices. But when rain descended and floods came, the house on sand fell, "and great was the fall of it." On the other hand, the house "founded upon a rock" stood firm (see 7:24-27).
That rock is the Christ, the spiritual truth that he came to teach to humanity. It is the unalterable proof of God's love for all of us. It opens people's hearts to love more and criticize less, to share more and hoard less, to know where to place their trust – to build on rock, not sand. And it enables us to discern what is true and what isn't by this simple method: When put to the test, sand slithers away, but the rock of Truth stands solid even as the elements of adversity pound upon it.
Material thinking keeps people confused over questions of financial stability, business ethics, leadership choices, and environmental issues. And fear is probably the most common old illusion. It spreads its shadow over nations, leading them to irrationally mistrust each other – or to be overly trusting when there is danger.
If the material view of existence were true, then despair, confusion, and fear would be inevitable. But the Science of the Christ, the Comforter that Jesus promised, has come to humanity, and is now transforming human thought with a spiritual power that heals.
That transformation can come about more quickly as humanity accepts this great fact of the Bible: that man is spiritual now – not at some future time. This man – which includes both male and female – belongs to Spirit, is actually Spirit's offspring. We have never been matter-bound; nor will we ever be, because matter has no foundation in Truth. With this fact as a guide, no one needs to be deceived by the belief that life is a dreary round of inevitable disasters and illusive answers.
Despair, confusion, and fear cannot stand before the Christ, which brings clarity and light. As The New English Bible translates part of the prologue to John's Gospel, "The light shines on in the dark, and the darkness has never mastered it." Nor will it ever master it!
When despair, confusion, or fear begin closing in, you can turn to a central fact: The inspiration of the Christ is present, voicing Truth. And it cannot be silenced.