Fresh departures

A TELEVISION program I watched recently invited the audience to consider some of the major breakthroughs in history that brought revolutionary change to the world -- changes that transformed thought, correcting entrenched conventional assumptions and opening new vistas of human potential and endeavor. Human flight, for example, had once been dismissed as impossible. Willingness to drop outworn concepts and step into new light undergirds progress in every age. But is progress mainly a question of technological advancement?

Mary Baker Eddy1 offers valuable insight on this topic in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Progress is born of experience,'' she writes. ``It is the ripening of mortal man, through which the mortal is dropped for the immortal.''2

Certainly the life and works of Christ Jesus offer the supreme example of humanity's potential for spiritual progress. They point to the absolute necessity of dropping the mortal for the immortal.

The departures he laid out as guideposts in this development, such as those given in the Sermon on the Mount, were radical,requiring trust in God to the exclusion of all other inclinations, purification of thought, and obedience to God, divine Love, expressed in unrestricted love for others. Those who yield to these divine demands find their lives transformed -- regenerated and healed.

For many during Jesus' time the conventional sense of life as in and of the flesh overshadowed in their thought the truth he was revealing. But for Simon Peter, John, and the other disciples the universe would never again be the same. In the light of what Jesus was revealing to them they could not, ultimately, carry on as they had before.

Through the Way-shower's own obedience to God they had witnessed healings of every dimension. To them, spiritualreality was no longer a vague ideal but aliving power, unmatched by any material aid.

Yet the disciples also discovered that the demand for fresh departures in following Christ was a continuing one. They soon learned that spiritual understanding, not material observation, should impel their expectations. At times their normal perceptions were jolted.

One such stirring incident is recorded in Matthew when Jesus fed more than five thousand people with only a few loaves and fishes. Prior to this event the Bible records, ``Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.''3

When it was evening, the disciples urged him to send the people into the villages where they could buy food, but Jesus said simply, ``They need not depart; give ye them to eat.''

The disciples were undoubtedly puzzled at the request because from their point of view there wasn't nearly enough food. But Jesus was bearing witness to his heavenly Father's complete provision for man. Through healing and teaching he had been bringing to light the spiritual reality of man as already and eternally blessed of the Father. We might say that Jesus' goal was not so much to fill up empty stomachs or even empty lives as to reveal the fullness of God's plan for man, of the creator's constant sustenance of His creation. The result? ``And they did all eat, and were filled.''

``Jesus required neither cycles of time nor thought in order to mature fitness for perfection and its possibilities,'' writes Mrs. Eddy. ``He said that the kingdom of heaven is here, and is included in Mind; that while ye say, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest, I say, Look up, not down, for your fields are already white for the harvest; and gather the harvest by mental, not material processes.''4

What is the distance between spiritual inspiration and healing, between the human need and the actual fulfillment of that need? Isn't it, at least partly, our own willingness to accept Love's tender instruction, God's infinite sustenance, forever at hand; to act out of the conviction of our own and others' spiritual completeness and to be willing to accept that completeness now? Certainly we can begin with trust in God's love and with obedience impelled by fresh perceptions of Love's spiritual demands.

We do not have to do this on our own. The Bible tells us that God is working in us.5 Step by step we can practice fresh departures from deadened expectations, resting in the assurance that our true selfhood is spiritual and whole right now, perpetually fulfilled, and that this reality must come to light in the meeting of every need. We can accept God's love -- and be blessed.

1The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2Science and Health, p. 296. 3See Matthew 14:14-21. 4Unity of Good, p. 11. 5See Philippians 2:13. - NO DAILY BIBLE VERSE TODAY -

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