Remember that Salt 'n' Pepa song from 1991, "Let's talk about sex"? The chorus says,
Let's talk about you and me
Let's talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
So, OK. Let's. Only, let's change things up, baby. Let's talk about sin.
Mention sin and some automatically think of sexual immorality or wrong-doing to a neighbor. But, Christian Science broadens the term to include any action or thought that tries to separate one from the divine source of all good, from God.
In that sense, sin is the ultimate distraction. It obscures one's ability to see, feel and experience the healing Christ. It shuts down inspiration. It depletes energy and zaps joy. Sin makes one feel unwilling and unable to understand and practice Christian healing. This makes sin an assassin, crushing joy, peace, effectiveness at healing, harmony and health. It kills and kills and keeps killing until it is exposed and stopped.
When it comes to sin, we have to be willing to look at it. Unmask it. Pop it out from under cover and eliminate its toxic and deadly influence on us. Over the centuries, sin has been discussed under seven so-called carnal or deadly categories - anger, lust, gluttony, sloth, envy, greed, and pride. Under these seven categories you can effectually list any negative trait or behavior that is anti-Christ. Christ Jesus’ Lord’s Prayer can provide a helpful springboard for addressing any category of sin. For example:
Our Father, which art in heaven addresses ENVY. No one is left out of “OUR” Father. No imbalance. No haves and have nots. Through our connection with the Father-Mother each one of us is linked directly to heaven. No one and nothing can limit our expression and experience of good. No exceptions. (Here is another blog post that illustrates a cool healing of envy.)
Hallowed be Thy name takes care of ANGER. It is God’s name and nature that is hallowed, that is honored and worshipped as holy. True worship involves not just appreciating but reflecting that holy nature. There is no reaction in reflection. Reflection is a response or a giving back to the original, but never a reaction to the original or to any other source.
You know what healed Jacob of his anger and fear at Peniel? He saw God face to face – that’s what Peniel means: "God face to face." Reflection. To see God, was to see himself. So what was that angel Jacob wrestled? A correct view of himself as Godlike. When he glimpsed his own real nature, he found no anger there. Hallowed be God’s nature. Hallowed be yours. (Check out another post on healing anger.)
Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven is a great one for SLOTH. God’s kingdom is the atmosphere of ideas in which we work. God’s will is our motivator and goal. Praying to know and yield to the divine will for good and only good eliminates stubbornness and self-will. This shift produces more order at home and at work. It redeems from procrastination, mental dullness, spiritual apathy and laziness. (Could you use some ideas on mastering self-will? Check out this post.)
Give us this day our daily bread can be really helpful in eliminating GLUTTONY. Hoarding and overindulgence in any form is handled when we drop the fear that what we love or what we need may not be here today. But God’s grace is here today. Everyday. It satisfies our needs and desires. He sends us spiritual ideas to feed our famished affections and meet our needs. Taking what he gives, accepting our daily bread, produces balance and satisfaction. No more overeating, overspending, overindulging, overreacting, over-saving, overstocking, and even oversleeping – all gluttonous behaviors. (Looking for that unlimited supply of grace and good? Check out this post.)
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors is helpful against GREED. It is an equation of sorts with the word “AS” as the equal sign. And Love is reflected in love. God forgives and we forgive. God gives, and we give. The divine Principle, or God, of supply includes balance and generosity and abundance for all. (See another post on this one, too.)
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil offers a wit-sharpening, courage-inducing prayer to counter LUST. The book of Esther in the Bible tells the story of Vashti, Ahasuerus’ queen, who refused to cater to her husband’s deviant request that she parade herself naked before his friends. It took such moral courage at great personal risk to take that stand before her husband and king. Even though it cost her a human crown, later Scripture confirmed that her virtue was her real crown! Proverbs states, “A virtuous woman is a crown…:” Proverbs 12:4
Perhaps the issue with lust is not so much that the suggestions come, as it is that we have the power to choose, as Vashti did, to follow the leadings of good – that is, to acknowledge and act on the natural force, the powerful draw, to purity.
God doesn't lead us into temptation. Ever. Lust is not a natural propensity of man. The Lord’s Prayer helps us master and express our natural propensities for purity, moral courage, and goodness. (Yup, I have an interesting post on sex.)
For THINE is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever is a good line for flushing out PRIDE. I have an old cartoon clipping. Two monks are examining a list of the seven deadly sins. One monk said to the other, “After you’ve successfully resisted the other six deadly sins, its really hard not to be proud!”
What is real belongs to God. Acknowledging God’s kingdom, power and glory is an ultimate statement of humility, and humility counteracts pride – an inflated or deflated sense of one’s self. Pride can take the form of superiority or inferiority. We've got to root out both.
God is the kingdom in which you work, the power with which you work, and the glory for which you work – now and forever. That idea can take you far. (And here are a few more thoughts on the kingdom to nourish your prayers.)
