There is one book that has an unsurpassed record of publishing and reading and translating, a book that unites peoples and families, a book that guides and heals and saves. A book at the same time controversial and open for interpretation, a book with a long history of use and abuse. This book is the Bible.
From a spiritual perspective, the Bible teaches us where we come from and where we are going. The children of Israel become the offspring of Spirit, stories from the Hebrew Bible (I love to use this term, which honors the Jewish tradition underlines the Hebrew legacy and link with Christianity) have stood the test of time in their historic or their imaginative glory (see the book of Job), yet Bible characters emerge as prototypes of human characteristics, representing modes of feelings and actions we all are dealing with.
The women of the Bible take on special meaning as distant friends and symbols for the worth of womanhood today. The healing record of the gospels and the book of acts reaches into our time, uniting the present and the past in the shining reality of Christian healing, the healings of today proving the veracity and historic accuracy of Jesus' and the apostles' healings. The letters by Paul and others to early Christian churches become important guidelines for Christian communities and churches wherever they are today – underlining the importance of brotherhood and closeness, again standing in their historic context but at the same time moving beyond literal meaning to spiritual significance.
For Mary Baker Eddy the Bible in its spiritual import was the number one guide to eternal life and she writes: "The Bible teaches transformation of the body by the renewal of Spirit. Take away the spiritual signification of Scripture, and that compilation can do no more for mortals than can moonbeams to melt a river of ice." (Science and Health, p. 241)
Perhaps because the world seems to be in these days of conflict frosty and harsh, her analogy is speaking to my heart and I feel the warmth of a spiritual message. Not attempting to interpret her words, this message could be this: See the spiritual signification of Scripture and realize how much it can do for you – the same as sunbeams can do to a river of ice, melting away its frosty shell and inviting the forces of spring to rejuvenate and transform nature.
In my early teens I started to become interested in religious and philosophical matters, questioning, wondering, restlessly seeking, and I started to study the Bible in a small pocket edition. Ruth, Joseph and Paul became spiritual friends and models for action and peace of mind, and I embarked on a spiritual journey where Biblical truths and verses became travel companions. One stood out to me: " Do not be conformed to this world[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12: 2. RSV) I remember as it were yesterday the insight I gained in one moment, filling the consciousness of a fourteen year old. She was grasping a world of unseen and unknown things, entirely good, and acceptable and perfect, finding a guideline in life and seeing for the first time clearly that a significant life is a life of transformation and constant change. To me this was Christian Science in a nutshell – or, the other way round, I could learn from Paul because the spiritual depths of his counsel was being unveiled. Here was not a historic text any more, here was not an invitation to simply believe and adore, to accept without questioning or to follow without understanding – here was powerful support, enlightening vision, practical advice. The Bible showed itself to be actively speaking to me – and its sunbeams melted away some ice that had settled on the streams of my troubled teenage thought. It has never settled again, not through my teen years, not beyond, and as much as I love winter and its ice cold promises: When it comes to human life and the qualities of thought I definitely prefer spring.
In the Christian Science Bible Lesson, this week the 91st Psalm is at the center of a beautiful lesson. The Bible lesson is spiritual education at its best - with a deep respect for the individual thinker, honoring your own perspective and interest. It is open, anyone can study it. In case you are ready, here are two links for you:
To the Christian Science Bible lesson.
To three ways to understand the 91st Psalm.
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In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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