To scan today’s newspaper reports is to find that the struggle for liberty is as lively a topic today as it was on July 4, 1776, when Americans of the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. Recently, Egyptians voted in the country’s first ever competitive presidential race, and other countries in the Arab world continue their own quests for freedom.
It’s not too much of a stretch to go back in time to the children of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses, a man of God. The accounts of their journey to freedom are gripping—a sea actually parting to let them go through, food and water divinely provided in the wilderness, the ability to overcome opponents in battle when they crossed over into the Promised Land. Yet these outward elements are only the window dressing for what was really going on: the revelation of the one God and the Ten Commandments to humanity.
That divine law laid a framework for Christ Jesus’ revolutionary teaching and ministry. The thousands who came to hear him preach learned that this was no hillside philosophy but a teaching with the power to heal, to supply food, and to lift humanity to a clearer concept of good.
Through Jesus it became possible to think of God as a truly present and healing power available to all people. The prayer Jesus provided his followers, and that’s widely used today, begins, “Our Father . . . .” It brings home the reality that God’s help is near at hand whether one is imprisoned in a building, in an aching body, in financial troubles, addiction, or some other condition. Our Father is there to help us and to guide each of us to the freedom we deserve.
Even though each of us is actually spiritual, we sometimes get ensnared in different modes of thought or behavior that would rob us of our freedom. The Sentinel asked writers from around the world to offer brief thoughts on freedom and how a spiritual sense of liberty
can lift us above challenges that may come our way.
Free as a bird
Gloria Onyuru, writing from Turkey, recognizes the power of divine Love not just to maintain the birds of the air, but also to uplift the man and woman of Love’s creating. “From my study’s window,” she writes, “I can watch sparrows, pigeons, doves, and magpies flitting from tree to tree. Christ Jesus preached: ‘Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?’ (Matthew 6:26).
“The ‘fowls of the air’ are never caged in by thoughts of lack—they trust God to freely feed, feather, and nestle them, and employ them as joyful morning chirpers. God provides the same loving care for His beloved children who are ‘free born’ (Acts 22:28). When I calmly trust God and practice the uplifting qualities of intelligence, courage, innocence, and joy,
I experience the freedom of soaring on the all-supplying wings of divine Love, unhampered, unfettered, untrammeled in any net of despair (the fowler’s snare). I’m as free as a bird!”
Freedom: a human right
Injustice can bind people with thoughts of fear or even a desire for revenge, but divine Truth’s liberating power is an awesome force for good. As Helga Knispel, a Christian Science practitioner in Germany, puts it: “One Mind is the law of unity and—to me—represents the Christian Science declaration of independence, which includes universal freedom from matter, sin, sickness, and death. It annuls the ability to break any of the Ten Commandments.
“When we identify ourselves and others as the divine idea of God, we experience God’s love and protection for all of us.”
How to beat the clock
It’s likely that few of us have been totally exempt from what can feel like the slavery of time and responsibility. Edna Watson is now a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science in the United Kingdom, but she was once a schoolteacher.
The subject she taught locked her into what she describes as “a very exact timetable.” She goes on: “After I left teaching, I found that I was still trying to live to the same difficult timetable. One day when I was reading, I found this passage by Mary Baker Eddy: ‘Rushing around smartly is no proof of accomplishing much’ (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 230). That was just what I needed to be set free.”
She realized that “as we progress in our understanding of Christian Science, we learn that God governs our days, and these are always the unfoldment of good.”
To be exempt from time’s pressures, she says, “We can claim our freedom as God’s ideas—expressed in spiritual reflection, harmony, peace—and can trust divine Love’s guidance with every decision we make. When I affirm each day that it is God’s day, it’s surprising how harmonious that day can be.”
Sin’s shackles removed
As a young man, Joseph Kamenju, writing from Nairobi, Kenya, says he “believed that freedom meant doing what pleased me rather than what pleased my parents or superiors. I felt free to drink and smoke and do all the things my heart desired, and I became a slave to these appetites. I tried in vain to stop smoking and drinking.
“When I was searching for a way to free myself, I found Christian Science and read Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy. I also began reading the Bible, not because it was required of me or to please anyone but because I discovered that true freedom lay not in merely having the right to rebel, but in also embracing my God-given right not to feel that I had to rebel.
“In Science and Health I read: ‘The enslavement of man is not legitimate. It will cease when man enters into his heritage of freedom, his God-given dominion over the material senses’ (p. 228).
