Freedom: the fruit of obeying God

A Christian Science perspective: Following God is what makes us free. 

The desire for freedom is natural, especially if we feel boxed in by personal circumstances or social customs. Perhaps it is forced observance of stringent traditions or a domineering family member that makes us think we’re unable to fulfill our potential or be ourselves.

What kind of freedom are we yearning for? Isn’t it the freedom to express our God-given identity, unencumbered by social status, personal history, gender, opinions of family members, or tradition? This freedom isn’t found in disobedience or licentiousness, in doing whatever one wants, or living for oneself alone. The freedom to progress and be who we really are is found through obeying God, our creator, the divine Principle of the universe.

Often it’s not people or traditions themselves that harm us. Rather it is our mistaken belief that something can keep good from us. There is God’s promise in the Bible, “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19). We might think of “the good of the land” as the freedom to live our own spiritual individuality.

To be obedient to God is to be who we really are. We are obedient to God, Truth, by expressing honesty and integrity. We are obedient to divine Mind as we give thought to what we do, expressing our native intelligence. We are obedient to God as Love when we show compassion toward others. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “God creates and governs the universe, including man. The universe is filled with spiritual ideas, which He evolves, and they are obedient to the Mind that makes them” (p. 295).

Obeying the Ten Commandments and Christ Jesus’ corollary teachings in the Sermon on the Mount leads to freedom from limits imposed on us. To express love, honesty, humility, confidence in God’s supremacy, peaceableness, and so forth, is to express something of our true nature and to find release from the fear of being dominated. The customs of society may not change, but the individual who listens for God’s guidance gains an independence from human pressures, because God guides us to do what is right in every situation.

Christ Jesus left a remarkable record for those who wish to be free to express their true individuality. His obedience to God gave him a freedom that others had never known. For example, he healed sickness in obedience to God’s law and in opposition to false, physical laws. He even healed people on the Sabbath despite narrow Pharisaical religious codes. He was free from superstition because he served the God of the Bible, the true God, whose presence allows no place for little gods formed in human thought. Even when Jesus was faced with difficult circumstances, his obedience to God gave him the freedom of dominion. After he had calmed a storm at sea it was said, “even the winds and the sea obey him” (Matthew 8:27). His obedience to God eventually gave him the ultimate freedom – the freedom from death.

The way he obeyed God and the way we can obey God is no mystery. Jesus lived in obedience to the laws of God as they are explained in the Bible. What did that involve? He had one God and didn’t believe that there could be any other power or Life than the one infinite creator, good. And he loved his fellow beings.

The person who puts God first in daily life is putting unselfishness, lovingkindness, spiritual understanding, willingness to serve, before selfish interests. These qualities – lived in family life or in business or wherever we feel caged in – bring a change for the better. We free ourselves and by example help others. By living our true Godlike individuality we are in obedience to divine law. And God’s law is supreme in every situation. Through heartfelt obedience to God we can begin to find our freedom. And to obey God is as natural as for a flower to turn toward the light.

Reprinted from the Jan. 7, 1986, issue of The Christian Science Monitor.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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