In his Epistle to the Philippians (2:12,13), Paul wrote:
12 Wherefore, my beloved…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
This imperative statement for each of us to work out our salvation—while fully understanding that it is God who is at once impelling us to do so and actually doing the action—is deeply profound in and of itself.
But a question arises: “What is our responsibility to our neighbor?”
Jesus’ answer is a direct command to all of his followers—for all time:
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils. (Matthew 10:8)
Each of these is loving our neighbor—the Master’s Second Great Commandment. Let’s face it—there is no wiggle room here. If we’re to call ourselves Christians—let alone Christian Scientists—this is our responsibility.
And, as I’ve come to see, healing others is a requirement, necessity, and privilege that is part and parcel of working out our salvation. It’s as essential to being a Christian as is loving God—the First Great Commandment. In fact, we can’t obey one without obeying the other!
I’ve often asked myself, how did a concept that caused some members of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, to be healers while others were not, or thought that they didn’t need to be, come about? Isn’t being a Christian Scientist synonymous with being a public healer? To be clear here, I’m not talking about being a professional healer, necessarily, but about being willing to heal others and doing so.
In Mary Baker Eddy’s Message to The Mother Church, 1901 (p. 15), she stated:
The Christian Scientist has enlisted to lessen sin, disease, and death…
That’s what we’re called upon to do. And make no mistake; this lessening is not just about ourselves, our family members, or our fellow Christian Scientists! And it’s not simply praying about the issues that humanity faces—as important and as necessary as that is. No, it’s about offering to pray for our neighbor—to “Give them a cup of cold water in Christ’s name…” (Science and Health, p. 570). And the opportunities for doing so are abundant. Just listen to nearly any conversation that you encounter—it eventually, if not immediately, turns to someone’s health or personal problems.
In referring to those sacred and absolute commands of Jesus, Mrs. Eddy wrote (Science and Health, p. 37):
When will Jesus’ professed followers learn to emulate him in all his ways and to imitate his mighty works? Those who procured the martyrdom of that righteous man would gladly have turned his sacred career into a mutilated doctrinal platform. May the Christians of to-day take up the more practical import of that career! It is possible, — yea, it is the duty and privilege of every child, man, and woman, — to follow in some degree the example of the Master by the demonstration of Truth and Life, of health and holiness. Christians claim to be his followers, but do they follow him in the way that he commanded? Hear these imperative commands: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect!” “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature!” “Heal the sick!”
Can we honestly think that there’s a way to work out our salvation that wouldn’t include healing others?