Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It's about choices

Choices. Think how many times a day we make choices. This week's Bible Lesson on Everlasting Punishment has some fine examples from the Scriptures about choices and consequences.

Is God tempting us with choices? No. God, good, is the only cause and creator. What He creates is good. No exceptions. So there is nothing 'out there' that can be suggesting that we listen to another voice, follow the wrong path, make a false move. Mrs. Eddy asks: "Does divine Love commit a fraud on humanity by making man inclined to sin, and then punishing him for it?"  The answer is no. So where does the wrong doing, the poor choice, come in?  Mrs. Eddy says: "It is the opposite of good - that is, evil - which seems to make men capable of wrong-doing. Hence, evil is but an illusion, and it has no real basis. Evil is a false belief. God is not its author". The real man, God's very image and likeness cannot depart from holiness.

Do you choose to include in your daily prayer for yourself your holiness?

The parable of the Prodigal son seems to be a series of choices. The young man chooses to be discontent with the rules his father has set. He asks for his inheritance early, before his father has passed on, and his father chooses to give it to him.  A few days later the boy chooses to leave home and go far away, where there appear to be no rules. He chooses to spend his inheritance unwisely and soon it is all gone. He could have chosen to go home at that point but he chooses to stay in that place and a citizen sends him into the field to feed the pigs. And no one offers to help him. At this low point he suddenly realizes that he can make a different choice. He can choose to leave that place and go home. He can choose to  apologize for his behavior and ask to be hired on as a servant.

By listening to and understanding Jesus' teachings and demonstrations we can choose to  live a more spiritual life. We can choose to escape from evil and evil's influences. We can choose to stop identifying ourselves with behavior that is the opposite of good. We can choose to recognize our relation to God, our divine sonship. We can choose to leave the old way for the new. We can choose to be glad that we are making that choice.

His father was watching and waiting for him, ready to welcome him home with kisses and open arms. He was glad to have him back. He did not refer to what had passed. He treated him as the son he had always been. What has been forsaken has been forgiven. There was no punishment, no condemnation. Well, the older brother was put out but that was another choice and another part of the parable.

In another section of the Lesson we read about blind Bartimaeus. He had been sitting by the wayside, a road leading into Jericho, begging.  A great number of people were passing by and he must have asked what was going on. He was told that it was Jesus of Nazareth. He immediately begins to call out referring to Jesus as the son of David. Others told him to hold his peace but he chooses to cry out more persistently. Jesus stops and asks to have him called over. Now others encourage him to rise up and go to the Master. This is the cool part. As he does so, he casts away his garment, a ragged cloak that was meant to call attention to his blindness so others would feel badly for him and give him money. This identity he willingly drops. When Jesus asks what he wants, he asks for his sight and is healed. How often do we pray for healing but cling to our raggedy old view of ourselves, accept the claim as real? Are we as willing as Bartimaeus to cast off that shade of gloom and illness and go to the Master?

Choices. Where should we look?

"Mortals must look beyond fading, finite forms, if they would gain the true sense of things. Where shall the gaze rest but in the unsearchable realm of Mind?" (Science and Health 264)

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