It has been all over the news the past few weeks.

Swine flu, epidemic, pandemic, contagion. Do we have to fear that we may become sick or even die from the flu? Can we do something to protect ourselves?

Christian Science, which is rooted in the Bible, and is the study of the laws of God (Divine Mind, Love and Truth) says we don't have to accept the inevitability of disease; that the laws of God exempt us from illness of every type. Throughout the Bible are accounts of people being healed and protected by God. Psalm 103 says God heals our diseases, and Psalm 43 says God "is a very present help in trouble." Jesus healed all sorts of illnesses, including fever and the supposedly highly contagious leprosy. Jesus also instructed his followers to heal like he healed. In the 19th century, Mary Baker Eddy discovered the laws behind Jesus' works and named her discovery Christian Science. Since then, Christian Scientists have been proving, through healing, that the law that exempts man from disease or discord is available to everyone to use.

Know who you are

In Genesis, it is stated that God made man in his image and likeness and that God made everything good. If men and women are the spiritual expressions of the divine nature (Love, Life, Truth, Spirit), how then can they become sick? Eddy wrote in her textbook "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "It is our ignorance of God that produces apparent discord and the right understanding of him restores harmony." Job 32 says, "There is a spirit in man and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding."

Jesus placed great emphasis on the power of thought to determine our experience and the importance of understanding that our relationship to God is as parent and child, principle and idea. The material and vulnerable man that seems real to us is, in reality, a misapprehension of existence, a temporary counterfeit, the result of thinking we are both material and spiritual beings. When we correct our thinking, our outward experience changes. Jesus noted the healing power of acknowledging God (Love) as the only cause when he said "The light of the body is the eye. If thine eye be single then thy whole body shall be full of light." Knowing that we are God's spiritual offspring gives us dominion over our body.

Refuse consent to disease

The Bible says that God is love and God is the only power, the only cause, therefore illness and discord have no real foundation or cause. When we refuse to give it place in our thought, refuse to fear it, we find ourselves free from symptoms. Eddy wrote, "The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus's time, from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation."

Health is our natural state as God's spiritual offspring. We need to reject the idea of a power (material conditions) opposed to God. God has made us capable of this.

Always protected

God is love; omnipotent, ever-present love. As God's expression we can never be separated from him, never be vulnerable to an attack of any kind. Eddy wrote "the relations of God and man, divine Principle and idea, are indestructible in Science; and Science knows no lapse from nor return to harmony, but holds the divine order, or spiritual law, in which God and all he creates are perfect and eternal, to have remained unchanged in its eternal history."

A firm conviction of this is enough to prevent illness or, if illness appears to be present, make it vanish. Since these laws are divine, not human, we can trust in them to always be present and effective. By constantly turning away from the testimony of the physical senses and listening to our spiritual sense, we gain power over the erroneous suggestions of sickness and discord.

St. Paul wrote "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."

What a great comfort it is to know that suffering from illness is not inevitable. We don't need to fear sickness, but can rejoice that we can find protection through the understanding of our status as God's beloved expression.

Cynthia Dunne is First Reader and is formerly on the Board of Trustees of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Oneonta.

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