During a class to train Christian Science teachers, a student named Mrs. Otis asked Mary Baker Eddy how she was to demonstrate over weak eyes. The response was, "Make yourself better every hour and don’t think of eyes.” (Joshua Bailey notes, Mary Baker Eddy Library)
Make yourself better every hour. Eliminating the influence of sin in our own lives brings the clearest discernment, deepest compassion, and strongest spiritual authority. It makes one an effective healer.
"Somewhere in the Bible it says "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord". And often people console themselves with that when a heinous crime has been committed, or when they think about the people who have done the worst possible evil, heads of state mainly. Top of the list is Hitler, or Bin Laden, or Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, the North Korea gang, Pinochet and more.
"People like to think that they who do these things will wind up in hell, as divine punishment. Is there a divine retribution for them, or will God just let them keep on until they get it and repent, since the only power of evil is to self-destruct?"
This was posed to me following my recent "Angry no more" lecture. There are a couple of questions raised here - Is God a vengeful God? and, Does God know and punish sinners? Here is my response. Stay with me to the end. Don't let the first sentences fool you into thinking that God doesn't take on and take down evil.
God is divine Good, pure Spirit, infinite Love, resplendent Soul. Just as Light isn't vindictive toward the darkness it displaces, God, pure good, doesn't avenge evil. Light knows light and only light. God is conscious of Himself and all that He manifests. Nothing is real or permanent outside of God and the infinite manifestation of His goodness.
God is All, and that allness is the exterminator of anything unlike good. Just as light eliminates darkness through it's simple presence, eliminating moral and physical darkness isn't an act of destruction for divine Good; it's an act of simply being God.
So where did the darkness come from if it isn't part of God's allness? Darkness is a false perspective; it's not a thing, it's the suggestion of an absence of light.
Darkness is often self-imposed. Take my cat, for example. She loves light, even seeking it out. But she also closes her eyes tightly when the sun is shining on her. The light doesn't disappear, and she can't avoid its effects; but the darkness she experiences may seem very real to her with her eyes closed to it.
If one is duped into believing that God is distant, that good is far off, that good can be subverted and changed into its opposite, or that one is not good as God's image, he is holding a false view of the divine Light in and around him.
Sin is Bible vocabulary for negativity, for evil thoughts and deeds.The Bible teaches that sin is punished. It also teaches that man is redeemable from sin. Christ Jesus illustrated this redemption by forgiving and turning people's hearts from sin. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures points out one of the basic tenets of Christian Science: "We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts." (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 497)
It is important to note that God doesn't do the punishing. A sin belief punishes itself. Sin is self-destructive. The belief punishes itself, induces suffering on itself, until the belief is released. "Vengeance is mine" is an attempt to to explain this phenomena of self-destructive evil by blaming the discomfort on a human-like and angry god.
To the question of "people like that," whether they will ultimately be redeemed, it is important to note that mortals don't become children of God. Mortality and its conditions of evil passions and appetites, depraved will, cruelty, hatred, revenge, have no life in them to redeem.
If there is not a single morsel of morality - some slight indication of humanity, honesty, affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness or temperance in a Hitler, than that Hitler was never a man. (Man, in this sense, is the generic term for manifestation or child of God.) In such a case he would be classified, and would always remain, a figment of what Christian Science denotes as animal magnetism, the anti-Christ, generic evil, or complete darkness. However, If there is any slight indication of humanity there - whether we have personally ever seen it or not - that makes him redeemable.
Fortunately, we don't have to worry about if or how a Hitler is or isn't transformed or changed. Whether man or a figment of animal magnetism, the divine and irrevocable law of progress will sort out the true facts, redeem the real and wipe out entirely that which is unlike God.
Darkness never wins in a contest with Light. Light, and the good that constitutes God and His creation, conquers all.
For a beautiful illustration of how pure good overcame the darkness and evil of the Holocaust, check out my earlier post titled "I will love, if another hates."
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For those who are in northern California, I will give my lecture "Finding God, Finding Health" this afternoon, at 4pm PT in Pacifica. I will be back to blogging next week, but in the meantime lots of interesting ideas are percolating to share.
Here is the November 8, 2012, Daily Lift, entitled "Dump the Guilt", in case you missed it. The Daily Lift is a podcast series featuring the inspiration of members of the worldwide Christian Science Board of Lectureship team. Every Lift is "the best Lift I have ever heard." If you are up for a two-minute inspiration and thought-boost, do give the Lift a regular listen. New Lifts are posted five days a week. You can even subscribe to have each new Lift delivered to your email inbox.
Happy weekend to all!
I am happy to say that this blog post has now been published by the Christian Science Journal and has been made available to read online. I have kept the keywords and links found in the original blog for your reference here. And the photos! because they really do make a post fun.
I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no