Two divergent ways of life are typified by the figure of the yoke, as used by Paul in the fifth chapter of Galatians, and by Christ Jesus in the eleventh chapter of Matthew. "Be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage," warns Paul; while Jesus urges with irresistible appeal, "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."
Wearing the "yoke of bondage," we are joined to material thinking, stalled on the road of spiritual progress, thereby losing time and direction, and troubled with a sense of frustration and bewilderment. These are the bonds which fasten us to material belief and limitation. Taking upon us the yoke commended by our loved Way-shower, the yoke he wore so consistently and triumphantly, we experience not the false sense of ease which matter sometimes affords, but the unity, the poise and freedom which emanate directly from Spirit, God. We are bound to Him by the yoke of love, which cannot be strained or broken, misplaced or entangled. We are wearing the yoke of liberation, not slavery, and are thereby unhampered in our spiritual journey.
As earnest students of Christian Science we have accepted the yoke proffered by Christ Jesus, and it has become to us the means of consecration and obedience. Our thinking is being conformed to a new pattern, shaped by our growing spiritual understanding. Continually do we feel the pertinency of Paul's words, "Be not entangled again," preceded as they are by the admonition, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherwith Christ hath made us free." It is our paramount desire to perceive the truths of Christian Science with such clarity that we shall apply them rightly and spontaneously to the removal of the effects of materiality from our lives.
It may be helpful to consider what constitutes this material bondage from which we seek release. On page 226 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" Mary Baker Eddy describes the plight of humanity in these words: "I saw before me the sick, wearing out years of servitude to an unreal master in the belief that the body governed them, rather than Mind." In these few words we have the kernel of the whole difficulty. Mortals have accepted the postulate that man lives in a material body, environed by a material universe, subject to so-called material laws, those paradoxical laws which assert that growth merges into decay, life into death. Admitting a physical status for himself, the misguided mortal has likewise admitted all the hazards which accompany that assumption—injury, sickness, sin, poverty, wrong adjustments, age, death.
Believing that man possesses a material body and a personality contingent upon that body, mortals fall prey to myriad subtle temptations. Separated from God by the error of material belief, the mortal wanders in the paths of material indulgence, shallow pleasures, anxious and frightened forebodings. The false sense of self leaves thought open to aggressive mental suggestion appealing to some secret fear, stirring up a confusion of wrong moves and physical troubles. Tragic is the predicament of self-imposed bondage to material belief, from which matter offers no means of release.
On page 403 of Science and Health we find an emancipating declaration for those bound in the slavery of mortal belief: "You command the situation if you understand that mortal existence is a state of self-deception and not the truth of being." These words give us a true sense of relief. We learn that we are not compelled to yield to material beliefs, but that we may reject the unreal dream of mortal existence.
If we can uproot from our thinking the belief in existence as material, we are prepared to cope with manifold assaults of mortal mind upon the peace of mankind. Howbeit, we need to remember Christ Jesus' words, "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."
Which yoke are we wearing, the yoke of oppression or the yoke of freedom? The latter yoke represents the unity which exists between God and man, the at-onement of spiritual man with his creator, infinite and omnipotent Spirit. It exemplifies the eternal unity existing between God and His universe, including man.
How may we lay aside our self-will, our personal desires, our false sense of self, and take this perfectly adjusted yoke and thereby walk with divine Spirit? We must prize spiritual unity with God, as above all else, above cherished human relationships and engrossing occupations. By constantly turning to God as the one loved and trusted friend, counselor, guide, we cultivate allegiance to Him and become conscious of His tender bounty and care. Prayer is the link of understanding which binds us to divine Principle, whence comes the answer to every conceivable human need. Experiencing this conscious unity with divine Mind, we discover our eternal Godlikeness in inclination, purpose, nature. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"
Desiring to lead others to seek conscious unity with God, we are continually reminded that we must first be in unity with God ourselves. Our errant human nature must needs be brought into conformity with the pure spiritual standard of Truth. Yearning for the redemption of mankind, we must individually prove that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." We walk in obedience to divine Principle when we imbibe into our thinking the teaching of Christ Jesus, who completely demonstrated man's essential eternal oneness with God.
"O walk with God along the road,
Your strength He will renew;
Wait on the everlasting God,
And He will walk with you."