Is paradise getting closer?

THE other day in the mail I received not one but two invitations to paradise! The first was from a company soliciting business. If I would purchase its product, my name would be entered in a drawing where the winner would be given one week in paradise. In this case paradise was defined as Hawaii or Alaska. The second invitation came from a nearby mountain resort--that is, nearby when compared to Alaska or Hawaii. The flyer beckoned, ``Come to paradise.'' After reading the mail and sharing the invitations with my wife, I quipped, ``Well, at least paradise is getting closer!'' Later on I thought more deeply about this and wondered, ``Is paradise getting closer?'' That depended on what I considered paradise to be. Was it a long sandy beach or a beautiful mountain lake? The Bible led me to a different view. In the New Testament, the concept of paradise is related to the kingdom of heaven. Christ Jesus' teachings show that this kingdom is not confined to certain beautiful or tranquil locations but is constantly within our reach. He stated, ``The kingdom of God is within you.'' 1 Paradise is at hand, but in order to grasp this we need to cultivate a spiritual understanding of God as boundless Love and of man as inseparable from Love and from its infinite provision. Sensing in prayer God's perfect control over all His creation gives us a deep, heavenly feeling of peace and security. Realizing in silent communion with Him that God tenderly cherishes and supplies each of His children gives us a deep feeling of affection and abundance. Yielding to the reality that man exists only as the expression of God's goodness gives us a deep feeling of worth and purpose. As we come to see the true nature of God and put off the sinful, materialistic elements of thought that would

cloud that perception, we find paradise getting closer. Studying Christian Science acquaints us with the one God, who is never absent, never withholding a speck of good from His creation. Science shows us that God is not allowing, and could never allow, evil to harass His offspring. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good .'' 2 Finding paradise, then, is a present possibility. Joy, health, and satisfaction, ``all good,'' come into our experience as we gain an understanding of God and His perfect spiritual creation. We find paradise getting closer as we live in harmony with this understanding in our daily lives--live with unselfishness, forgiveness, and holiness as the center of our being. We find paradise drawing nearer as we prayerfully combat the aggressive claim that God has lost control of His creation, combat the mistaken

conviction that a material sense of creation, with its inherent injustice and suffering, is the reality that God has created. In short, we approach paradise as we vigorously obey and honor the teachings of Christ Jesus, discerning the truth of God's creation, which transcends what the physical senses mistakenly label ``reality.'' All good, then, is within reach because God is omnipresent. In reality, paradise can't get any closer. God has not cast His children into an ugly, discordant environment. God forever places us, and holds us, in His harmonious kingdom. The only journey we need to take is from dishonesty to honesty, from despair to hope, from preoccupation with matter to faithfulness to the one Spirit. We need to learn that God, Spirit, is the sole definer of our being. Then nothing can keep us from progressively finding and enjoying eternal paradise. 1 Luke 17:21. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 494.

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