Why the Struggle?
One of the most difficult things for the mortal self to do is to give itself up. Yet this essential step is a critical one in the process of working out one's salvation. It is symbolized in Jesus' crucifixion, for it was through the crucifixion of the mortal self that Jesus gained the ascension. The human yielded to the divine, and this is the way of resurrection and glorification.
Obviously, we will not all go through a material crucifixion. But we will all go through the process of self-immolation. There is no other way to arrive at the Christ, the true sense of selfhood in the likeness of God. The degree of suffering involved depends upon the tenacity of the mortal sense of self. Sometime and in some way each one must come to the truth that Spirit, divine Mind, is the only Ego, the only source of life and intelligence.
When properly viewed, this process is a joyous release from all that is limited, negative, and material. The mortal self is a particular instance of mortal mind and includes all the beliefs that would encroach on one's freedom, health, and dominion. On the other hand, the Christ as the true selfhood of each individual includes all the qualities of God and reflects the unlimited goodness of divine Love. By all the conclusion of logic it should not be difficult to let go the mortal for the divine. One could well ask, Why the struggle?
Mrs. Eddy tells us: "The nature of the individual, more stubborn than the circumstance, will always be found arguing for itself,—its habits, tastes, and indulgences. This material nature strives to tip the beam against the spiritual nature; for the flesh strives against Spirit,—against whatever or whoever opposes evil,—and weighs mightily in the scale against man's high destiny." Miscellaneous Writings, p. 119;
The belief of life and intelligence in matter is a lie, and whatever is false is bound to suffer. The only way to get rid of the suffering is to give up the falsehood. The burden and effort necessary to prove the unreality of evil and matter are called the cross, and we must each learn to bear it until we arrive at that dominion we call the crown. Christ Jesus said succinctly: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Matt. 16:24, 25;
The spirit and willingness with which one takes up his cross has much to do with his experience in obtaining the victory over the errors of mortal sense. Any tendency to linger over error, whine over the demands of Truth, or vacillate between Spirit and the flesh shows that one has not really glimpsed the goal and committed himself to the way. The picture of the disciples sleeping in the garden while Jesus was experiencing the ultimate struggle is a graphic warning against the lethargy of mortal thought.
But one can remember that the cup he must drink contains the wine of inspiration, and the struggle for mastery over material sense brings the dominion and joy of spiritual sense. Mrs. Eddy says: "The great Master triumphed in furnace fires. Then, Christian Scientists, trust, and trusting, you will find divine Science glorifies the cross and crowns the association with our Saviour in his life of love. There is no redundant drop in the cup that our Father permits us." Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 19;
We are more willing to deny the material self when we see it as mortal mind parading as our own thought. We can be more vigorous in this effort when we impersonalize the error and name it the lie. In yielding to the control of Truth and Love we identify ourselves as the man who is the expression of God, and we thereby acknowledge that there is but one Mind, and that Mind is wholly good. This was the key in Jesus' struggle when he prayed, "Not my will, but thine, be done." Luke 22:42;
Anything that argues for life and intelligence in matter is part of the mortal self, or the mortal will, that must be outgrown. And this is done by degrees as we understand more of the divine Science of being. Self-immolation of mortality, when viewed in Christian Science, becomes the process of self-realization. The false yields to the true, and in this yielding one loses nothing that is real and desirable. Perfection is the standard of divine Mind, and every step forward is a step out of limitation.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Mrs. Eddy tells us that "during his night of gloom and glory in the garden, Jesus realized the utter error of a belief in any possible material intelligence." Science and Health, pp. 47, 48. Such was the experience that prepared him for the resurrection and the ascension. How important for each of us to take immediate steps in this direction and begin to demonstrate the dominion over material sense that is necessary! Through spiritual sense one can begin to understand eternal Life, lay hold of indestructible substance, and feel the assurance of unchanging Love. Laying aside a false sense of self reveals the real man forever whole and safe in the divine likeness.
William Milford Correll