Forwarding Freedom

ALTHOUGH there are signs of progress in humanity's quest for freedom, much remains to be done. People in nations around the world--in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and even in Europe--long to experience true liberty. Who of us doesn't share similar longings, wherever we live?We can find more freedom in our own lives, through prayer. And prayer has a way of encouraging those who are working toward freedom. I remember attending a talk by an Anglican clergyman who had been falsely accused and imprisoned. He said that during his imprisonment, he had taken strength from the knowledge that people around the world were praying for him and for his country. This sustained him until his release, and it energized his efforts on behalf of freedom afterward. Christ Jesus' ministry is a wonderful illustration of the liberating effects of prayer. Throughout his life, he was able to free people from sickness, from sin, from dishonesty, and from other troubles. He did this by teaching people to know God and their inseparable relationship to Him. He showed them that God is good and how to trust God in every aspect of their lives. The early Christians had ample opportunity to learn how God's power would help them. Paul, for example, experienced his own share of God's help when he was in dan-ger. He declared succinctly of this divine help in his second letter to the Corinthians: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. This statement gives us a starting point in praying for liber-ation for ourselves and for those around the world. For instance, when love, truth, goodness, intelligence, gentleness, and courage are present, these are evidences of the spiritual nature of man. And because man is the expression of God, these qualities actually illustrate the presence of God. When we see signs of qualities like these, we can be encouraged because they show that God is present, even if we can't see Him very clearly. By the same token, we affirm our spiritual identity as the offspring of God by striving to express these and other moral and spiritual qualities. In this way we are giving up materiality, with all its limitations and confinements. We are moving toward the kind of spiritual freedom that Christ Jesus taught each of us to have. Through our prayers, we can also aim to be at peace with our fellowman. This doesn't mean that we have to accept evil and just live with it. But it does mean that by following Christ Jesus' example we can recognize that God is omnipresent and that the Spirit of the Lord is with us no matter what. We have an inherent right to know and to have liberty. As we realize this and live accordingly, we find greater liberation from whatever is oppressing us. Even if our outward human circumstances do not change immediately, we will begin to know the mental freedom that is the harbinger of the liberty to come. And through our growing confidence that freedom really is our right, our prayers can also go beyond our own personal circumstances. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes of freedom in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In one place she says: "Discerning the rights of man, we cannot fail to foresee the doom of all oppression. Slavery is not the legitimate state of man. God made man free. This certainty of God's presence and power enables us to pray diligently for ourselves and for freedom around the globe. As we learn to know that God is Love and gives only good to His offsp ring, we realize that slavery has no useful role in anyone's life. God's purpose is not served by oppression; but it is fulfilled by liberty.

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