“The shackles of my enslavement to smoking and drinking fell off, and I have been free of these behaviors for many years.”
Endurance in the face of injustice
The apostles were no strangers to prison. Paul, Silas, and Peter are three of the men who were unjustly imprisoned and later released, primarily through their faith in God’s power and their conviction that they were innocent. Joyce Milgaard, a Christian Science practitioner who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, tells how she was sustained by spiritual truth when a family member was unjustly imprisoned.
“On the walls of our church in Winnipeg you’ll find, ‘Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need’ (Science and Health, p. 494) and ‘Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ (John 8:32).
“Knowing and living these truths sustained me when I was striving to help a family member gain his freedom from wrongful imprisonment. It took 23 years, but each day was a step toward the glorious sense of liberation I felt when at last the judgment was reversed. Another passage denoting freedom to me is ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ (II Corinthians 3:17). That liberty gives me the freedom to see the love and good in everyone I meet.”
Free even in prison
Norman Hutchinson lives in Box Hill, Australia. He says he “glimpsed enlightening aspects of the spiritual meaning of freedom while I was teaching in a high security prison.” He goes on, “I met men, some incarcerated for lengthy terms, showing no bitterness, bearing no grudges, uttering no sense of injustice, voicing no negativity, and exhibiting every appearance of being free.
“These gentle, friendly men were grateful for an opportunity to learn, were determined to succeed, and looked forward to putting new skills to good use.
“Whatever our personal sense of captivity, be it imprisonment, lack, illness, enslavement, oppression, or impure thinking, we are actually blessed by God’s gift of freedom, encapsulated in Jesus’ words, ‘the truth shall make you free’ (John 8:32). To me, in this statement of the law of being, ‘shall’ means ‘must.’ Mary Baker Eddy explained that ‘. . . through Christ, Truth, man . . . will find himself unfallen, upright, pure, and free . . .’ (Science and Health, p. 171). Not only did God make man free, He maintains us ‘fetterless and free’ (Violet Hay, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 64).”
To unite divided nations
The Middle East isn’t the only part of the world where the quest for freedom seems to be front and center. In Asia, and specifically on the Korean peninsula, North and South Korea march to very different drummers. Patricia Wilson, a Christian Science practitioner who lives in Seoul, South Korea, has been prayerfully watching events there for many years.
“We need not wait for the official reunification of Korea in order to help those who are oppressed,” she writes. “We can support their struggles in prayer, affirming that ‘constant toil, deprivations, exposures, and all untoward conditions, if without sin, can be experienced without suffering’ (Science and Health, p. 385).
We can claim our freedom as God's ideas–expressed in spiritual reflection, harmony, peace–and can trust divine Love's guidance with every decision we make.
“Surely this applies to all who yearn for freedom. And where is that freedom? The Bible tells us, ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ (II Corinthians 3:17). Spirit being everywhere, liberty must then be equally present and powerful on both sides of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.
“No oppressive regime can prevent freedom from being tangibly felt in holy ways, this very moment, by all who seek it.” She notes that spiritual support of freedom has an even bigger effect than solely addressing the needs in the Koreas, writing, “Through persistent, love-based prayer, man’s God-given freedom will ultimately be realized throughout the world.”
Liberation through healing
Mary Baker Eddy devoted her life to helping others learn how to heal by following the example of Christ Jesus, our Master. For her, healing the human body was just as important as healing the corporate body (and vice versa). To gain this freedom involves understanding the spiritual reality that freedom is already here. In spiritual terms, we don’t need to “get” it because we already are hard-wired with freedom.
MarySue Harris, a Christian Science practitioner in Lincoln, Nebraska, makes this point as she shares her thoughts on freedom:
“Freedom is an essential characteristic of all real being. This word freedom is defined as ‘the power or right to act, speak, and think without hindrance.’
“God knows no limitations whatsoever! And Mary Baker Eddy says in Science and Health, ‘God’s being is infinity, freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss’ (p. 481). This underscores the fact that freedom can be found in God’s presence—in understanding our unconfined relationship with Him.
“Aligning ourselves with God enables us to see that we can live in obedience to His law of Love—a law that establishes our true being and our divine rights.
“Our true sense of being, our freedom in God’s ever-presence, takes place primarily in thought. And to truly understand this fact eliminates restrictions and sets us free!”