‘Citizens … of the household of God’

I’ve been thinking and praying about the difficulties migrants are facing in many corners of the world. This issue appears to be so complex and heartbreaking that at times I have felt inadequate to pray about it. But one day an angel message came to me showing how I might pray. It also gave me a fresh view of a familiar Bible story: the parable of the prodigal son, as told by Christ Jesus (see Luke 15:11–32).  

In this story, a son is eager to leave home and asks his father for his inheritance. He heads off to a “far country” and wastes his inheritance, leaving him destitute and desperate. He ultimately decides to head back to his native land, believing he is no longer worthy to be called his father’s son, but hoping he can work as one of his father’s hired servants. But he gets much more than this: The father greets him with open arms, and his position as a loved and honored son is reinstated (or rather, newly affirmed)—and, it may be added, amid much joy and celebration.  

This story always gives me so much to think about, and on this particular morning I asked God to give me a new insight as to how I could better relate the story’s moral to myself and others. Then this thought came: “You are not a dual citizen.” This was an eye-opener. To be sure, there are times when there can be definite advantages, from a human standpoint, to having dual citizenship. But I asked myself what this message could mean spiritually. 

I thought about the truth that, spiritually speaking, no one actually has a dual identity, or dueling identities—that each of us is spiritual and immortal. We are made in the very image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27), and God is Spirit, so we are spiritual. In other words, we are not immortals and also mortals, straddling two realities with one foot in the realm of Spirit and the other in a supposed material existence. 

This truth applies to everyone, including migrants. The angel message I received about not having a dual citizenship affirms that all people actually dwell in the realm of Spirit, where no one can be shut out or deprived of any good, because God, the source of all good, is always with them.  

This reminded me of an experience that occurred many years ago. I was working at a law firm, and an attorney told me that he and a fellow lawyer were working on a difficult asylum case. It involved a young man desperate to escape his country because of the country’s harsh political regime. He had stowed away on a ship headed to the New York harbor in the United States. He was being held in a detention center, and the attorney expressed a great deal of concern about the outcome of the case. If the judge decided against granting asylum, the young man would be sent back to his country. The likelihood of survival upon his return was in serious doubt. On top of this, the lawyer told me that the case was before a judge who had earned the nickname “Judge No,” because she so often took a hard line when it came to these kinds of petitions.  

All people actually dwell in the realm of Spirit, where no one can be shut out or deprived of any good.

This story was very disturbing to hear, and I must admit I put it out of my mind so I wouldn’t have to keep thinking about it. However, a few weeks later the two attorneys introduced me to the case’s expert witness. The expert told me the case would be heard in court the following morning. That’s when I knew I had to pray. But how?

When I got home from work that day, I asked God to show me what I needed to know. I opened up the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and this sentence seemed to jump off the page: “I saw before me the awful conflict, the Red Sea and the wilderness; but I pressed on through faith in God, trusting Truth, the strong deliverer, to guide me into the land of Christian Science, where fetters fall and the rights of man are fully known and acknowledged” (pp. 226–227). This was my answer. I could know that the man seeking refuge already resided in the land of Truth, under God’s government and protective care. In addition to this, I saw that God, “the strong deliverer,” was the only real judge on the case. 

I was sure that these were established and irreversible spiritual facts, and I was able to trust that God was in control. 

The next morning I saw one of the attorneys. She had just come back from court and was absolutely beaming. With a huge smile she told me, “ ‘Judge No’ said ‘Yes’!” Later, I had the pleasure of meeting this man the judge had said yes to, and the joy he expressed in his newfound freedom was something to behold.

I was so grateful to witness the proof that this man, like everyone, dwells solely and permanently in Spirit’s care. This is the lesson of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. The prodigal had initially set out to change his “citizenship,” or identity, from being a loved son, secure in his father’s homeland, to being a wasteful and riotous thrill seeker in a materialistic world. But he finally realized he must turn away from merely materialistic living (as the parable puts it, “he came to himself”), and he wanted to return to his father’s house. One might call that “house” the consciousness of spiritual reality. And as he was returning, he discovered that his father saw him even while he was still “a great way off.” We might say that wherever the prodigal was on his journey, his father never lost sight of his son’s true identity as good, spiritual, and safe.

The corollary for us is that we are not really living a life separated from our Father, God, because God always loves us and holds us in His care—and in our true identity as spiritual and perfect. What a wonderful message of hope and strength this can be for any migrant who may be struggling.

Christian Science shows that in our true spiritual nature, we are not subject to the beliefs of a material world with its discordant suggestions of sin, sickness, and death. The Apostle Paul brought this out so well when he wrote, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).  

All of us forever have a place in God’s kingdom.

In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy provides “the scientific statement of being,” which declares, “Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual” (p. 468). She also writes in the same work, “Man in the likeness of God as revealed in Science cannot help being immortal” (p. 81). And God has given us the ability to prove the reality of our spiritual being. When we understand something of this spiritual reality, we are enabled not only to find the refuge we need, but also to heal sickness and sin.

My very modest efforts to understand the magnitude of this and utilize it in my own life have encouraged me to continue to appreciate what God made me—and all of us—to be. I’ve found healing when I’ve understood clearly the fact that life is spiritual, not material. 

Once, I was dealing with a skin irritation that would not yield. One day, I was talking with a Christian Science practitioner whom I had asked to pray for me. The practitioner told me that I live in the kingdom of God and not in a material body. She must have discerned that I was trying to change a bad material condition into a better one instead of really valuing what I truly am as the reflection of God. What she said helped to lift my thoughts above the material picture of skin irritation so that I could know what was true about me spiritually—and I was healed of that condition.

A single-minded approach to life as wholly spiritual and not at all material is a discipline, but it can be applied to our view of ourselves and everyone, without exception. All of us forever have a place in God’s kingdom. We always have been and always will be Spirit’s sons and daughters. We’re not dual citizens living in both the realm of spiritual reality where we are at one with God and a material world separated from God. As the Bible tells us, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

Keeping God as the head of the household
December 10, 2018

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