The Presence of Christ

Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life.

FOR something to really work, it has to be a present, active force. It can't be ceremonial or remote or weak.

Nothing could be more true of the Christ, that spirit of Truth and Love so closely identified with Christ Jesus. Once, according to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, ``Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world'' (28:20). Surely he meant that the divine power and presence so evident in his own life would remain always.

Of course, Jesus walked the earth at a specific time. And he was a unique individual, truly incomparable as the promised Messiah. But the Christ-spirit, which he embodied so completely that it was coincident with his earthly presence, has always been on earth and will always be on earth.

Christ is truly a presence among us. Christ originates in God Himself, of course, who is always present. In proportion as we throw open our hearts and thoughts to the good that is God, we will find ourselves uplifted and even changed by this presence of Christ.

Perhaps the Apostle Paul captures this best in his letter to the Galatians when he says, ``Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father'' (4:6).

And isn't the life of Paul an example of the way in which Christ comes to human consciousness? The New Testament describes this man- -then named Saul--as at first a dogged tormentor of Jesus' followers. However, on a trip to Damascus, the Christ-spirit confronted Saul, so to speak, literally blinding him with the truth. Following God's guidance, Saul went to Damascus, met with a man named Ananias, and was converted to a follower of Christ. Then, he changed his name to Paul.

Christ isn't an iffy thing--something mysterious that might be available to a few individuals, but not most of us. It is meant for every heart, not a chosen few--though we do have to open our thought to its presence. A little reasoning about the nature of God can show why this is true.

Perhaps the most common way of thinking of God is as Spirit. He is Spirit. By its very nature, Spirit is infinite. It has no limit; its extent is boundless. It is in every place at every time. In God's office as creator, He makes man. Every man, woman, and child is in truth God's man, spiritual and perfect in God's likeness. So, when God as infinite Spirit sends forth ``the Spirit of his Son,'' it is directed at every heart, not just a few.

The Founder of the Church of Christ Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy, explains the power of the Christ-spirit at many points in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She says clearly what Christ is and does, as, for example, in the following definition: ``The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error'' (p. 583).

The Christ ``comes''--that is an important aspect of God's nature. It doesn't wait; it comes. And it comes to heal.

Just as Paul responded to the Christ coming to him, we must do likewise to some degree if we are to feel its healing influence. If our lives are to be fuller and richer, if we are to have stronger families and better communities, if we are to have a peaceful world, we'll all need to open our hearts more to the coming of the Christ.

We can want such changes very much. But mere human effort, though praiseworthy, is bound to fall short. What is necessary is not just a rearrangement of schedule, for example, but a deep transformation. It's really only when we feel the love of God deep within us that character growth is spontaneous and permanent.

The wonderful thing is--we don't have to ``move mountains'' ourselves to experience this change. The power in the transformation rests in God's Christ, not in any personal ability. But we do need to put forth sincere effort. Our own study of the gospel and our living of the Christ-spirit are indispensable. These reveal a powerful love of God and man that is already at work in each of us. And this divine influence inevitably brings progress and healing.

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