During the recent periods of pandemic lockdown in countries around the world, many have yearned to “get back to normal” as quickly as possible. But as the global wave of protests following the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers have illustrated, our pre-COVID-19 “normal” is for many a far-from-desirable destination to return to.
For this and other reasons, many individuals have hoped instead for a radical reset following lockdown, dreaming of “a new normal” that would be more equitable and community-oriented, with us all caring more for one another, for our fellow creatures, and for the global environment.
I’m sure I haven’t been alone in hankering after both: restoring the treasure trove of time-tested goodness, while going forward with fresh momentum. That combination echoes a point Christ Jesus made in relation to those of his day, such as the scribes, who were steeped in tradition and rules. In their desire to sustain the status quo, they fiercely opposed the healing spirituality preached and proved practical by Christianity’s founder. Yet following an inspired delivery of several parables in which he enjoined his listeners to seek, find, and treasure the kingdom of heaven above all else, Jesus said, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old” (Matthew 13:52, New King James Version).
Jesus wasn’t rejecting what had gone before. But there was a need to see the Hebrew law and the teachings of the prophets that were the basis for the beliefs and practices of the scribes through a new, more spiritual lens—one that would bring to light the promise of the kingdom of heaven within us all. This ever-present kingdom is further explained in Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It is “the reign of harmony in divine Science; the realm of unerring, eternal, and omnipotent Mind; the atmosphere of Spirit, where Soul is supreme” (p. 590).
The fact brought out by Jesus and in Mrs. Eddy’s writings is that the kingdom of heaven is neither a past state nor a hoped-for future, but the timeless truth of our reality. This reality becomes increasingly apparent on earth through individual and collective moral and spiritual regeneration. It’s our ever-intact relation to Spirit, God, as God’s spiritual offspring.
Jesus understood this unwavering relationship to God, and his healing works laid down for all time an indelible marker of the rock-solid continuity of good that we identify and experience as we invest our hope in understanding and evidencing the heavenly kingdom. As we awaken to God’s nature as Spirit, and discern, as Christian Science reveals, that this divine Spirit is truly All, our human outlook shifts. We rise from resignation and despondency to accept the harmony of the divine Principle that is Love and experience its transforming impact. As Science and Health explains, “For true happiness, man must harmonize with his Principle, divine Love; the Son must be in accord with the Father, in conformity with Christ” (p. 337).
Progress for the future is truly the outflow of our recognition of divine reality in the present.
This Christ is what Jesus made plain through his life, healing works, and timeless wisdom. It is the true idea of everyone’s harmonious spiritual reality, even where the ups and downs of matter seem most prevalent. Prioritizing the goal of gaining this Christ consciousness doesn’t ignore the crying need for societal improvements. Seeds of universal progress are sown by every individual gain that is made on this Christly basis of better understanding our relation to God. Turnarounds such as the healings recorded throughout this issue of the Sentinel prove how change for the better in what we experience and express is an inevitable outcome of turning away from material desires to discern what we spiritually are.
This connection between the action of the Christ defining what is spiritually true and the restoration of health, harmony, and sinlessness is a reason for hope. While stubborn resistance may seem to prevent progress, the Christ is always actively revealing the divine goodness that brings about spiritual regeneration in human lives, and societal change is an inevitable outcome of this activity. The demand for uniform justice, global peace and prosperity, ethical leadership, personal and corporate morality, unity across cultures and creeds, and protection of the environment isn’t simply a human wish list. The desire to meet these needs represents the true universe of spiritual purity and harmony—inhabited by the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of spiritual ideas that God creates—urging itself upon us, demanding better adoption in our collective consciousness and better expression in our global experience.
As the truth of what we are as children of one universal creator continues to demand our individual and collective conformity to Christ, everything that doesn’t rightly represent this spiritual reality must be shed—in every nation, race, and culture—until eventually we are left with a “normal” that fully expresses our eternal, divine actuality. As Science and Health points out, “The calm, strong currents of true spirituality, the manifestations of which are health, purity, and self-immolation, must deepen human experience, until the beliefs of material existence are seen to be a bald imposition, and sin, disease, and death give everlasting place to the scientific demonstration of divine Spirit and to God’s spiritual, perfect man” (p. 99).
In this way, progress for the future is truly the outflow of our recognition of divine reality in the present. Knowing this frees us from hanging on to the perceived laurels of a bygone era or vesting our hope in dreams of a better tomorrow. As we actively engage in grasping this true normal of God’s ceaseless goodness now, it will bring solutions to light that bless one and all by cleansing and purging human consciousness of whatever isn’t spiritual. Step by step, this will establish on earth the universal unity, liberty, harmony, and peace of the true kingdom of heaven.
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