IT was an ordinary question, I thought. I asked our bed and breakfast host if we could have two keys to the cottage we were renting for the week. ``Oh,'' she said, ``we never lock anything here.... We've never had a problem.'' Clearly, we were vacationing in a setting very different from the one we were used to. I thought back to how carefully we had locked, then double-checked, the doors and windows of our house before leaving. What a contrast this was!

There's no question that burglary is commonplace in urban and suburban areas. Sociologists and criminologists offer explanations for the thievery taking place: fading moral values, drug addiction, entrenched poverty, and so on.

But what is it, fundamentally, that causes people to steal from one another? Perhaps we could say the root causes are mental ones: hopelessness, greed, fear, anger, confusion. These negative states of thought are not indelible, however. And we can help eradicate them by turning to God in prayer and acknowledging His infinite, ever-present good. As we discern the power of God, divine Spirit, to care for and govern man, our lives will surely show the influence of His presence.

The Scriptures reveal the true nature of Deity. Particularly in the New Testament, God is revealed as divine Love itself, the divine Parent who nurtures and guides each individual as a treasured offspring.

The Master, Christ Jesus, understood God's tender, never-failing love. In teaching his followers the true nature of Deity, Jesus told a story of a man with two sons: one rebellious and the other obedient. The rebellious son left home and squandered his inheritance. But, as Luke's Gospel records the story, this son ``was lost, and is found.'' When he realized what he had done, he repented and returned home. There was a lavish celebration on his behalf, which caused the son who had remained home to be angry. In reassurance, the father said, ``Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.''

This, of course, is how our heavenly Father relates to each one of His children. He is always giving each of His children all good. But we may need to be reminded that God's boundless good is available to all. It's a lesson we learn by degrees. Gradually we accept the idea that man's heritage is spiritual and includes wisdom, integrity, dominion, and true satisfaction.

The key to this awakening is our increased understanding of man's nature as God's spiritual offspring. If we believe men and women are no more than human personalities with inherent flaws and limitations, we think of them as separate from divine Spirit, God, and His infinite good. But when we see that in truth man is the very idea, or expression, of Spirit and is formed in God's image, we know that the creation (man) can never be separate from his creator. Christian Science, discovered and founded by Mary Baker Eddy, explains that what humanity appears to be is very different from what God knows about man. Divine Spirit knows man as he truly is: spiritual and whole.

In her book The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, Mrs. Eddy explains, ``Wholly apart from this mortal dream, this illusion and delusion of sense, Christian Science comes to reveal man as God's image, His idea, coexistent with Him -- God giving all and man having all that God gives.''

To live in a world where doors are unlocked, we first need to discover our own spiritual heritage, which is the heritage of each of us. Then we can discern in prayer that man is already God's child, beautifully made and bountifully cared for. As we accept this spiritual fact, we'll see signs that both we and our fellow citizens are leading more lawful lives.

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