Who of us, at one time or another, hasn’t said or done something that we are not proud of, or perhaps even made what seems to be a paralyzing mistake—something we feel keeps us from moving forward on a better path? In that sense, we’re probably no different than many of the Bible luminaries who had less than perfect lives: Moses (killed a man), Jacob (stole his brother’s birthright), David (lied and committed adultery), Saul (persecuted Christians), to name just a few! Yet, even they found redemption and new purpose in God’s saving grace.
The book of Matthew illustrates that each of us is just as deserving of the redeeming love of God. It tells of a man with palsy who was brought to Christ Jesus on his bed by the people of the city of Capernaum, where Jesus was living at the time. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man: “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.” He goes straight to the crux of the matter: Your sins are forgiven. His immediate forgiveness demonstrated not only compassion, but his ability to see beyond what appeared to be a sinful, mortal man—with his flaws and misdeeds—to the man that God created and to recognize his spiritual, sinless individuality. This spiritual discernment gave Jesus the authority to say to the man, “Arise, take up thy bed and go unto thine house” (9:2, 6), and it enabled the man to get up and walk into his house, healed.
But what if we can’t find it in us to feel that someone is worthy of redemption or forgiveness, or to be healed of a physical condition we attribute to some sin? Perhaps we even feel unforgiving of ourselves and are despondent about our failings and unable to see beyond our misdeeds or perceived faults. If so, the Christly love that Jesus expressed, which freed the man of his sins, whatever they might have been, is here right now assuring us that we, too, are worthy of healing. This regenerating love, which can only come from divine Love, shows us there is a way out. It is possible to come out from under the cloud of negativity about ourselves or our actions by yielding to divine Truth’s call to “arise”—to resist the persistent belief that man is mortal and therefore capable of sin.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, explains the importance of challenging any thought that is unlike God’s nature and therefore unlike man’s nature as God’s reflection. She writes, “A mental state of self-condemnation and guilt or a faltering and doubting trust in Truth are unsuitable conditions for healing the sick” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 455). While it may seem otherwise, these feelings are a product not of our own thought, but of the “carnal mind,” or mortal mind. This mind is not truly our mind, since God is the only Mind, and we reflect this Mind, which knows us as only God knows us—pure and perfect.
The Christly love that Jesus expressed is here right now assuring us that we, too, are worthy of healing.
No matter what omissions or oversights have occurred in one’s life, nothing can change us from being the expression of God’s love, the very reflection of His sinless nature. No matter how much we wallow around in a mud puddle of self-recrimination or condemnation, we cannot be separated from divine Love. The Bible says, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). Sometimes, we read promises like this but feel very distant from them. But we can never be outside Love’s presence since we are at one with Love, in which there is no sense of sin or self-condemnation.
When we are praying for release from self-defeating thoughts, it can be helpful to consider that the Greek word for “sin” is hamartia, which is derived from the verb hamartanō, meaning “to miss the mark.” This throws a different light on sin. We might begin to ask ourselves, “Is our thinking missing the mark?” In other words, “Have we lost sight of our perfection as God’s child, and are we seeing what God is not seeing or hearing what God is not hearing or feeling what God is not feeling?” Divine Love forces us to accept as true about ourselves only what God knows and sees of us, and since omniscient Spirit does not know sin, then it never has been a part of our experience or identity.
Forgiving ourselves, removing self-condemnation, requires a willingness to repent, to relinquish a false sense of self and let divine Love lead the way—to ask God to show us what He is seeing and knowing about His creation and then to conform to our true nature as God’s reflection. And so, we hit the mark rather than miss it.
Many of us have felt the warmth of a summer day shut out the frosty morning air. The warmth of summer does not know about the bitter morning air it dissolves. In the same way, divine Love knows no opposite but naturally eradicates whatever is unlike itself. In her book No and Yes, Mrs. Eddy states: “The law of Life and Truth is the law of Christ, destroying all sense of sin and death. It does more than forgive the false sense named sin, for it pursues and punishes it, and will not let sin go until it is destroyed,—until nothing is left to be forgiven, to suffer, or to be punished” (p. 30). The law of divine Life and Truth pursues and punishes sin by dissolving every thought that “misses the mark” or deviates from God’s goodness.
Forgiving ourselves, removing self-condemnation, requires a willingness to repent, to relinquish a false sense of self and let divine Love lead the way.
Christ Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son gives us valuable insights about how divine Love pardons. Jesus tells us that despite several harmful lifestyle choices, the son woke up to the barrenness of his existence and remembered his rightful place as a member of his father’s household. His disappointments and his humility led him to return home and offer himself first as a servant in his father’s house, and not as a son. But as soon as his father saw him, he felt only compassion for his son, and ran to him, welcoming him home with a kiss.
When pondering this parable, I have often asked myself why Jesus said that the father saw his son returning home when he was “a great way off” (Luke 15:20). Was he standing at a window or at the end of a path, waiting and watching for his son to return home? It has occurred to me that perhaps the lesson we are meant to take from this is that our heavenly Father can never lose sight of His sons and daughters, no matter how far off, to human sense, we appear to have strayed from our pure, spiritual selfhood. As much as we may try, none of us can leave our true home, the kingdom of heaven, where we are safe, our Godlikeness is maintained, and our needs are abundantly met. Even if, like the prodigal son, we make poor choices, our Father never condemns us, He just loves. Moreover, no matter where we go, or whatever we do, God never loses sight of our true identity.
This is how divine Love redeems us. This is how Love forgives sin. Love never sees us as sinners. Love never accepts that we can think or act outside of Love—that unloveliness or selfishness or unkindness are part of our nature or can enter our experience. The omnipotence and omnipresence of Love purify consciousness, washing away a false sense of self and revealing to us our loving, sinless, divine nature. Self-condemnation, guilt—all sin—cannot resist the reforming power of ever-present, divine Love.
Access more great content like this
Welcome to JSH-Online, the home of the digital editions of The Christian Science Journal, Sentinel, and Herald. We hope you enjoy the content that has been shared with you. To learn more about JSH-Online visit our Learn More page or Subscribe to receive full access to the entire archive of these periodicals, and to new text and audio content added daily.