(Written especially for young people)
PEOPLE change. Have you ever laughed when you saw last year's class picture and realized how much your appearance had changed since then?
There's another kind of change that may not be as noticeable. It's the change that takes place as we learn more about who we really are as children of God. This understanding comes through prayer and listening to God. It also comes through study of the Bible and of a book that helps us understand the deeper meaning of the Bible, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science.
In Romans in the Bible, we are told, ``The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God'' (8:16). We're actually spiritual because we're created by Spirit, God. This real selfhood is unchanging, perfect. But we have to understand this and prove it step by step. We need to let this understanding make improvements in the way we think about ourselves and others. While we're doing this, we find we want to change--to let God bring out the best in us. But sometimes other people don't recognize our spiritual progress right away.
Christ Jesus knew what it meant to be God's child and lived it better than anyone else. But even in his case, some people had a hard time seeing his spirituality. After he began his healing ministry, the Gospel of Luke in the Bible tells us, Jesus returned to his hometown, where he read and spoke in the synagogue. When he was finished, ``All bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?'' Jesus went on to say, ``No prophet is accepted in his own country'' (Luke 4:22, 24).
Jesus was the Messiah. He overcame temptation through his spiritual faith and strength, and he healed people of physical illness and deformity. Even when the townspeople didn't acknowledge his mission, he continued to carry it out.
When I went home for Christmas after my first semester in boarding school, I learned that it's important to hold on to the changes that come through spiritual progress. I had spent a lot of time praying, studying Christian Science, and trying to be more consistently loving. I had changed. But at first, being in familiar surroundings with relatives who were used to the ``old'' me, I acted in ways I'd outgrown--I was rather sarcastic and moody. But behaving that way didn't feel right, because it wasn't ``me'' anymore; it really never had been me.
Well, I liked much better my true, spiritual nature as God's child, free of ungodlike character traits or habits. So I insisted on behaving that way. Praying helped! I also prayed to see that my relatives were God's children, too! From then on, I was able to express more of what I was learning about the true nature of man-- whether I was at home or at school or anywhere else--even if it wasn't what people expected of me at first. I'm not perfect yet, but I'm getting better!
In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes, ``The real man is spiritual and immortal, but the mortal and imperfect so-called `children of men' are counterfeits from the beginning, to be laid aside for the pure reality. This mortal is put off, and the new man or real man is put on, in proportion as mortals realize the Science of man and seek the true model'' (p. 409).
By seeing ourselves and others as the consistently pure, loving expression of God, we help one another to change in the most important way--by making the spiritual progress that brings us more peace and joy and healing.