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Redemption through God’s love

From the December 2014 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Years ago I committed a staggering act of infidelity. This selfish act contributed to the loss of my marriage and left many people hurt, including those I loved most. To make matters worse, I knew better. I had been raised a Christian Scientist. I’d had Christian Science class instruction. I knew the Ten Commandments. I broke them anyway.

My willingness not only to harbor thoughts of temptation, but also to act on them, left me shocked. My former image of myself, which had included a hefty dose of pride and vanity, was shattered. I felt like the hypocritical Pharisee in Christ Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and publican who went up to the temple to pray (see Luke 18:9–14).

As I saw the hurt I’d caused others, a sharp sense of sorrow came quickly, as did a tearful apology to my loved ones. But what came quite slowly, and took persistent, daily effort, was reformation. This finally came only through consistent, consecrated prayer—prayer to lift me out of the hole of guilt and regret, to help me see my true spiritual identity as innocent, pure, and entirely separate from any act of infidelity.

This prayerful work was difficult and uncomfortable. Many times I wanted to quit, particularly when feelings of guilt made me think I had no right either to pray or to hope for actual healing. But I’d already experienced enough suffering, and there was no way I was going back, no matter how difficult the path ahead.

Somewhere near the bottom of this dark pit came a helpful, important realization: I could forget about trying to find goodness in just a mortal sense of myself. No amount of effort or remorse could turn me into merely a good mortal, separate from my spiritual selfhood. God isn’t a good mortal, nor did He create one—His loved children, who are only good, are immortal, like God. 

This realization was where real healing began. Because instead of looking to physicality or the human body for love and goodness, I began to look elsewhere for regeneration: I began to place all my hopes in spiritual reality.

I became more willing to “come out and be separate” from the material world (see II Corinthians 6:17). In so doing, I saw the importance and great blessings of growing in my understanding of God as the only way to heal myself of physical ills. I learned to love my enemies and to overcome evil with good more consistently.

With this spiritual growth, I slowly became more meek, honest, loving, and moral. In turn, this led to even greater spiritual understanding.

This is where I found the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, very helpful. Through deeply studying these books, working to gain the spiritual sense behind the Bible texts, and learning more about my true spiritual identity, I was slowly able to let go of the false sense of myself as a mortal struggling with lust. 

I began to place all my hopes in spiritual reality.

The more I studied, the more I felt reassured that whatever hidden sin was lurking in my thinking—whatever had made me believe I was somehow separate from God or beyond God’s grace—would become self-evident and be seen as a lie about me, as having nothing to do with my spiritual nature. And that would be the first step toward its destruction.

This spiritual study and sincere effort at spiritual reformation led me to grasp more of the absolute truth of God and man—the spiritual facts of being, which had always been true about God, me, and all creation. Past sins couldn’t change those truths. Letting go of the false sense of myself as mortal, I understood more of spiritual reality, which brought healing to my life.

One key insight that began to emerge about this spiritual reality was that God’s existence is not conditional on anything—meaning that nothing has to exist first before God can exist. This helped me understand that whatever mortality’s claim—whether it seems good or bad—it is complete nothingness. It never touches God or the real man. Mortality does not and cannot define God or limit His boundless action. If God’s power were at all conditional or dependent on some other force, such as matter, then God would not be omnipotent, self-existent.   

Another spiritual truth I began to understand more clearly was that God’s nature is truly infinite. God is not material and cannot be contained in matter. His presence, His being, His action, is everywhere. And He is impartial Love, so He imparts this infinitude, this infinite goodness, by expressing it in His creation. God has not created an infinite number of finite ideas. God has created His entire creation to express infinity. Each mental molecule, each spiritual idea, each action emanating from God, is boundless because God is boundless. Each exists as the reflection of God, without any material condition at all. This realization left me with a sense that no sin, however large or small, can interpose itself between God and man. Because God is infinite, there simply isn’t any room for anything else.

I was incredibly grateful to understand more deeply these metaphysical facts, as well as to see the healing effects they had on me. I could now understand the nothingness of any mortal action—including any claim of sin. 

Seeing these spiritual truths more clearly, I was also able to see how evil would aggressively suggest in thought the opposite of spiritual truth—suggest that God is limited, and that His creation, including man, must be limited and imperfect as well. It is this evil suggestion in thought which, when accepted and acted upon, leads to breaking the Ten Commandments.

Recently, the depth of healing and reformation I experienced since that act of infidelity many years ago became clear. One day while praying, I unexpectedly found myself on my hands and knees, almost prostrate, because of an awakened awareness of the many ways in which I had accepted this aggressive suggestion of evil that God is limited and therefore that sin could have a place and opportunity to govern man. While I usually don’t pray on my hands and knees—prayer is mental—on this particular day I was overwhelmed with humility.

Thankfully, the sorrow and humility I felt this time weren’t about suffering for an evil act. Rather, they were evidence of a repentance that had come about naturally, and gently, from the healing action of divine Science—from a growing spiritual understanding of God and my true identity. With a deep sense of my debt to God, I was profoundly aware of God’s grace in pouring forth His love and how that love had led me forward.

Like the publican described in Jesus’ parable, who was willing to uncover sin in his thinking and be humbled by it (see Luke 18:13, 14), my own willingness to do the same was “justified.” I realized that this sense of humility was actually part of man’s spiritual nature—a gift of God’s grace and an expression of His love. Regardless of the sharp experience that had led me to such a chrysalis state of thought, I was incredibly grateful to now be experiencing that part of the parable that illustrated the divine forgiveness, mercy, and love that the publican must have felt as his humility led him to a higher understanding and worship of God.

This whole experience helped me see that a sincere desire to begin, and to continue, to leave behind the mortal for the immortal, and the material for the spiritual, opens the way to healing, through Christian Science and spiritual understanding. And that understanding redeems, regenerates, and frees us. As the Bible makes clear: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ …. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:4, 5, 8).

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