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‘Gather the wheat’

From the March 2015 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Since God is Love and the only power, then man, all men and women, must be the expression of God, good. Jesus taught us to bless our enemies, to love them. If we look at others honestly, aren’t we bound by divine law to see and accept the same spiritual qualities as inherent in their nature as in ours? Willingness to do this brings out more of the divinity we commonly share as the children of one Father-Mother God. Jesus asked, “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them” (Luke 6:32).

Spiritual sense is the capacity each of us has to discern between what is real—all good—and what is unreal. When we utilize this natural spiritual sense, we can recognize as always present the enduring things of God—including tenderness, meekness, unselfishness, and love—even when faced with contrary material evidence.

Jesus often taught his disciples through parables, from which they gained a deeper understanding of healing and salvation. In the Gospel of Matthew we read of one of these lessons. Jesus used the example of a good man, who planted good seed in his field. His servants noticed that tares, or weeds, were growing up alongside the wheat, and wondered what should be done (see Matthew 13:24–30).

The man warned that if they pulled up the tares, they might also pull up the wheat before it was ready for harvest. He identified the tares as having been sown by an enemy and advised, “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Tares can be likened to a mistaken view of man, which needs to be extracted from our own thought, rather than a person here or a person there—scattered like weeds—in our lives. Things such as personal sense, self-justification, pride, criticism, envy, and revenge often prevent us from seeing man as the reflection of God. It might be an inability to let go of a hurtful conversation or the memory of a trying experience that keeps us focused on the negative. It’s easy to engage in a mental struggle, playing human events over and over in our heads, but by persistently denying that difficult experiences have reality or power to continually hurt us, we can be freed from the negativity and depravity that would attempt to hold us hostage. 

Tares can be likened to a mistaken view of man, which needs to be extracted from our own thought.

Thinking about individual people as the tares in our lives makes evil personal, and goes against what Jesus may have wanted his disciples to take away from his lesson. The tares are thoughts belonging to material sense. They seem to exist and become more defined only if we accept them as real and indulge them. “Evil has no reality,” Mary Baker Eddy writes, “It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 71). I liken it to a speck of dust floating around looking for somewhere to land. It isn’t person we need to pull out of our experience; it is the idea that we are imperfect mortals who have influence or power apart from God. In order for a material belief to have an effect, one would have to admit it has power. But evil can never touch good. Just like in the parable, good and evil seem to grow side by side until spiritual sense—the Christ, or truth operating in our thought—destroys the fear, ruminating, doubt, outlining, human will, which would work against us.

Eddy discovered how the laws of God, which Christ Jesus practiced, can help us. She understood the relevance of his parable of the sower, and writes, “Mortal belief (the material sense of life) and immortal Truth (the spiritual sense) are the tares and the wheat, which are not united by progress, but separated” (Science and Health, p. 72).

For years I looked back on childhood as a place where I was abused and taken for granted. It was easy to dwell on the ways some individuals had hurt me—made me feel insecure, useless, and unworthy of love. But the more I prayed to see the true, spiritual individuality and value of everyone involved, to see them as worthy of love and to apply Jesus’ example of the tares and wheat, the more I was able to see the impotence of these encounters. I could refuse to continue to admit that abuse had any partnership with the man and woman God created or any power to color my life and being as a perfect idea of God.

Eddy writes: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (Science and Health, pp. 476–477). A key phrase in this statement is “in Science”—a correct view of man can be found through spiritual, not material sense. 

Through my prayer and spiritual growth I learned that the ever-presence of Love steers each of us in our relationships with divine inspiration and goodness. Even all these years later, this Love continues to negate the idea that evil influences divided our family, throwing it into crisis on a regular basis. Realizing the spiritual goodness of all the people in my life, I am freed from the idea that anyone could have been a cause for the happiness or unhappiness of our household. The more willing I am to let go of pride, self-justification, and scenes of anger, mistrust, and abuse, the more I see the integrity of those relationships and welcome the joy that shines through.

Now as I look at those I have known in my life, my thought is filled with solid recollections of quality family time, friendships, and learning experiences that have enriched my life; and I am sure, theirs. The material sense of things (i. e.: birth order, economic and political differences, and sibling rivalry) has moved out of the way.    

We may remark about the ways others might have done better, but a sure way to exercise our sincerity and dissolve the doubts and fears we carry from past experiences is to apply charity, an attribute of forgiveness. “Charity,” Eddy writes, “is Love; and Love opens the eyes of the blind, rebukes error, and casts it out. Charity never flees before error, lest it should suffer from an encounter. Love your enemies, or you will not lose them; and if you love them, you will help to reform them” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 210–211). Eddy helps us put into practice what Jesus told us to do with those who don’t treat us well. Clearly this is a necessary steppingstone as we rise above adversity in any form.    

The all-transforming Spirit, manifested in the presence and influence of Christ’s precious love, proves God’s protecting power and illustrates the importance of blessing not just individuals who obviously bring with them Godlike qualities, but also those who seem connected with sorrow or despair. Challenged to grow in grace, we can all learn to forgive and experience freedom beyond the material picture.

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