ONE of the New Testament letters assures us, ``God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.''1 This verse was written centuries ago, but it is still a fresh reminder that even in the severest conditions the Christly gift of God is available. These words surely describe the spirit of Christianity that Christ Jesus taught and demonstrated. Christian Science reveals that the spirit of Christ's Christianity -- spiritual power, fearless love, and a sound, disciplined state of thought -- is as alive with healing and liberation now as it was in Jesus' time. Freedom from sickness, sin, injustice, is possible now because God is supreme now and the man of His creating -- our real, spiritual selfhood -- is whole and free, and this reality can be brought to light in our lives. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, declares: ``Citizens of the world, accept the `glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free! This is your divine right.''2
Prisons don't always have walls. Sometimes sin and lack may seem like unyielding limitations. Yet not one form of bondage has the power to prevent us from seizing the opportunity to make spiritual progress. The more desperate the circumstance, the greater the need to turn to God -- to the one source of genuine freedom. The Psalmist said, ``God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.''3 Barriers can become blessings if they impel us to turn to prayer.
Prayer can take place anytime anywhere. It can be as simple as a quiet, humble desire just to become acquainted with God and to know His loving nature better. Such silent communion is rewarded according to its sincerity. Fearful pleading to get God to act on one's behalf may not bring His gentle presence to light, but stillness of thought, listening for His direction, yearning to know His will and willingness to obey it -- this is the heartfelt prayer that removes barriers of hopelessness. The infinite, ever-present Father is never far away, and prayer reveals the Christly peace that enables the receptive heart to feel God's healing presence.
Study of the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy inspires prayer and brings spiritual enlightenment that uplifts and saves. Through such study and prayer a young man who had been arrested unjustly was freed in a few hours; a woman who was wrongly accused of hit-and-run driving was quickly found to be blameless and was exonerated; and an unfair lawsuit that threatened to be an expensive and long-lasting ordeal was thrown out of court in one day. Certainly not all difficult experiences are resolved so quickly, but these examples had one important factor in common. In each case the individuals involved steadfastly refused to succumb to fear and anger, and each clung faithfully to the liberating power of Christly love.
Even if one is imprisoned because he has committed a crime, he is free to accept the gift of Christly love and spiritual progress. To be free from the tendency to do wrong, one must accept the gift and be willing to let it transform his character. Repentance is a beginning, not a dead end. It opens the door that leads to regeneration and reformation and finally freedom from harmful thoughts and behavior. Science and Health states: ``Sorrow for wrong-doing is but one step towards reform and the very easiest step. The next and great step required by wisdom is the test of our sincerity, -- namely, reformation.''4
Not fear, but the Christly gift of spiritual power, love, and a sound mind brings the freedom of regeneration. In that righteous endeavor no one is ever alone. Speaking of the Christ he so perfectly exemplified, Jesus promised, ``Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.''5 The works of Jesus show what he meant by that promise, for healing appeared wherever there was need -- on hillsides, in homes, in crowds beset by sickness, immorality, and lack. This timeless salvation is ever with us, always offering the powerful liberty of God through Christian love and through an understanding of the present spiritual perfection of God and man. Even in the midst of oppression, we are free to accept the gift.
1II Timothy 1:7. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 227. 3Psalms 46:1. 4Science and Health, p. 5. 5Matthew 28:20. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. II Corinthians 9:15