Big questions, practical answers
A Christian Science perspective: Is the meaning of life a question to be ignored?
Recently I caught an especially thoughtful, though typically amusing, scene in a TV situation comedy. A young girl had asked her father what life was all about – why did God put us here? Afterward the father and other family members were sitting in the living room, trying to come up with an answer, and they weren’t doing very well.
Lots of people probably wrestle with big questions about the true nature of life. But perhaps too often a deeper pursuit of the answers is crowded out by the demands each day brings and a resigned feeling that answers are mainly unknowable.
Interestingly, some people have come to feel that a growing perception of the truth of existence is possible and that it can be of practical value, as they’ve seen in their own lives. But what is this truth, this reality beyond what human knowledge can fathom, which is also very practical? Many have found that the teachings and works of Christ Jesus embody this reality and lead the way to answers.
Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). He also taught that we can’t serve “two masters.” “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). His teachings, and the healings of disease and sin that were the natural outcome of those teachings, show how helpful, even life-changing, it is to discern something of the nature of God as Spirit and the perfect, spiritual nature of what He created – and to be faithful to that vision. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, “The supremacy of Spirit was the foundation on which Jesus built” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 138). And part of her metaphysical interpretation of the term “Spirit” is this: “God; that only which is perfect, everlasting, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinite” (Science and Health, p. 594).
Christian Science affirms that what seems so inscrutable to a limited, human perception of things begins to become clearer through a Bible-based view of creation as the unflawed, eternal outcome of divine Spirit, without beginning or end. It’s true that this understanding grows naturally and progressively in us through prayer, spiritual study, and the daily endeavor to live in harmony with Jesus’ teachings. But each individual can begin to prove that through a humble receptivity to the reality of all-powerful Spirit and the perfection of man as Spirit’s likeness, our present experience will be greatly benefited.
For instance, when my mother was a teenager, she had an infected finger, and it was painful. She had learned of Christian Science through her grandmother, and was confident that she could be healed through prayer. Her parents, who were not Christian Scientists, agreed to give her a little time to pray before they called a physician. As my mother explained in her written account of this experience (see “It is with deep gratitude that I ...,” Christian Science Sentinel, Sept. 5, 1953), a passage from Science and Health quickly came to her thought: “Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, – neither in nor of matter, – and the body will then utter no complaints” (p. 14). She thought about that for a short while, striving to realize the spiritual nature of existence. When her father came to her room, the finger was completely normal. There wasn’t a trace of the problem.
Over the years, I’ve found a perception of the actual nature of life in Spirit to be practical in a variety of situations. There was a time, for example, when I was experiencing a nagging pain for a couple of days. As a result of prayer, there was a lessening of the problem, but it returned. Then I gained this key insight through listening for God’s healing thoughts in continued prayer: As His loved child, my true and only being wasn’t a suffering physical structure, as it seemed to be; I was actually created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26), entirely spiritual and perfect right then. The trouble quickly and completely dissolved.
From the standpoint of material reasoning, life’s big questions can certainly seem unanswerable. But through a spiritual sense of existence, an entirely different view opens up that has profound meaning in the here and now of our lives.