“Out with the old, in with the new.” That’s not always a welcome thought. I vividly remember resisting a particular car ride to the store to get a new pair of shoes. My mom was at the wheel, reminding me that what I was wearing was falling apart and too small for my rapidly growing feet.
I had hunkered down in the back seat. I liked my shoes. They were comfortable. My grade school logic saw no reason for a change.
It didn’t help that the new shoes were stiff and didn’t seem to bend with my feet as I walked back to the car in them. I complained all the way home. But after a week of running around the neighborhood, I realized that the new pair did fit better. I was actually faster in them and could even keep up with the older kids.
A small change in footwear brought a significant change for the better. It made needed room for growth.
It’s not uncommon for people to find that a right idea—even if initially difficult to accept—brings about progress. And the right idea of God and of each of us individually and collectively as God’s children is at the heart of Christian Science healing. What God is as infinite Love never wavers in its completeness. Love is so constant, it is an unchanging Principle that upholds the spiritual perfection of all creation. Love penetrates human consciousness, touching and transforming whatever appears imperfect and incomplete to us through the activity of the Christ. We find ourselves able to let go of anything that has been entangling us in fear or illness or unhappiness. It no longer has any hold on us. Instead, we see tangible evidence that each of us is blessed and loved and cared for, and that health and well-being are innate to all of us.
One person who found freedom from both smoking and drinking, as well as from headaches and stomach problems, expressed it this way: “As I progressed in the understanding as gained from the study of both Science and Health[with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy] and the Bible, and commenced to know myself, I found that a great change had been wrought in me.… I have lost nothing, I have sacrificed nothing; but I have gained everything, and not yet the whole, for I can see plenty yet to be done” (Science and Health, p. 679).
What is it to know ourselves—our true selves—rightly? Isn’t it to turn away from a human biography, from genetics and environment, memories and heartaches, and even achievements and accolades? These would interfere with our knowing God as our true Parent and recognizing our identity as far beyond mortal résumés.
Instead, we have an ongoing Christ-invitation to accept our divine nature as the whole of who we are. In fact, we can say that a right understanding of identity is the foundation of all Christian transformation and spiritual growth. It is where we “put off … the old man” and “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22, 24).
If we want to experience progressive changes in our lives, we first need to embrace the Christ.
Perhaps it’s a good reminder that the calendar places Christmas before New Year’s and all those resolutions to improve ourselves. If we want to experience progressive changes in our lives, we first need to embrace the Christ. Only then will the real reformation that redeems humanity take place in us. If instead we are simply swept along by ad campaigns for new diets, new exercise regimens, and new strategies for eliminating debt, we’ll be employing limited human effort and human will to improve our situations, never breaking the inevitable cycle of relapse into disappointment.
Christ alone takes us to the higher view of identity and purpose that is God-derived and God-sustained. We climb the mountain of spiritual revelation as we let the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount transform how we think and act.
We begin with the Beatitudes’ reminding us that the difficulties of human experience can’t conceal the power and presence of God’s love. Whether we’ve lost someone or something, or whether we’re trying to do the right thing and only finding hardship, we’re still deeply and profoundly blessed. We are taught to love generously and courageously—it fits who we really are—and to keep working at this better understanding of our spiritual nature.
Sometimes it may not seem easy to let go of our old habits and patterns. We may have to take a radical stand for what’s right. But if we ask, we’ll receive. If we seek, we’ll find. If we knock, the door will open, for our Father-Mother is delighted to give us the kingdom of heaven (see Matthew 7:7, 8).
You might say that each step up this mountain is learning how to receive that kingdom—how to let go of the old and welcome the new. Not losing anything but gaining everything. Mary Baker Eddy wrote encouragingly to those who had committed themselves to practicing this scientific Christianity that Jesus lived and taught: “My Beloved Brethren:—My heart goes out to you as ever in daily desire that the Giver of all good transform you into His own image and likeness” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 15).
Whether we have been resisting change in our lives—or deeply yearning for it—the right idea of who we are moves us forward. God is graciously impelling this irresistible spiritual growth and transformation.
*See Anna L. Waring, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 148
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