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The delight of divinity

From the March 2017 issue of The Christian Science Journal

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I teach Sunday School, and I’ve been observing and appreciating the charm (one meaning of that word is the power or quality of giving delight) that our Sunday School students express. There was the cartwheel after Sunday School ended; the second grader singing the hymns at the top of his lungs (and in tune!); the high schooler’s recounting of the touchdown pass he caught. Each pupil came with a showing and giving of delight.

Considering the challenges that face individuals and the world as a whole, it’s important to remember that to give pure delight, or to receive it, is a natural outcome of our relationship to God, of our actual nature as His spiritual image, His expression. Man, the image of God, includes the quality of joy. So regardless of how dark things appear at times, or how difficult the way forward may seem, our sense of pure delight is an indestructible characteristic of what we really are, and it can be recognized and expressed, even in bleak circumstances. This isn’t to disregard what may need healing in our lives or worldwide. Instead, God-derived delight promotes healing by helping bring to light the harmony of spiritual reality in everyday life.

Our sense of pure delight is an indestructible characteristic of what we really are.

Christ Jesus clearly indicated the direct relation we all have to God when he said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). We all have a permanent relation to our creator; a relation of oneness with Soul, which is a Bible-derived term for God that Mary Baker Eddy used in her writings. God, Soul, is always delighting in His spiritual creation, and man, Soul’s reflection, is forever delighting in being God’s creation. You can’t have one without the other. Soul knows its reflection as totally joyous, totally content, totally at peace. You might say that Soul cannot contain its delight in its expression, man, any more than the sun can contain its shining. Man’s ability to feel and reflect this delight cannot be contained any more than the sun’s rays can contain their light and warmth. This is an unchanging spiritual truth, and it’s expressed in human experience as more than a smile on the face. It’s a smile from the heart.

But what if it seems difficult to feel delighted or delightful? What if joy seems to be smothered by feelings of sadness or of being overwhelmed by circumstances? In harmony with the Bible’s teaching that God is Love (see I John 4:8) and omnipresent (see Jeremiah 23:24), Christian Science assures us that God’s all-encompassing love is here, now. Every one of us, then, has the God-given ability, through prayer, to shut out dark mental impressions and listen for God’s loving thoughts—which are always true—and to feel God’s embracing delight in us. Even if the clouds are thick, they won’t last forever. We know the sun is always shining. In the same way, God is always present and caring for us, despite the darkness of any particular moment. He is always delighting in and maintaining the perfection of His creation.

When a sense of delight seems distant, even unobtainable, there is an answer, and it has to do with the all-powerful, unchanging love of God, illustrated so vividly in the Bible. If we feel overwhelmed, we can always turn to the timeless lessons in the Scriptures and take them to heart. Here God’s care for man and His healing power are repeatedly proved. And such proof is a realistic expectation today, because the spiritual truth on which it is based is timeless.

Jesus once sent seventy followers into the cities and other places to heal the sick. The account says, “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name” (Luke 10:17). They returned with joy after proving that nothing could hinder their demonstration of the healing Christ-power. They must have confronted many challenges along the way. But Christ, the divine message coming directly from God to the receptive heart, healed those situations. Today and always the timeless, healing Christ is present, imparting to all the message of spiritual truth that dissolves human ills and restores our God-given joy through Christian healing.

Since beginning to understand even in a small degree my divine right to feel and express delight, I’ve felt a stronger sense of spiritual buoyancy developing. I’ve been better able to stay on top of or bounce back from anything that would try to pull me down. My prayer has become more inspired. I’ve been asking myself, “Do I feel delight while praying and have a delighted expectation when done praying?” I’ve seen the power of divine Truth reverse the false suggestion that prayer can become routine. I’ve been enabled to understand that the inspiring force of divine good is leading my prayers and that Soul provides us with steady inspiration and fresh ideas in prayer. Prayer becomes buoyant with delight as we recognize the divine power impelling it, and we grow in our expectation of healing.

I’ve been enabled to understand that the inspiring force of divine good is leading my prayers and that Soul provides us with steady inspiration and fresh ideas in prayer.

I’ve also experienced what I call an improved sense of church-delight. This message from God to Samuel has been a valuable starting point for me in gaining a higher concept of church as much more than a group of like-minded mortal personalities meeting twice a week: “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). Looking only at the outward appearance of fellow worshipers isn’t looking at their actual, Godlike nature, and it can distract thought from the true, spiritually elevating purpose of church. Every church member and attendee is, in truth, a distinct spiritual idea of God, created by divine Love to fulfill a specific purpose in Love’s universe. Every worshiper, then, can be seen as making a significant, useful contribution to the church service as a direct result of Love’s sovereign presence influencing each one’s thought and action. The consciousness of this divine presence replaces with genuine, selfless love any opportunity for criticism, self-importance, or action based merely on mortal history. I’ve found that as I endeavor to worship with this biblically based truth from First Samuel—looking on the heart—uppermost in thought, the wonder of Christ’s healing activity in church becomes more apparent. Love gives us the desire and the ability to delight in others and to know that they are delighting in us. 

We have a God-given right to spiritual joy. It makes us naturally buoyant and speeds healing. 

It might even be cause to celebrate with a mental cartwheel down the church aisle!

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