THE Bible tells that Christ Jesus destroyed sin throughout his ministry. In doing this, he often associated with people thought to be sinners, and even welcomed them into his midst. I guess that's why it's no surprise Jesus was often condemned himself. But just his being with sinners wasn't what healed them. It was his understanding of their spiritual identities. He saw each so-called sinner as the child of God, not the child of sin.
Recognizing them as perfect and sinless enabled Jesus to heal, for example in the case of an adulterous woman (see John 8:3-11). Now, the Jewish law was strict and unforgiving concerning adultery. It allowed that this woman could face a gruesome death for having committed adultery. Through his spiritual understanding, Jesus not only effectively saved the woman's life; he also directed her to stop breaking the law.
Jesus perceived the sin in others but he also saw past the sin. And it was this ability that brought healing. What exactly did Jesus see? It was this-that the person who appeared to be a sinner to everyone else must actually be the image of God, and therefore must be good. He fostered a willingness to repent, and then to be and do good. He perceived the God-given, sinless nature of everyone. He perceived a readiness for reformation.
In the case of the adulterous woman, St. John wrote that Jesus said to her accusers, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (verse 7). When he was later told that not one of them had assailed her, he said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" (verse 11).
We might ask ourselves if we're as willing to bring reform to our own lives-willing to change our ways. Is it really possible to be permanently renewed? Yes. Reformation is not only possible but permanent when sought in God. Through prayer and watchfulness, we can turn our lives around. This is what Christian Science-a religion based on the teachings of Jesus-assures. If you aren't happy with some action you took, or the way you've been living your life, you can seek and find permanent reformation.
The woman who discovered Christian Science in 1866, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: "Sorrow for wrong-doing is but one step towards reform and the very easiest step. The next and great step required by wisdom is the test of our sincerity,-namely, reformation." This statement is from the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 5).
Reformation means to "form again." But what is it that is to be reformed? Thinking. Reformation happens through one's listening for God's guidance, being humble, yielding to His government. It takes place through prayer. Prayer opens a person's thought to God's control. To understand that our thoughts and actions can be governed by God, rather than by the forces of evil, does place us under His guidance. Through prayer, one's consciousness is changed for the better. Prayer first reforms thinking, then actions, bringing human events into line with God's goodness. Prayer forms thought anew, and in this way lives are formed anew. Each effort to put off wrong thought and action is an advancing step. Also, through prayer and spiritual growth, we can hold the ground we win.
This isn't a matter of self-will. It's divine power that guides and helps us to be and act the way God created us to be and act. Reformation comes from keeping thought faithful to what is good, honest, and loving. God is inseparable from us, His children-inseparable both in thought and action. Because of this, we cannot know or do what God isn't knowing or doing. In short, then, we reform by turning prayerfully and humbly to God, by exchanging materially based thought and action for spiritually based thought and action.
If you want to, you can seek permanent reformation. Quietly, begin reaching out for a clearer, more spiritual understanding of God. Ask to know your unity with Him. This will implement your prayers and change your life. Thus you'll find that true reformation is first and foremost a reforming of thought. It is looking deep into reality, to perceive what is already there: God's sinless child.