Continued Progress Is Needed

SEVERAL months ago, Pastor Alfred Radeloff of Dessau, formerly in East Germany, talked to the Christian Science Sentinel about the spiritual factors that helped shape events in Germany preceding reunification. In the interview he said: "If you read the Bible, you could say that the history of Israel is the history of the people on the way from slavery to freedom. And you could say the same about the New Testament. Jesus came to free human beings. . . ."And so we used texts of the way from slavery in Egypt, from the desert--forty years desert (forty years German Democratic Republic)--to freedom. And he also pointed out: "Before this period we had prayed and preached right things for many years. But large groups of people didn't come. Now they came. News reports and commentators around the world have noted the significant role played by the pastors of East German churches. It was a period when people united in prayer. This appears to have given people the strength to triumph over fear and the tempta-tions of violence, hatred, and revenge. Prayer and trust in God gave people renewed confidence that righteousness would prevail. In the light of this promising beginning, recent events in Eastern Europe have sometimes been disappointing. The hopes for peaceful change are being shaken by power struggles, greed, nationalism. For those of us who have seen, to some extent, the power that a spiritual approach to national affairs can have, it is disheartening to see this tendency. Surely this is no time to ease up on the prayerful efforts that have already done so much to bring freedom around the globe! Christianity is a tough discipline, for it requires a tempering of the heart, a continuing spiritualization of thought and motives. Christ Jesus addressed this very point when he said to his followers, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. What does it mean to obey Jesus' command to "continue in my word? Wouldn't it mean hav- ing a persistent fidelity to what he taught in the Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew's Gospel), for example, and constantly striving to live by these teachings? Jesus taught that trust in God would meet our every need. He taught that as we curb the passions--hatred, lust, greed, and so forth--we will find the tangible blessing that God bestows on man. But he also indicated that proving the truth of what he tau ght requires persistence, steadfastness, meekness, love, forgiveness. This gives particular impact to another observation by Pastor Radeloff in the interview re-ferred to earlier: "I would say forgiveness is the most important problem in our society. I hope that the Christians understand what forgiveness is. . . . when you say forgiveness, you must speak about Jesus Christ, about his life, about his work that he did for us. Forgiveness is possible to all of us as we discover our true nature and identity as the children of God. When we recognize this, our spiritual nature, we are governed by it. The elements of hatred, greed, and vengeance are no part of man's genuine spiritual selfhood. As we recognize this, and embrace the spiritual love, generosity, and forgiveness that truly belong to man, the negative traits begin to dissolve. True freedom for individuals and for nations is permanently won only when it is achieved on a spiritual basis. Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount reveals the abiding Principle, God, that ensures this freedom. In remarks which were delivered following a Sunday church service on the Fourth of July and have been reprinted in her Miscellaneous Writings, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, said: "The great theme so deeply and solemnly expounded by the preacher, has been exemplified in all ages, but chiefly in the great crises of nations or of the human race. It is then that supreme devotion to Principle has especially been called for and manifested. It is then that we learn a little more of the nothingness of evil, and more of the divine energies of good, and strive valiantly for the liberty of the sons of God. The work ahead is demanding. This is a time for prayer and fasting: for the prayer of steadfast devotion to God; for fasting not necessarily from food but from the destructive mental elements of envy, impatience, revenge, and intemperance. It is not a time for discouragement but a time to recognize that the great hopes people have can be fulfilled if we continue to heed the spiritual guidance Christ provides.

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BIBLE VERSE: Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21,22

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