"In Spirit and in Truth"

        The fourth chapter of John’s gospel is much studied by Christian Scientists, because it presents in such definite terms the distinction made by Christ Jesus between spiritual reality and mortal belief. We have in it a vivid picture of the great Teacher sitting beside Jacob’s well, “wearied with his journey,” hungry and thirsty, and waiting for his students to return with some food. As he sat there a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and it seemed natural that he should ask her for a drink. The woman, however, at once voiced racial and religious prejudice, and tacitly refused to grant his request. Instead of arguing the case from a material viewpoint, Jesus at once declared for the spiritual basis of existence which makes all men kin. He began by telling her of “living water,” and although she was evidently well grounded in dogma and tradition, she failed to comprehend his words; but nothing daunted, he went on until that immortal declaration was reached: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him much worship him in spirit and in truth.”

         It would seem that this woman was a thinker, but without any true moral standard, as are so many today; indeed this standard can never be found anywhere except “in spirit and in truth.” She had sought happiness in drinking from the shallow cisterns of material belief, — where it can never be found, — and now she was to learn, from one who knew, of God as Spirit and man as a spiritual being. Her heart must have been deeply touched when Jesus told her that the Father was seeking the true worshipers, and that spiritual worship is not a characteristic of time or place, but a vital fact which lays hold upon eternity. On page 78 of Science and Health we read: “Spirit blesses man, but man cannot ‘tell whence it cometh.’ By it the sick are healed, the sorrowing are comforted, and the sinning are reformed.”

         In spite of mortal and material belief, there is no true healing, comfort, or reformation until one is awakened to the fact that because God is Spirit man is spiritual. Then for him true worship and true living must ever be in spirit and in truth. Most people are willing to admit that if there is a future life man will then be spiritual, but it is generally held that he is material now, though some would say that he is both material and spiritual. Christian Science, however, unequivocally teaches that “Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual” (Science and Health, p. 468). The Master said to the Samaritan woman, “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth,” and to these words we may well cling.

         We read that when the disciples returned, bringing material food, Jesus refused it, telling them that he had other meat than that of which they knew, and that it was found in doing the Father’s will. The momentary appeal of the physical senses in hunger, thirst, and weariness had been silenced by his declarations of spiritual truth, and he saw, far beyond that hour, the harvest time when humanity would live by truth spiritually discerned, and we rejoice in knowing this at the present day. Christian Scientists have at times to meet strenuous objections to their efforts to include in their divine service or “worship” the healing of the sick without material means, but the student of Christian Science finds his authority and support in the Master’s words, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

         This divinely provided remedy for human want and woe is ever with us, and though the well is deep, it cannot be said that we have “nothing to draw with.” Little did the Samaritan woman know that the understanding of Spirit and of Truth reaches infinite depths and brings up the living water, but we know it today through the faithful work of our revered Leader, Mrs. Eddy, and rejoice in being able to prove for ourselves the truth taught by Christ Jesus.


"In Spirit and in Truth" by Annie M. Knott, CSD
Christian Science Sentinel, May 20, 1916

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