RECENT years have seen the launch of many support groups designed to aid individuals in their efforts to overcome addictions. These groups indicate humanity's recognition of the need to challenge self-destructive desires such as gambling, drinking, and drug taking. Christianity has always called people to overcome such wrong desires. Yet it, too, recognizes the immense struggle that this can entail. In the Bible the Apostle Paul spoke out of his own experience when he wrote to the Romans: ``For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do''(7:19).
Despite such struggles, however, Paul did find strength in Christ to overcome evil with good; and he accomplished immeasurable good through his loyalty to God's call for him to spread the gospel of Christ. We can take heart from his victory, for although we may feel too mired in sin to believe we'll ever break free, this isn't so! Like Paul we have recourse to the liberating Christ-power taught and proved by Jesus, who freed sinners by illustrating and demonstrating their true innocence as spiritual man,
the likeness, or pure reflection, of the creator.
This spiritual ideal--the understanding of man as God's reflection--is Christ. And understanding Christ is the most potent means by which to overcome wrong desire. In reality we each already are wholly good, and do desire God's love above all else! Nothing can undermine our natural attraction to the things of Spirit, God.
In human thinking, right desires need to be valued. Then, through prayer and spiritual discipline, worthless, ungodlike qualities can be recognized, relinquished, and destroyed. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, identifies spiritually founded desires that ought to be brought out in our lives. Such desires include: understanding God, growing in grace, knowing and doing the will of God, doing right.
I found a key to successfully nurturing and fulfilling such wholesome desires in one of Christ Jesus' parables (see Matthew 13:24-30). He speaks of a wheat field in which tares--weeds-- were planted by an enemy.
When I thought of the tares and the wheat as matter-based and Spirit-inspired desires respectively, I could more easily see why Jesus illustrated how a willful war against the weeds risked a mistaken destruction of some of the good wheat. Jesus' parable cautions us to wait until the weeds are clearly distinguishable from the wheat they resemble. Then we can confidently separate the two and cast aside the weeds.
Such clarification occurs as we persistently, prayerfully, positively acknowledge the spiritual reality of the man of God's creating as the sole truth of our individual being. Then the wrongness of desires that don't characterize our spirituality becomes increasingly apparent. Taking the next step of obediently refusing to give in to such impulses on the grounds that they are not of God empowers us to gain final and irreversible freedom from them. As Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health: ``Let the slav e of wrong desire learn the lessons of Christian Science, and he will get the better of that desire, and ascend a degree in the scale of health, happiness, and existence'' (p. 407).
Looking back on wrong desires from a higher view makes us wonder how anyone could ever give up godliness. The wonderful truth is: we actually cannot; God maintains it in us eternally.