How can we achieve freedom? What is its actual nature?
Although the debate over what constitutes, and how to achieve, civil liberties may continue indefinitely, freedom in its deepest sense is an unchanging spiritual fact of being. It belongs to each one of us as God's offspring. Though human conditions would often deny this, we have at our disposal a proven resource that we can all use to help change these conditions for the better--God-centered prayer. The basis of such prayer is the spiritual truth of God and man.
Can we rationally conceive of an infinite, unrestricted God as being a slave to anything evil or counterproductive? No! Then isn't it equally impossible for man, God's image and likeness, to be in such a state?
''God's being,'' writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, ''is infinity, freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss.''n1 Since freedom is included in God's being, it is totally spiritual and an essential, indestructible quality of man, God's image. From the standpoint of this understanding, freedom can be consistently found, appreciated, enjoyed. There's no room for selfishness or conflicts of interest.
n1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 481.
No matter what our background or circumstances, we cannot in reality be deprived of spiritual being and the liberty inherent in it. To be free is a divine right. God, divine Love, is the unfailing provider of all good. He guides and governs His creation through divine law, law that cannot be broken. Claiming our right to experience this divine government in our own lives leads to a step-by-step liberation from whatever would enslave us, whether disease, poverty , confusion, fear. Just think of it! We're actually inseparable from our creator at all times, under all conditions. We might say that we are ever a part of our heavenly Father's family, a perpetual witness to good in action.
Thoughts, concepts, beliefs, that would oppose these truths are the source of enslavement, tyranny. Beliefs that assert man to be an isolated, material being, locked in a cell of personal opinions and problems, victimized by sin, sickness, death, need authoritative denial. These conditions are not part of God's being. They are not part of man's being.
The realization of God's total goodness, together with the rejection of whatever obscures this, is effective, enlightened prayer. Prayer that frees!
Certainly those early Christians, Paul and Silas, found this to be the case. They were unjustly placed in an ''inner prison'' by civil authorities for healing through spiritual means, teaching the Gospel - helping their fellowmen. Yet this didn't shut out their grateful awareness of God's omnipresent love and care. Christ Jesus had said, ''Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.''n2 This approach really worked!
n2 John 8:32.
''And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed,'' the Bible tells us, ''and sang praises unto God.''n3 This brought about not only their own liberation but in a sense the release of their jailer. He accepted the freedom-giving teachings of Christianity.
n3 Acts 16:25.
If prayer and praises to God could free men from incarceration centuries ago, can't they be an effective means to help meet the doubt and panic that would threaten individual freedom today?
Readers of the current Monitor series on challenges to constitutional freedoms may find it helpful to remember some of the things said here. Learning more about God's allness and goodness and opr unity with Him; dropping enslaving beliefs; understanding and feeling that we are loved and cherished; helping others - all these lead to an expansive, uplifting sense of freedom. Freedom that no one can take away.
The way of escape from bondage is as open to us today as it was to Christ Jesus' followers. ''Jesus marked out the way,'' Mrs. Eddy reminds us. ''Citizens of the world, accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free! This is your divine right.''n4
n4 Science and Health, p. 227.
Here is an invitation that none of us can afford to refuse. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. II Corinthians 3:17