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Chapter Five - The Christ Method
AT first thought it seems
too great a claim on our part to endeavor to heal by the method of Christ.
For was not Jesus master of life and death, direct giver of life to men?
Were not the works of healing different in kind from those wrought today?
We find the Master speaking "with authority," not as men, but
uttering decisive words which brought immediate consequence as by a miracle.
Why then should we presume to accomplish works of a kindred nature?
Yet if Jesus's works of healing
were wrought according to a science, this science becomes our
standard and we can do no less than try to be faithful as far as the divine
light has led us on our way. The Master does indeed speak with authority.
He utters the affirmative words, "Be thou made clean," "Go
thy way; as thou hast believed, so be it unto thee," "Stretch
forth thine hand." It is our privilege, however, to consider how the
affirmative word reaches the heart and sets the sufferer free. Jesus everywhere
appeals to men to believe and follow. Attributing all the works of healing
to the Father, he drew attention to those works as evidences of a principle
which was known by its fruits. He promised other works to those believing
on him, and taught that belief in him meant belief in God. Why should one
do less than to take Jesus at his word, endeavoring faithfully to understand?
Comparison of the works of healing
shows that Jesus proceeded according to a principle. Responding and appealing
to faith, he healed when there was readiness to receive. This appealing
attitude was so strong and outreaching that the centurion responded with
implicit faith in behalf of his servant, not then present; the leper declared
with full conviction, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean."
One sufferer merely begged the privilege of touching the hem of Jesus's
garment. Then, too, the Master repeatedly declared that he came to perform
his works for "the last sheep," he sent the disciples forth in
quest of the lost and faithful, once more showing that works were to be
wrought by a principle of intelligent response according to need. The disciples
were not merely commissioned with power for special purposes, as if their
works were to end by the withdrawing of that power. They were taught by
precept and example in line with the whole Gospel as "the way, the
truth, and the life." These instructions lose all their force if we
try to confine them by the supposition that they implied special privileges.
Again, we find the Master displaying
what seems like special knowledge of the hearts and minds of people around
him, also knowledge of suffering people at a distance. He not only knows
the thoughts of critics who hesitate to express their adverse sentiments,
and the timid questionings of the disciples; but is able to tell the condition
of the maid who was "not dead, but sleeping," and of Lazarus
in successive stages of his sleep unto death. This discernment of the
real in contrast with the apparent
state was characteristic of his work among the sick as a
whole. Surely this intuition
was akin to that which we all possess in some degree, which some
have had in marked degree who
have recovered the
method of spiritual healing, and which may be recognized and cultivated
by all who believe in
"the Christ within." To aspire to heal in this way is to make
ready for that discernment which reveals the spiritual states of men and
women ready for such healing.
Studying a given instance of
healing, we note that Jesus took the clue from the affirmative attitude
and its possibilities on the part of the sick or sorrowing. In the case
of the man blind from
his birth, Jesus explained that it was not that this man had sinned or
that his parents were sinners. What he emphasized was the positive consideration,
that is, the work of God which was made manifest through healing. The anointing
with clay was incidental to this. The man when restored was true to the
Master's confidence in him, as he courageously met the scepticism of the
multitude. Presently the man went further and began to plead for recognition
of the power of God, since no sinner could have wrought so marvellous a
thing. "If this man were not of God, he could do nothing." Then
Jesus met this display of faith with a further expression of confidence:
"Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" The man did indeed believe,
and he entered into the joys of his faith through acceptance of the Messiah.
If this experience is in any way typical, we may see in it a verification
of the science which the Master was teaching the disciples. Doubtless others
responded in the same way through adopting the affirmative attitude.
The most touching incident,
perhaps, is that of the woman taken in the act. Conventionally speaking
there was every reason for condemnation. The Christians of the world at
large have taken much the same position as that of the self-righteous men
who gloried in their discovery of the woman. It is still customary to condemn,
and to uphold a double standard
of morality, instead of trying to discern the heart of both men and women
with open vision. It was contrary to
all expectations that Jesus should quietly occupy
himself with drawing a figure upon the ground, then bid each guiltless
critic cast a stone at the poor creature. The world has scarcely
begun to make trial as yet of
that higher resistance which left the Master alone with the accused--so
persistently have we misunderstood what "non-resistance" means.
Connection having been broken
with those forces
which would have swept the guilty woman to her condemnation and made her
an outcast for life, the Master turned in far-sighted charity to
the accused. Jesus was not there
to condemn. He took no account of conventional standards, or
social appearances, but, as
in all other instances of
which we have record, looked deeply into the heart. For it was a question
of the continued life of this woman, not of her mere past. She was a human
spirit and had all the rights which any
soul in need can ever have to be regarded as an individual, not as a mere
unit in a social group belonging to a given nation. As a human spirit endowed
with affection, she was summoned by the Master to come out into the light
of her nobler self, to go and live for that self, the connection being
broken with her sin. She was
thus called toward the fulness of life because it was possible for her
to respond. May we read in this an expression of that method which is universal
either in disease or sin?
