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A new life and a new song

From the January 2017 issue of The Christian Science Journal

As a new year approaches, our heart may yearn for our life to sing a new song, one that is better in some way—kinder, healthier, more productive, less worry, more freedom. And down deep within ourselves, perhaps we are struggling to overcome some seemingly ingrained habit, character trait, or chronic affliction that we’ve tried many times, with little or no success, to free ourselves from. Human will has proved to be a fruitless way of going forward, and New Year’s resolutions have come and gone with nothing to show for them. 

But a deeper look into the teachings of Christ Jesus gives reason for hope. He taught and proved that the tender love of God is here to bring forth a magnificent renewal within us. I’m thinking, for example, of an account in the Gospel of Mark (see 1:21–27). Jesus cast “an unclean spirit” out of a man. At that time it was believed that there were evil spirits that could enter a person and control him or her. Today, when the story is read, it is generally assumed that the man was suffering from some kind of insanity. So, if Jesus could, through the authority of God’s benevolent will, cure that man, what might we learn from this story about overcoming those problems that have been so stubbornly hanging on to us? 

Jesus had been teaching in the synagogue while that man was present, and the authority with which Jesus spoke astonished the people. In fact, the “unclean spirit,” or spirits, claiming possession of that man began a loud protest: “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” Well, yes, Jesus had come to destroy that out-of-control mental state in order to free the man from its domination. Jesus stepped right up to the challenge and rebuked it, saying, “Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” And yes, stubborn resistance made one last desperate effort to hold on to the man, but then, after crying out “with a loud voice,” it came under the authority of the Christ, and “came out of him.” End of story; the man was free.

From this we can see that a good way to approach the New Year could very well be to consider it as a new opportunity—an opportunity to let the benevolent will of God work in us, so that we might be set free, once and for all, from those entrenched problems that seem to have a stubborn penchant for holding on to us. Because of Mary Baker Eddy’s experience and confidence in the effectiveness of the divine Science Christ Jesus practiced—proving God’s will to be alone equal to the task of setting people free—she certainly greeted the New Year of 1910 as a new opportunity. On the morning of January 1, with the members of her household present, she extemporaneously wrote the following verse: 

O blessings infinite! 
   O glad New Year! 
Sweet sign and substance 
   Of God’s presence here. 

(The First Church of Christ, Scientist,
and Miscellany, p. 354)

When a person’s thought humbly yields to Christ’s renewing influence, that definitely is a “sweet sign and substance of God’s presence.” Perhaps Mrs. Eddy was thinking of that when she defined year, in part, as “space for repentance” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 598).

A new year is an opportunity to repent of a material approach to solving life’s problems. It’s an opportunity to allow the loving Christ to change the way we identify ourselves. To reason from the standpoint of the divine Science of being, which explains Spirit as the only real substance, and man (every individual) as Spirit’s expression. To recognize ourselves as Spirit’s flawless spiritual creation, and any stubborn material flaws as no part of us.

With this spiritual knowledge of what we are as God’s perfect spiritual expression, we can joyfully and peacefully yield to God’s will. Reflecting His supreme authority, we can rebuke any supposed “unclean spirit,” or false material belief, stubbornly claiming to be a part of our being. Despite its apparent desperate attempt to claim a hold on us, it has no authority or power against the will of God. Its powerlessness being exposed, it will have no way of hanging on, and we will be free.

Jesus is our supreme example of how to gain our freedom from any stubborn material belief—from any trait, tendency, or affliction that is no part of our being as God’s reflection. Mrs. Eddy wrote of Jesus: “When the human element in him struggled with the divine, our great Teacher said: ‘Not my will, but Thine, be done!’—that is, Let not the flesh, but the Spirit, be represented in me. This is the new understanding of spiritual Love. It gives all for Christ, or Truth. It blesses its enemies, heals the sick, casts out error, raises the dead from trespasses and sins, and preaches the gospel to the poor, the meek in heart” (Science and Health, p. 33).

So, here’s a new opportunity each of us can nurture within ourselves this year: Let me yield to God’s will! At every turn in my daily life, “Let not the flesh, but the Spirit, be represented in me.” Whenever materiality in any form claims a stubborn hold on us, or even suggests such a possibility, we can step back mentally and ponder the reality of God’s being, and our true identity as His flawless, spiritual being. We can yield to the will of divine Love, exercise the authority we reflect from Him, rebuke false claims, and regain our freedom.

The Psalmist wrote, “O sing unto the Lord a new song” (Psalms 96:1). Every day presents new opportunities to “Let not the flesh, but the Spirit, be represented” in us. In proportion as we yield to God’s will in this way, our lives will sing a new song—the song of freedom under the authority of divine Love.

Barbara Vining

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