``ETERNAL life? No thank you!'' That's what my friend said when we were discussing this statement of Christ Jesus: ``As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.''1 My friend's conclusion, probably shared by many, is based on a misconception--that eternal life means an endless continuation of life in matter. This is not so. Material life with all its sorrow and pain is never more than temporal. The Scriptural promise of eternal life is the promise of life free from materiality in any form, wholly spiritual, with the fullness of joy that derives from the source of all life, God.
This true spiritual life is not gained by dying but by a progressive purification and spiritualization of thought. We cannot get rid of earthly troubles by dying out of them, but only by overcoming them, here or hereafter. We are not headed for oblivion but for a clearer expression of man's identity, his indestructible selfhood, which can never be discarded or lost, because it is inseparable from his creator, from divine Life itself.
The eternality of life might be likened to the indestructibility of our love for someone near to us. Our love doesn't grow old and die. In an even deeper sense, our spiritual individuality and the qualities of God that make up our true being--such qualities as love, purity, strength, wisdom, intelligence--remain forever.
The drug addict takes chances with his or her life, because false and dangerous stimulations cannot lift anyone above humdrum, abnormal, or insufferable everyday existence; but spiritual progress can. A temporary sense of exaltation may sink later into greater depths of mental and physical distress, but a gain in realizing man's true worth is permanently satisfying.
This statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, offers hope: ``The pains of sense are salutary, if they wrench away false pleasurable beliefs and transplant the affections from sense to Soul, where the creations of God are good, `rejoicing the heart.'''2
The uplifting of thought to the true consciousness of life as spiritual is not obtainable by the exercise of human will. It comes by the grace of immortal Soul, or God, as desire backed by earnest prayer for divine help enables us to glimpse that man's true being has never been, and can never be, discontinued or abandoned. This perception opens the door to greater health and overall harmony beause we begin to see our well-being as a spiritual fact rather than a fluctuating material condition.
Because eternal life is man's birthright as the child of his creator, the everlasting God, it has no element of physicality. Yet this doesn't relegate life to a realm of abstraction, because the spiritual is truly substantial. We can't lose any element of genuine good.
Neither the pains nor the pleasures of matter can obstruct the honest desire to gain a more spiritual sense of life or nullify heartfelt prayer to the divine Father-Mother for release from despair or depraved appetite. I gained freedom from an enslaving addiction when I first began the study of Christian Science. I read in its textbook, Science and Health, that the use of tobacco was not in accord with Christian Science. Resisting the demand to give up smoking, I became a prisoner of the habit. But the earnest longing to make spiritual progress through living in accord with the truth I was learning enabled me to gain dominion over this lure of materiality, and healing came effortlessly within an evening. All desire for tobacco left and has never returned.
Every high goal toward which we aspire is already within our reach as a result of our sonship with God. We need to realize in prayer that God is supreme and therefore no delusion of materiality can deprive us of recognizing and progressively demonstrating God's gift of eternal life--life in Spirit, not matter. ``Life is eternal,'' declares Mrs. Eddy. ``We should find this out, and begin the demonstration thereof.''3
1John 3:14, 15. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 265-266. 3Ibid., p. 246. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. I John 5:11