For a long time I felt disturbed whenever my eye caught a newspaper ad or theater marquee for the contemporary play Whose life is it anyway? The emotional intensity of the situation (the main character, paralyzed from his neck down, argues that it is his right to decide whether or not he will continue to live) as well as the dimensions of the question ''Whose life?'' haunted me.
The implications of Whose life? touch many areas of thought - philosophical, historical, legal, as well as theological. They extend to facets of genetic engineering, to the ethics of mercy killing, as well as to the relatively simpler levels of self-determination in matters of career, life style, family obligations.
The more I encountered and thought about Whose life? the clearer it became that the specific question didn't bother me as much as the premise underlying it. In the play, life is assumed to be within, and defined by, a finite, material body, inevitably done in by death. Such an assumption invites a companion question - What is life? - before there can be satisfying answers.
As a student of the Bible and of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, n1 I accept the concept of life as spiritual in origin and nature. To me, it would not be possible to consider life from any standpoint without touching on the presence and power of God, the Supreme Being. According to the Bible, God is ''he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.'' n2
n1 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n2 Isaiah 42:5
Christ Jesus exemplified what the consistent and inevitable understanding of God as the originator and sustainer of man - as Life itself - can accomplish. Jesus put no trust in material premises, whether called human history, circumstance, structure, or heredity. When he healed the sick and restored those who had died, he proved that life is neither confined in nor defined by matter. Jesus said, ''The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.'' n3
n3 John 5:19
One can begin to see that always, under every circumstance and every condition, life is actually from God and of God. Life is God. Man's being is both hidden in and revealed by God, divine Life. Man's life is radiantly perfect as the specific evidence of infinite Life. In reality all the action, intelligence, movement, that exist are spiritual, the direct effect of divine Life. As God's offspring, man cannot be separate from His love. Man has never been, and never will be, separate from Life.
Jesus' life was proof of these spiritual truths and of the relationship of the human and divine. Following the Master, we can make our experience a proving ground. If something appears to be wrong with the life you are expected to live - if you feel abandoned in a situation lacking love, if you are trapped in a career that doesn't satisfy, if you are ill or depressed - you can examine the question, ''Whose life?'' There is comfort, abundance of good, and healing in the knowledge that your life is God-given. All the life there is is the outcome of divine Life, Spirit, and because life is actually spiritual, it is indestructible and satisfying.
Mrs. Eddy writes, ''Even though you aver that the material senses are indispensable to man's existence or entity, you must change the human concept of life, and must at length know yourself spiritually and scientifically.'' n4
n4 Science and Health, P. 359.
The task of figuring out what life is and who is responsible for it brings joy and peace when our focus shifts from a strictly human, materialistic analysis to the contemplation of God, infinite divine Life, and our relationship to Him. Wherever man is, Life has always been and ever will be. Our life is spiritual, inextinguishable, because Life is God. DAILY BIBLE VERSE God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life. I John 5:11, 12