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The gift God gives—at Christmas and every day

From the December 2018 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Right now, across the globe, there is a great focus on Christmas, including a particular emphasis on the tradition of gifts and gift-giving. It would seem there has been a shift away from the Christ in Christmas, toward commerce, as the measure of a successful holiday season is calculated in revenue rather than the amount of peace on earth and universal goodwill. Yet, isn’t the gift most needed today the message of the Christ? It is the divine goodness Jesus lived and preached that enables one, during this holiday season and all year long, to know and express the essence of the greatest gift: God’s gift of life—that is, one’s life based in God, who is Life itself and the source of all true being. 

God, as divine Life, expresses spiritual qualities such as vitality, generosity, and thoughtfulness in every individual. In the Bible, we read that this is possible because God’s power is not limited: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1). How could God ever express less than the might of infinite, immortal Life? 

Christ Jesus illustrated the present possibility of understanding, seeing, and demonstrating the full nature of eternal spiritual life. By showing us the higher, holier, more spiritual basis of living, he gave us the gift of knowing more about God and the true nature of ourselves and others as God’s spiritual reflection. With this understanding we can express, to some degree, the dominion Jesus demonstrated in challenging, rebuking, and destroying any belief in a power opposed to God, whether it be called sickness in whatever form; sin, including immorality, hatred, and self-centered ambition; or death, including physical, mental, or moral death. 

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, writes of Christ Jesus’ mission to save those who suffer from the terrible effects of believing in a power apart from God: “Jesus came to seek and to save such as believe in the reality of the unreal; to save them from this false belief; that they might lay hold of eternal Life, the great reality that concerns man, and understand the final fact,—that God is omnipotent and omnipresent; yea, ‘that the Lord He is God; there is none else beside Him,’ as the Scriptures declare” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 63).

This understanding includes a conscious awareness of one’s identity as wholly Godlike and therefore eternal. And what can compare to knowing that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23)? This gift of God includes the everlasting perfection, inviolability, and uninterrupted wisdom of our spiritual identity, and the present possibility of demonstrating that all power, all presence, all substance, and all law belong to God alone.

What was most needed was devout, consecrated, humble prayer. 

The proof of this priceless fact of our identity that Jesus came to illustrate was brought home to me many times throughout my childhood and even when I began to have children of my own. For example, when one of our sons was a newborn, a doctor diagnosed him as having a severe case of jaundice and said that immediate treatment would be required. My lifelong practice of Christian Science had shown me repeatedly, through the healing of physical challenges, that I could responsibly pray to God as “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1). And so, I immediately began to give Christian Science treatment, which meant I prayed to understand man’s immortal, inseparable relation to God. In obedience to the First Commandment to have only one God, I honored Him in understanding the two cardinal points of Christian Science, which are the allness of God, good, and the utter nothingness of an error or concept opposed to good. 

As I mentally affirmed these spiritual truths, I remember praying aloud to our infant son about our gratitude for the perfection of God’s gift of life and for his wholly spiritual nature. And silently, I firmly held to God’s allness as creator and cause, our son’s inseparable relation to God as His expression, and God’s infinite, unwavering, supreme care for His creation. Through being receptive to the Christ, I knew that nothing about creation deviated from present spiritual perfection. I recognized that the divine law of Life is never usurped or rendered null and void by a mortal estimate or material explanation of life. I understood that there was no material law to object to or resist the truth of being, and I expressed gratitude to God that He blesses, upholds, knows, and maintains each one of His precious children. I trusted these truths with the understanding that God—the only creator and supreme Lawgiver—made and maintains man, and that His work is finished, complete, and established as permanently, eternally good. 

When the medical nurse observed our son about twenty minutes later, she said, “That baby is no more jaundiced than I am.” And so it was. The results of the test they subsequently performed were negative.

Another time, when our other son was out of college, he became exceedingly anxious about his future. He had been well educated, but was fearful about his next steps. Although he was talking things over with his brother and friends, who deeply cared about him, he was noncommunicative with us, his mom and dad.

One day as I prayed, I felt a calm, Christlike message to trust that our son was truly one with God. I knew that the divine relationship he had with his Father-Mother God had existed long before he had been born into our family. The basis for this idea is found in the first few words of Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Mary Baker Eddy explains that the word beginning here is used to represent “the only” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 502); that means the only creation is this: God creates the heaven and the earth, and man in His exact image and likeness. Everything else is just bad press about the one and only, pure and perfect Life. I prayed continually throughout the year and unequivocally trusted that the Christ was communicating God’s truth to our son in a way that he could understand.

The Christ, Truth, dawns in human consciousness irresistibly, irrepressibly, and irreversibly. 

As a parent, I found that the God-given grace to walk through this time without fear and with the absolute conviction that God was caring for His own, gave me the gifts of strength and clarity to stand with the truth of being only. Any time spent on fear, speculation, rumination, and doubt was not going to be helpful. After all, it would have been utterly useless to work this problem out from two diametrically opposed standpoints: one starting from the basis of God’s perfection and the other starting from the basis of imperfection. Starting with imperfection would only keep peace from being restored in our son’s life and in our home. What was most needed and called for was the devout, consecrated, humble prayer that acknowledged God as our son’s loving, ever-present, ever-guarding divine Parent, enabling me to glimpse more of the omnipotent healing presence of the Christ. 

Recognizing the absolute necessity of leaning wholeheartedly on God, I began to see more clearly that creation is God-bestowed, God-blessed, and God-inspired, governed by God, expressing the perfect, omnipotent, omnipresent nature of infinite good. This brought the gift of eternal life sharply into focus. I understood God to be the Giver and that my role was to prayerfully witness the power of the Christ to comfort and restore complete freedom to our son, enabling him to think and act rightly. 

From the time I gained this clarity, there was no process my son had to go through to get better; he had a sudden and immediate clear sense of his purpose and direction in life. Since that time over ten years ago, he has been happily engaged and successful in a very worthwhile career.

To some, healings like this may look like miraculous gifts from God. In reality, they are the effect of understanding God’s universal gift of eternal life. The gift of eternal life, where man is seen to be as perfect as His Maker, is freely given to all. In First Peter 4:10, we read, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” We can no more keep the proof of this gift to ourselves than Christ Jesus or the Discoverer of the Science of the Christ did. 

As active a time as it seems right now at this holiday season, let’s remember to pause to celebrate Christ this Christmas. Pause to recognize and be profoundly, unreservedly grateful for the greatest gift of all: the gift of God, eternal life as demonstrated as a present possibility by Christ Jesus. Know daily that your heavenly Father-Mother loves you, and that the Christ, Truth, dawns in human consciousness irresistibly, irrepressibly, and irreversibly to those ready to receive it. As you follow the teachings of Christ Jesus and understand your precious relation to God as His beloved, beheld, and blessed child, you will know and experience that Christmas is celebrated not one day a year, but every day. It is characterized by the vitality of life, the beauty of purpose, and the gratitude of heavenly peace that the ever-present Christ brings to us.

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