By Jill Gooding
From the August 2021 issue of The Christian Science Journal
Today, it would appear that our world is in a state of chaos. Every item of news seems to bring reports of new confusion and a crisis of some sort, producing uncertainty and anxiety. Can we as individuals help to heal this and lift ourselves and our world out of this chaos?
A short sentence written by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives us encouraging food for thought and provides a basis for our prayers for the world. Speaking of the material sense of life opposed to divine intelligence, she writes, “The chaos of mortal mind is made the stepping-stone to the cosmos of immortal Mind” (Unity of Good, p. 56).
One dictionary defines chaos as “a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.” And it defines cosmos as “the world or universe regarded as an orderly, harmonious system.”
Do we identify ourselves as living in chaos or in the cosmos? And what constitutes each?
The two conflicting accounts of creation in the first and second chapters of Genesis illustrate two opposite ways of thinking about reality. Christian Science explains the first as true and the second as false.
In the first account, creation begins with Spirit, God, and unfolds in a very orderly and clear way. God first creates light, and divides it from darkness. God then divides the seas from the land, and causes the earth to produce grass, herbs, and fruit—abundant food. Then after creating the sun, moon, and stars, God creates all living creatures, their habitat already in place and waiting for them. As the high point of the divine creation, God then makes man (“male and female”) in His image and likeness and gives man dominion. Finally, God sees the whole of this spiritual creation as “very good” (see Genesis 1:1–31). This certainly is a harmonious, beautiful universe with each idea living peacefully with all others in divine order.
In contrast, the chaos depicted in the Adam and Eve allegory, beginning early in the second chapter of Genesis, starts with a mist that distorts everything. An opposite, untrue depiction of God, called Lord God, creates a universe of matter and man made of dust. This fake God then hypnotizes the dust-man and performs a surgical operation on him, removing a bone from which he creates a woman. Adding to this chaos is a talking snake which beguiles the woman with lies and demoralizes the man. The account ends with Adam being cursed with a life of hard labor and Eve with painful childbirths (see Genesis 2:4—3:19). What a chaotic mess!
At the moment, it appears that our world resembles the chaos of the second account of creation, rather than the cosmos of the first one. But throughout history there has always been a choice of what to accept as the governing power of the universe, and this choice has had an impact on human experience. It is recorded in the Bible that the children of Israel were told, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15).
Are we accepting the chaotic depiction of where we live?
Are we accepting the chaotic depiction of where we live—a place where disease, economic crises, and political strife are running riot and curtailing our freedoms? This is not the design of an all-good, all-loving God, but the outward manifestation of materialism and a false sense of life.
So what is the true picture, the divine reality? It is of the beautiful, ordered, productive universe created by the all-good God, Spirit, in the first chapter of Genesis. There, man—the true identity of each one of us—is made in God’s likeness and is blessed by God with dominion, forever safe in divine Spirit’s ever-presence, reflecting Spirit’s all-power and expressing the Mind and intelligence of God.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy writes: “The three great verities of Spirit, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience,—Spirit possessing all power, filling all space, constituting all Science,—contradict forever the belief that matter can be actual. These eternal verities reveal primeval existence as the radiant reality of God’s creation, in which all that He has made is pronounced by His wisdom good” (pp. 109–110).
Accepting this mental model as the only true one enables us to live without fear or anxiety and opens the way for us to experience heavenly harmony here and now. Jesus illustrated the supreme harmony of God’s reign by his parables and said that the kingdom of heaven is at hand—right here with us (see Matthew 4:17).
And asked when the kingdom of God should come, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21, New King James Version). In other words, the physical senses are unable to perceive this kingdom, described in the first chapter of Genesis as “very good,” because these senses see, hear, and feel only matter. Yet we truly dwell in this heavenly kingdom of Spirit, not where discord seems to reign as sin, sickness, and death. The more we accept and embrace this truth, the more we come to understand it. This enables us to help ourselves and others to live in “the cosmos of immortal Mind” instead of “the chaos of mortal mind.”
To help us experience heavenly harmony right where we are, the following paragraph from Science and Health outlines the kind of prayer that shapes a harmonious life.
After describing how the world holds a discordant model of life before our gaze continually, Mrs. Eddy says: “To remedy this, we must first turn our gaze in the right direction, and then walk that way. We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives. Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love—the kingdom of heaven—reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear” (p. 248).
As we begin to identify ourselves as permanent residents of what Jesus called “the kingdom of heaven”—the spiritual cosmos of order, harmony, peace, abundance, safety, well-being, divine companionship, and right activity, etc.—the distorted picture of the dusty, misty, restricted, materialistic, discordant depiction of life will proportionately fade from our consciousness and therefore from our experience.
So how is it that “the chaos of mortal mind” can be made the steppingstone to “the cosmos of immortal Mind”? A state of chaos can be a means of advancing and ascending by seeing that, as Science and Health states, “Trials are proofs of God’s care” (p. 66).
That is, when trials occur, we can replace in our thought and prayer the discouraging picture of chaos with the unchanging divine fact that in reality we live in the cosmos, or harmonious system, of God’s creating. As we do this, we prove God’s care is truly present where it seems we are experiencing a trial and help not only ourselves but all humanity to destroy the false picture of confusion and disorder and to advance and ascend in man’s God-given dominion, unfettered freedom, and abundant joy.
God’s all-good kingdom is already here to be seen, accepted, rejoiced about, and dwelt in. Let us identify it as where we, our families, and our world live and move and breathe. It is literally “heaven on earth,” everywhere. So let’s change our address today! Let’s mentally move out of the land of chaos, and consciously live now and eternally in the peace, order, and beauty of God’s kingdom—“the cosmos of immortal Mind.”