Christian discipleship—joyful, freeing
Recently, I received a letter from a woman who was suddenly able to walk freely again after being unable to do so for several months. It happened when her thought shifted from a burdensome sense of self-concern to the joy of selflessly yielding to the redeeming and healing power of God, universal Truth and Love. It reminded me of words from a song I love on a CD called Gracenotes:
When thought of self flew out the door,
There entered in its place
A freedom never known before,
And peace, and love, and grace.
(Lyrics by Phyllis Gilbert, Newsong Group)
Christ Jesus spoke of needing to deny ourselves in order to follow in his footsteps (see Luke 9:23). Denying a perception of ourselves as material, and accepting instead our true identity as God’s spiritual image and likeness, is joyful and freeing. This humble stance subordinates us to God, divine Love, and enables us to prove God’s supreme power and authority over sin, disease, and death, which Jesus showed us how to do. We grow spiritually in our ability to do this as we put it into daily practice.
Each day, we all have challenges of one kind or another. And these challenges can become a heavy burden when we think of ourselves as limited human personalities. But by yielding to and trusting God’s all-power and loving care, we can rise above and overcome those challenges instead of letting them bring us down.
Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, “The heart that beats mostly for self is seldom alight with love” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 160). And Jesus promised that our burden would become light if we would follow him and work in subordination to God for the good of all, as he did. He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
Considering the resistance and persecution directed at Jesus by prideful mortals as he carried out his healing and saving mission, it’s natural to wonder how he could say his burden was light. Through my own experiences, I’ve come to realize that it was because he never worked alone—or just for himself. He was yoked with God, always unselfishly yielding to God’s good will and care. He knew he was God’s Son, and he showed each of us our true identity and purpose as God’s spiritual creation, loved and cared for by God. In this selfless way, Jesus brought healing to many.
When we accept our own God-given identity and purpose as divine Love’s reflection, and humbly allow God to lift us to a higher expression of moral and spiritual purity and grace in order to bless and heal humanity, our burden does become lighter. But this is work. No doubt about it!
Whatever is unlike God, such as self-will, egotism, pride, and destructive criticism, is no part of anyone’s true identity. And as we follow Jesus’ teachings and example day by day, God’s love and grace infuse our prayers, correct and strengthen us, and guide our thoughts, words, and actions. Then healings come into our lives, and we grow in our willingness and ability to pray in this way for others.
Joy fills our heart when we let go of prideful and fearful misperceptions of ourselves and others and eagerly greet each day as an opportunity to grow in grace—to love God supremely, to live as God’s spiritual reflection, and to see and love all as God’s loved children. When we are living the beautiful qualities that express everyone’s true identity—purity, compassion, tenderness, mercy, unselfishness, and countless others—God’s redeeming and healing love shines forth through us to bless all humanity.
Anyone can do this. Simply turn to God for guidance one day at a time. With a heart filled with an earnest desire to follow Christ and selflessly bless humanity, you will be guided and empowered by divine Love. In this way, you will prove God’s transforming and healing power for yourself and others. This is Christian discipleship—joyful, freeing, and healing.
Barbara Vining, Guest Editorial Writer