No one likes being a slave. Feeling helplessly dependent on alcohol, tobacco, or drug use is certainly a kind of slavery. If we've gotten hooked on one or more of these, are we stuck with the addiction? Too often, people who try gaining their freedom through willpower, hypnosis, or substitute dependencies find no permanent release.
The key to real freedom can be found in an understanding of the demonstrable Christianity that Christ Jesus lived and taught.
The Master once proclaimed to his followers, ''Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.'' n1 What kind of truth was he talking about? It was spiritual truth - the reality of God, omnipotent good, and man as His loved offspring.
n1 John 8:32.
As we come to know God better, we discover the truth of ourselves, for man is God's image, His reflection. St. Paul must have discerned this fact. In one of his letters he states, ''We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.'' n2
n2 II Corinthians 3:18.
The Bible teaches that God is Spirit and that He is Love. What, then, is man like as the offspring of Deity? He's not a slave to matter but is spiritual and pure, loving and intelligent, expressing the nature of his creator. We are not really a collection of physical organs and chemical substances.
This truth is not, to say the least, obvious to the earthbound viewpoint of the five physical senses. The senses would convince us that our being is material, vulnerable, destructible, having nothing to do with divine Spirit. But through spiritual sense, awakened by prayer, we begin to perceive that our actual being transcends what material eyes behold. Spiritual sense enables us to feel God's presence and to discern our own Godlike nature.
We can see, then, through spiritual sense, that an addiction is not innate to us - nor is it in any way truly pleasurable. It's an overlay of erroneous thinking, an imposition of materialism that we've ignorantly accepted. Such slavery is unnatural to us and need not be tolerated.
How do we throw off this yoke? By drawing on the strength of Almighty God. It's not through human strength, willpower, or hypnotic suggestion that we find permanent freedom. It's through prayer and the power of divine Spirit that we gain release.
The might of Spirit is not limited and it's not distant from us. Man, in fact , dwells with God and is inseparable from the power of His goodness. We gain strength through prayer that acknowledges God's beneficent presence. This prayer is more than a momentary turning to Deity. It's a constant desire to know our heavenly Father and live in accord with Him.
Sometimes it takes great humility to feel the strength of Spirit. We need a willingness to recognize God as the Father of all, the creator of the universe. We need to know that although human power is limited, God is infinite, governing all through His irresistible law of good. He alone is the source of genuine satisfaction.
Knowing God requires obedience. Our pure desire to be what we truly are - Godlike - is tested in the fire of experience. The demand is to live our prayer. We inevitably feel the strength of Spirit, Love, when we actively express such qualities as integrity, purity, forgiveness, patience, and affection.
Our wrestling with a false sense of self and with enslaving addictions may require persistence. Yet freedom is assured as we feel God's presence in prayer and consistently strive to reflect His power and grace. Comforting us along the way is the knowledge that dominion is natural to us, a God-given gift. Through our prayer we're laying claim to our spiritual inheritance, our innate Christliness.
This reassuring statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Foun-der of Christian Science, can be a strong support in our endeavors: ''Slavery is not the legitimate state of man. God made man free.'' n3 Taking this truth as our standpoint, we'll be certain of victory.
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 227.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. II Corinthians 3:17