I’m grateful for progress this year. This is a healing about church.
I’ve come to understand that believing that I am right on a church issue and that others are wrong is a blindness to the truth that there is only one Mind. If I see error in someone else, if I believe others do not see the right way, I am accepting the error of many minds. This belief of self-righteousness and judging others often includes separation, retaliation, and intense emotions.
Mrs. Eddy’s comment to a student in Christian Healer about healing blindness was very helpful. On page 223, she writes, “You must first conquer your own doubt… . If you believe the lie, it will be difficult to make [the patient] disbelieve it. Say [the patient] can see and believe it yourself, cast the beam out of your own eye.” I saw that the blindness of believing in many minds was the beam in my eye (my own thinking). In order to see harmony in my church, I had to disbelieve the lie and conquer my own doubt.
At Pleasant View, Mrs. Eddy counseled her students who were on a metaphysical “watch,” not to allow emotions or a focus on personality into their treatment. She says that “they must not pray … with any hatred or resentment in their thought.” (Christian Healer, page 253)
Her students were not to pray about anyone personally. In 1889, she wrote, “Let our finite judgment never settle on who is troubling us, and never defend ourselves against a person. Rather ask what is troubling, and then meet the what.” (Christian Healer, p. 245) Mrs. Eddy’s use of the word “never” caught my attention. I was to stay with meeting the what, casting out the lie, and never get entangled in the who of personalities. This was a challenge because passion and emotions on both sides of the church issue seemed so real to me.
A light in this darkness of personal sense was Mrs. Eddy’s statement on page 104 of Miscellaneous Writings, “I will love, if another hates. I will gain a balance on the side of good, my true being. This alone gives me the forces of God wherewith to overcome all error.” Repeatedly, this angel message came to my thought, until I realized that nothing but love—calm, unselfed love for my fellow members—was acceptable. There are no exceptions to this rule—no indulgence in self-righteousness, no dismay at what another says, no reaction over what others decide to do.
This was a hard lesson, because I felt that my opinions about church were grounded in Principle. The Church Manual and Mrs. Eddy’s writings seemed to back me up completely. However, by practicing Mrs. Eddy’s rule, “I will love, if another hates,” I found that my loyalty to Principle had to be a loyalty to divine Love. I had to love divine Love with all my heart and soul and mind, and live it by seeing everyone innocent of transgression in the light of Love. Only then would I be obedient to Article 8, Section 6, “Alertness to Duty,” in the Church Manual. This was my true loyalty to God, to my Leader, and to mankind.
After Association last year, you said these brief words to me, “There is only one man and one Church.” That absolute fact became a spiritual compass-heading for me. I turned away from the path of rehearsing the issues in my mind—what was said and who had said it. I held to the spiritual course of seeing perfect God and perfect man as the only reality, and the one spiritual Church that is founded on Principle as the only church.
Now I understand better why Mrs. Eddy so often says an error is “self-imposed.” I saw I had a choice. If I stopped believing the lie of many minds, the lie would no longer be imposed on my thought. It was that simple. And, if I believed the Truth that there is one Mind and man is God’s perfect image, there would be no lie to believe in. In this spiritual reality, there is one man, the Christ idea, and we are all the divine idea, in perfect harmony with God and with each other. All members are in this spiritual light and they all have the mind of the Christ. Contention, disrespect, anger, and division are not present in the Church founded on divine Principle. In this is clear seeing, there is no beam in anyone’s eye.
It took deep prayer to understand this, to see myself and my fellow church members as God has truly made us. Once I began to glimpse the spiritual truth and claim it for myself and everyone else, the way started to open up. Humility was essential in learning the lesson. It took the meekness of self-knowledge to see that the beam was really in my eye, and not someone else’s.
It was imperative to stay alert. I had to stick with the Truth no matter how insistent the arguments of divisiveness and human will seemed to be. I had to stand porter and not let the lie enter. This took vigilance, because the lie seemed to appear in new ways all the time.
After a few months, I returned to my branch church. I was peaceful, and I prayed constantly to see the one man and the one Church, wholly spiritual. I found new ways to help. Putting away some legal files, I noticed an important issue that needed the immediate attention of the members. The membership united in prayer to demonstrate our highest sense of brotherly love for our next-door-neighbor, who had filed a lawsuit against us a couple of years ago. The right steps to take came in ways we did not expect. Since that time, there has been a renewed sense of respect for one another. We work better as a group now, and people are ready to pitch in and help where they are needed.
Through this experience I have learned a lesson about democracy in branch churches. This democracy is based on the Church Manual and the Tenets of Christian Science, and it demonstrates the higher rule of divine Principle. In this divine reality, each member is the idea of Mind and is seeking Mind’s guidance. Each one expresses the nature of the Christ. With humility, each member listens to the others and values their thoughts. Votes initiate forward steps, and they are seen to be the best understanding of the group at the time. The issues voted on, and which way they go, are ultimately irrelevant. The real victory is in demonstrating the Truth that there is only one Mind, and in disbelieving the lie of many minds—that is, keeping the beam out of our own eyes. Then we are able to walk together, encouraging each other and healing as we go along. We willingly go that extra mile, supporting and loving everyone, no matter what views they may hold. The very presence of a clear thought, unemotional and never condemning, quietly sweetens the atmosphere of thought, healing bitterness and sadness. Gently, everyone feels the sunlight of this joy.
Recently a member said to me, “You have been transformed this year.” I was surprised that it was so evident. I do know that I see everything and everyone differently. There are new opportunities each day at church to be alert and prove that there is only one Mind and man is His image.
This oneness with God is our Church. Our foundation and strength is the Truth that Principle is indissolubly united to its idea, man. At the same time, this Principle is the healing Christ in our thought. Church proves its usefulness by waking us up and lifting us to recognize our undeniable oneness with Spirit, infinite Love. Our awakening is seen in redemption from sin and the healing of sickness. Every Christian Science testimony anywhere, spoken or unspoken, published or unpublished, is evidence of this healing Principle in action. Nothing can prevent, obstruct, or deny the power of this Principle to operate in human thought. Its holy purpose is being fulfilled today, as it has been in all time—to cleanse and purify human consciousness.