I have found that in Christian Science there is a way to see rebellion in a spiritual light. Christian Science teaches that through following Christ Jesus’ example, we can rebel against any evil that we see or come across.
Christ Jesus was the perfect model of rebelling spiritually through the authority given of God. He overcame every phase of evil, disease, sin, and lack. He rebelled against religious hypocrisy; he overcame sickness, physical limitation, and even death through divine authority; and he resisted the claim that material wealth is more powerful than Spirit by providing food in the wilderness and lifting up the poor.
Mary Baker Eddy uses words such as God-given authority, resist, and rebellion to illustrate the spiritual power we each have to overcome limitation, hatred, sickness, or any other form of evil. She writes, “Instead of blind and calm submission to the incipient or advanced stages of disease, rise in rebellion against them” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 391). Statements such as this one show us that we have the right to stand up to error—beliefs misrepresenting the true nature of God and man.
Mrs. Eddy also writes, “Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man” (Science and Health, p. 393). The phrase “resist all that is unlike good,” or God, is a powerful statement. Any error that comes to thought—sickness, fatigue, lack—we have the right, ability, and power to resist, because it is not to be found in God’s original spiritual creation. Resisting is an important step in our prayers, because it is a big “No!” to allowing anything but God and the light of Love into our consciousness.
According to dictionary.com, several definitions of vitiate are “to impair or weaken the effectiveness of,” “to debase; corrupt; pervert,” and “to make legally defective or invalid; invalidate.” Nothing has the power to impair, weaken, debase, or invalidate what we are as God’s spiritual image and likeness, or our ability to know our true identity. So it doesn’t matter how long we have entertained a limiting, material suggestion about ourselves; we can stand up at any point and resist it.
In my teenage years, I drifted into being a rebellious teenager who resisted authority. This rebellion is the opposite of spiritual rebellion. Whenever a rule was made, I second-guessed the reasonableness of it and the authority of those around me. I also felt I had to learn from my own experiences and mistakes rather than heeding the wisdom of others. At the time, I felt this gave me control of my life, thoughts, and actions—not realizing that I was actually letting myself be controlled by the wrong choices I was making. However, this rebellious and resistant nature was turned around through a spiritual transformation that took place while I was reading the Scriptures. (You can read more about this in “Rediscovering me, childlike and free,” Christian Science Sentinel, August 16, 2010.)
As a parent now myself, I can see clearly the obvious contrast between this unnatural and unhelpful rebellion and the God-given dominion and rebellion that Mrs. Eddy describes, which Christ Jesus embodied. Unhelpful rebellion resists just for the sake of resisting, without thoughtful reasoning or perceiving the consequences ahead of time. It is a form of human willfulness, shortsightedness, and stubbornness.
Righteous rebellion yields to God’s loving control, and to expressing the qualities of God. It resists oppression, hatred, self-condemnation, self-righteousness, illness, and a “me first” attitude through yielding to God’s guidance. It counteracts these elements with spiritual qualities such as peacefulness, humility, compassion, and a recognition of the Christ-power that is present to uplift and heal. This kind of spiritual rebellion uproots evil that has lodged itself in difficult personality traits, impairing physical conditions, discordant households, corrupt businesses, and unethical governments.
The same Holy Spirit that Jesus manifested is here with us today. This Christ-spirit works within human consciousness to guide every man, woman, and child. We each have the ability and power to resist any material suggestions that would tempt us. The authority of Christ, Truth, enables us to resist, rebel against, and overcome every phase of evil.
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