EVERY time I'm tempted to scold my son for something he's done, I remember the father in Christ Jesus' parable of the prodigal son. To me, he was a model parent! The younger of this man's two sons one day took his share of the family wealth and promptly squandered it on the fast life far from home. The tired, old parental response to such behavior might simply have been a narrow-minded ``I hope you learned your lesson'' attitude.
But not this dad! When the prodigalreturned, humbly acknowledging his wrongdoing, his father said, ``Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.''1Perhaps one of the lessons learned by the prodigal was that with his return home he would take on larger responsibilities and more work. But most important, doesn't such an uncondemning response reflect that deep spiritual love characterized by John's words ``God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved''?2
Condemnation can weigh heavily on children; it wrongly encourages the ``I'm no good'' habit of thinking about themselves. And doesn't it fly in the face of the way God, the one Father-Mother, sees each of His offspring in His universal spiritual family? Isn't it natural to think of God as good, as a God of love? Because this is His nature, goodness and love characterize what God creates and sees eternally. Then goodness and love, as well as purity, are inherent in every individual identity in God's family.
Taking this line of logic further, think about what happens in God's government of His family. If He created through love, and if His creation reflects Him -- His goodness and love -- isn't it logical that love be His mode of governing?
Yet we do see gross wrongdoing in our world. And families often find they have to face wrongdoing on the part of a child. Because this sinfulness -- even if it appears to offer some temporary benefit -- actually works against the one involved, it is not in God's law of love that it continue.
How then does God's law correct sin? Christian Science is of the greatest help here. It teaches that sin is not really part of man, though it might seem to be ingrained in a particular individual. This Science doesn't overlook what needs correcting; it doesn't ignore evil, but it does show us how to separate sin from our view of another in order to forward healing. To expand on this a little, Christian Science builds naturally on the Biblical truths that affirm the spiritual beauty and sinlessness of man. It teaches that the real, God-created selfhood of each individual is spiritually whole and is not divided between good and evil. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says, ``The sinless joy, -- the perfect harmony and immortality of Life, possessing unlimited divine beauty and goodness without a single bodily pleasure or pain, -- constitutes the only veritable, indestructible man, whose being is spiritual.''3
Discerning something of this spiritual reality, we can respond with unreserved love to our children. This is not to condone wrongdoing but to see beyond it to the truth that leads to healing.
Once we make the effort to see that wrongdoing has no legitimacy in God's sight or as a true part of His creation, we can make headway in destroying it. It is not of God, and therefore has no Godderived power to enslave someone's thinking.
It may require great patience and lots of love to make the necessary progress in any given instance. But, as the Bible tells us, ``The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.''4 Silent prayer is a sure promoter of healing.
Prayer often involves turning wholeheartedly to God and away from another person's actions. It is in God and in what God is doing that we find the truth of man. As we hold to that truth, we'll find no condemnation in our hearts, and we'll be ready for real progress! Then, too, we'll see the wisdom and justice of our heavenly Father-Mother at work.
1Luke 15:22. 2John 3:17. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 76. 4James 5:16.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Luke 6:37