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FROM THE EDITORS

MORE THAN JUST LEARNING FROM MISTAKES

From the January 5, 2009 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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The current economic crisis in the US has been attributed at least in part to a series of missteps resulting from greed and corruption—both on the individual and the corporate level. It seems no one is immune to making mistakes, some trivial, if not habitual, and others with much graver implications. One terribly wrong misstep, and the repercussions, it would seem, stain—even define—the rest of an individual's life and character.

THE MOST POWERFUL RESPONSE TO ANY WRONG DONE IS LOVE. BECAUSE LOVE HEALS.

Yet this is precisely where prayer offers a solution and promises freedom. Jesus' life and teachings were built on the premise that God defines our very being. A God who is Love wouldn't cause His creation to make mistakes and suffer from them. The sons and daughters of God can never be separated from their divine parentage. It was on this foundation that Jesus was able to heal those he encountered and bring to them the light of the Christ, which reforms character and wipes away the apparent mistake.

Jesus never put blame on the individual for sin or disease, but he did call for aligning one's actions with good and never seeing the wrongdoing or disease as any part of a person's identity or life. To the woman "taken in adultery," he said, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more" (John 8:11, New King James Version). When his disciples asked him, "Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (John 9:2, 3).

From the standpoint of Christian Science, the real mistake is in viewing life through the fundamentally flawed lens of material perception as opposed to the reality of spiritual apprehension. As those two examples of healing from John's Gospel clearly illustrate, Jesus didn't view people as either "born in sin" or as willful mistake-makers. Rather, he apparently saw sin and its effects as tragic and bogus condemnations. And right where others saw human flaws and failings—and searched for their cause in material origins—Jesus saw the divine Cause mirrored in spiritual womanhood and manhood. When sin's shadowy deception was exposed to the light of the Christ, it had to give way, and immediate healing resulted.

A recent hope-inspiring example in the news shows how one woman's mistake didn't ultimately define her life, because of the Christly actions of another. When Tracy Orr lost her postal service job as the result of a drunk driving citation, she fell behind on the mortgage payments for her new home. Months later, after a failed attempt to catch up with her missed payments, she found herself in the back of an auction house, waiting for the first bids on her foreclosed home. Tracy couldn't stop the tears from flowing when the woman sitting next to her asked, "Are you here to buy a house?" On hearing Tracy's story, that woman spontaneously bid on and purchased her house so she could return it to Tracy. She didn't know if Tracy could pay her back, or what the condition of the house was—she simply cared enough in that moment to help. At a time when many are looking to profit from the downturn in the housing market—and ultimately, to benefit from the missteps of others—this series of events brings renewed hope. Said Tracy, "She's given me back faith ... to keep going and hold my head up" (see " 'Good Samaritan' saves crying woman's foreclosed home," cnn.com).

When the life of even one person is lifted up, there's a profound sense of the Divine working on the human scene, and hope ripples out for all. The most powerful response to any wrong done is love. Because love heals. The psychological model of analyzing the past to find solutions for the future—of dissecting mistakes for the purpose of self-awareness and the hope of moving on—doesn't actually remove the mistake from the equation.

Jesus model of healing, which is the basis of Christian Science healing, doesn't delve into the past or rehearse one's own or another's mistakes. It begins with the bedrock reality of an all-good God and Her all-good creation—and views evil, in any form, as what Sentinel founder Mary Baker Eddy termed "the awful deception and unreality of existence," which the Christ alone destroys (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 207).

Christian Science urges the worship of Love as life's sole Author. It trusts Love's law to expunge whatever is wrong, and to reveal the clarity and purity of each individual's being. Our past has no power to define our present. When confronted with the evidence of human error and mistakes, we would do well to help ourselves and others follow the Apostle Paul's advice: "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13–14). ♦

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