God's grace: closing the gap
There seems to be a gap - at times yawning vast and Grand Canyon-like - between what we are in spiritual fact and what we appear to be humanly. We appear to be identified with personal idiosyncrasies, good or bad temperaments, weaknesses, frailties. But in spiritual fact we are the man who is made in the perfect image and likeness of God, just as the Bible declares.
Can we, through human effort alone, leap across the apparent gap? No. But we don't have to. God's grace (and at times this can almost seem miraculous) bridges the gap - shows us that our true being is already and eternally God's ideal offspring. God's love, freely bestowed on us all and felt in the quietness of prayer, highlights our present spiritual perfection. And Christian Science, in accord with the Scriptures, explains how we can increasingly bring to light our actual selfhood, how we can demonstrate spiritual facts.
God is Love, as the Scriptures teach. He is infinite Life, the one all-knowing Mind. Man is created by God in His own likeness. And so man can never depart in quality or condition from his perfect Maker. He is inseparable from the Love and Life and Mind that are God. These facts are available to be proved, even when we feel we are living at a considerable distance from them, because God's grace bridges and closes any chasm, tears down any barrier, that would appear to separate man from his creator.
The book of Ephesians makes an eloquent statement on the effect and power of God's grace, which was so beautifully illustrated in the life of Christ Jesus. Using the metaphor of a wall, rather than a gap, the author of Ephesians tells us: ''Now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.'' n1 Technically, scholars say that ''wall'' refers to a metaphorical barrier between the Jewish people (supposedly those with promise) and the Gentiles (supposedly those without hope). But can't we view it as that division, removed by God's grace, which would seem to separate us from the hope, promise, and truth of what we really are as the likeness of God?
n1 Ephesians 2:13, 14.
All of this is not to imply that we have nothing to do in expressing more of our true nature. We can't simply coast along. If, for example, we have a bad temper, there's a big part for us to play in the sweetening and healing of it. It's not enough to say God's grace will take us the distance. We need to make mighty efforts to curb our tongue, to still violent thoughts before they spill out into words or acts. And our efforts will be increasingly effective as they are underpinned by the prayerful recognition of our actual, spiritual nature.
Man is the likeness of Love, including nothing hateful; he is the expression of Life, perennially blossoming in sweetness and freshness and gentleness; man is the image of Mind, forever expressing wisdom and intelligence. In the degree that we understand and embody these spiritual facts, we will find the difficulty - the bad temper, for instance - diminishing. It will be increasingly natural for us to respond and behave in accord with the reality of our being as the likeness of God.
Are these efforts we're talking about a substitute for God's grace? Actually, they're a natural expression of grace in terms humanity can understand. If it weren't for His grace, even our strongest efforts at rightdoing would be of small effect.
If we're overwhelmed by our own shortcomings and inadequacies, the distance from where we seem to be humanly to our true selfhood as God's likeness may seem immense. And yet to God, there is no gap. ''The miracle of grace is no miracle to Love,'' n2 writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 494.
Because of God's love for man, His perfect creation, it's the most natural thing imaginable that His grace would impel and prosper our every effort to demonstrate that spiritual perfection. DAILY BIBLE VERSE By grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.... We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8, 10