This faith in the human spirit
did not mean neglect of actual circumstances under which the spirit meets
experience. For on other occasions we find Jesus speaking plainly about
dark spots in human society. He speaks of the good man and the evil man,
according to the expressions they make of the Life within. He refers to
blind leaders of the blind, and warns his disciples regarding various forms
of deceit. Throughout his teaching he shows that our words condemn or justify
us, that every idle word brings its effect; hence that no man escapes from
impurity of thought by any theoretic device meant to conceal or minimize.
The Master in fact says plainly that his teaching comes to cause dissension,
as a sword brings pain. Not in any way could he be said to compromise with
destructive forces. Yet all his judgments are constructive. He comes to
find lost sheep and call them home to that kingdom of love which every
man may enter who will turn about and adopt the affirmative attitude. He
comes that men may have life and have it more abundantly.
To be the Master's follower
in the field of spiritual healing is to adopt as one's ideal this
standard of spiritual health
and see why people are held up to that standard. It would be impossible
to emulate the Master without trying to live the Christian life in fulness,
taking up the cross, losing one's life to find it, going and selling whatever
riches one may have that stand in the way of loving Christ. He who would
lead men as Little children must himself become like those
the Master blessed. He who would
teach others how
to forgive should begin by forgiving if he have aught against anyone. In
short, he who would guide his fellow men into life is bidden first to "enter
into life" himself. But all this is understood when we are speaking
of any phase of Christian service whatever. There is but one law.
What we have so long failed
to see is that the mode of life which the world has accepted as the ideal
in a certain direction is the guide in all directions. That life, for example,
is a life of giving, not "getting." It means acting unflinchingly
by a higher principle, never resisting any force unfriendly to man on its
own level but always on the upper level, through love. Healing in accordance
with the Christ is an instance of this law of giving. Christ is the Giver
of life. What all men need in their spiritual illnesses is this Life that
quickens the heart, frees the spirit from its bondages. What all men need,
Christ in the
heart already knows. It is our human privilege to be a messenger of this
gospel. If we have seen its truth in one sphere of human needs we realize
that it applies equally to all. The world has not to any extent tried the
principle of unstinted giving. So the world has not seen that this principle
applies to healing.
In his sins and illnesses man
shuts himself into a narrow world. He thinks and wills, schemes and acts
for himself chiefly, considering how he can attain his private ends, how
he may gain subtle sway over people, using them for his own interests.
When pain and suffering and the consequences of his self-love come upon
him man enters more deeply into self, asks to be freed from the results
as mere results without inquiry into causes. A creature of outward things
and interests for the time being, he expects to be set free by external
forces. He professes to care nothing about what is spiritual. He simply
wishes to go on with the game.
To be gifted with the Christ-spirit
even in small degree is to see what is the trouble with man. To be touched
more deeply by that spirit is to be moved with compassion. For man has
separated himself in heart from his Maker. He is acting as if apart, detached
from spiritual relationship with his brothers. The pains he suffers are
meant to lead him to consciousness of his
real situation. They are not hostile, not alien forces
warring upon him, but blessings in disguise. But he is in a negative attitude,
opposing the Love
that would bless him, struggling not to see the lessons of experience.
There will be no freedom for him while he rebels. But the Christ-love comes
to him to lift him out of his rebellion that he may see what he is doing,
may will to be free.
It comes to give him back to himself. Therefore the discernment it brings
makes the eye single to the ideal, inspires a vision of the self as made
in the image and likeness of God, created to be in health and freedom.
The affirmative attitude on
the part of the human spirit puts the soul of one who would serve as healer
in touch with this outpouring or giving of
Life. In the affirmative attitude we believe to
the utmost and look for the highest. In that attitude we see the best in
another and hold firmly to it. The efficiency is always from the one Giver
of life, but this life becomes most active through us when we open the
spirit to receive and give it as if it were our own. The affirmative is
at the same time the giving attitude. In this attitude there is no condemnation,
no judgment, no effort to influence another to go one's own way. There
is full giving of oneself in service, that whatever is best for another
may be spoken and may be done. To give is never merely to use, to control
or manage. To give is to be ready to be used, to let the divine wisdom
have full expression, to withhold nothing of the divine love.
Yet this unstinted giving of
oneself that the Spirit may be an unimpeded instrument of expression for
the healing Christ, is not at random or merely in general. It is the essence
of the Christ to incarnate itself, to unite the Word with the flesh in
definite and concrete form. This is why in the example given us in the
Gospels the Christ is always seen in relation to the most intimate needs
of the individual, carrying purity into the thought, love into the heart,
and a corresponding purification into the bodily life. Every individual
is sacred to the Christ. There is comfort for every sorrowing heart. No
man or woman, however separate in consciousness from recognition of this
great wisdom, is too insignificant or even too sinful to warrant refusal
to give. The one condition is willingness, faith, openness of heart such
that the healing love may enter in.
Thus too every thought of ours,
every mental ability to make our realization concrete, every prompting
of the heart however slight may be dedicated to this divine service. There
is every reason for asking for what we will "in the name of Christ,"
every reason for the prayer of the heart
which believes that it will receive. "All things are yours" in
that spirit. Now "we have the
mind of Christ." We are renewed by that mind to utter the quickening
word. and naturally in our prayers we will ask for more, since
we now begin to realize at last
something like the fulness of the promise, that other signs shall follow,
that "greater works" will be done.
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