If I were asked to explain Christian Science in only four words, I might reply – “It’s about overcoming fear.” That’s why I was curious to find someone who has mastered one of the greatest fears many people have – encountering a great white shark.
I was recently watching an episode of the television program, “60 Minutes”, when I learned of Mike Rutzen of South Africa. According to the program, Mike is working to help people not be afraid of great whites and all other sharks.
In contrast to popular belief, he does not believe sharks are out to kill us. Instead, he sees them as smart and curious. To prove this, he has been swimming with them unharmed for over ten years. He feels he’s not being reckless, as some critics claim, but interacting with them in a mostly mental relationship. He believes that his safety in the water is not dependent on a protective steel cage but is directly related to his thoughts, stressing the importance of always being calm and fearless.
His remarks sound similar to what I’ve learned in my study of the practice of Christian Science, which includes being calm and unafraid and understanding that thoughts govern our experience. This practice is founded on spiritual principles of God–principles or laws that govern our lives harmoniously when properly applied.
I don’t know if Mike is trusting God each time he gets in the water, but I’m sure his thought involves more than just positive thinking. Positive thinking or just trying to keep happy thoughts could be dangerous. I doubt that’s his approach and it’s certainly not Christian Science either.
Although I’ve never read or heard Mike mention his love for sharks, I feel his actions testify to it. For many years, he has been a leading conservationist fighting for their continued survival. He works full-time to ensure people across the world have a greater understanding of them. This love may be significant in his success, because the New Testament notes, “Love overcomes fear.”
And speaking of the Bible, his actions remind me of Daniel in the lions’ den. Daniel rejected the worldview of fearful, man-eating lions and they never harmed him. Christian Science is based on the Bible, which provides clear instruction on the subject. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (II Tim. 1:7)
I invite you to turn off the soundtrack and enjoy the video below. The last scenes of Mike hanging onto the dorsal fin of a great white shark are amazing!