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Take Up the Cross

It has been said many times, and I have said it myself, that we do not have to be persecuted with the intensity and drama that Jesus experienced at his trial and crucifixion. Why not? Has mortal mind lost its influence? Does evil give up itself more easily today or is it merely more complicated and subtle? "The modern lash is less material than the Roman scourge, but it is equally as cutting (SH 224:17, emphasis added). Jesus showed us the way. Why would his example be more severe than ours? If giving up all mortal beliefs was easy, would not he have shown us an easy way? One may ask, 'What is it that makes spiritual consciousness so difficult to attain?' It is because we insist on playing God - we wish to single ourselves out as something separate and special; we lust for our own power; we want choices; we want a personal lover rather Love's infinite embrace. Did not the Pharisees seek to kill Jesus to keep their secret loves hidden? Their secrets were as plain as day to Jesus and Christian Science reveals them to us today by the same spiritual method. The veil of the temple, body, has been rent and must fall away from consciousness at whatever price we require.

From his earliest beginnings, mankind has been inventing ways to relieve pain, but every attempt has illustrated his hatred of Truth and Love. The more one insists on material and mental concoctions, the more intense the judgement against ones' self. Like Job in the Bible, we will eventually stop ruminating over our woes and declining physical conditions and begin to seek wisdom from something other than material observations. When the moment arrives that we can no longer tolerate sin in ourselves, the foolish beliefs hidden in the deep recesses of thought begin to emerge. "Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins" (Lam 3:39)? "Does not Science show that sin brings suffering as much to-day as yesterday? They who sin must suffer" (SH 37:1).

The decision to leave all for Christ induces the ultimate sacrifice of self, and resurrection is the only possible outcome and the only real proof of our sincerity. Persecution for righteousness' sake is the valley through which we all must pass to our glory. Resurrection is equivalent to the return of the Prodigal - a restoration of our true home, an acknowledgement of our redemption from sin, a reuniting with Father/Mother, and an all-encompassing gratitude for Being. Spiritual atonement does not require so-called physical death because, to the Science of life, there is no death. When we are born again, that is, when we awake to perfect living, temptations do not exist, and therefore they have no influence or meaning. Did Saint John complain when he was told that the authorities were preparing to boil him in oil? According to one ancient text, he laughed. He had learned through many simpler tests that matter does not determine or constitute life. Daniel went meekly into the lion's den, and the three Hebrew men walked with God in the fiery furnace. They did not hedge about their fears, hiding in temples made with hands, and lowering their standards in order to avoid threats of persecution. Bound to good alone, they rose to defeat every secret fault within themselves with meekness, forgiveness, vigilance, and love.

Persecution is the final test of our fidelity to Truth and Love. Focusing on the trial and fearing it, you will feel the destruction of your physical body. On the other hand, "good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort" (My 210:7). "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul" (Matt 10:28). In other words, fear not the dreadful threats that evil will scream when its lies are found out. Remember, it was acceptance of those very enticements that produced the so-called material body in the first place. False beliefs cannot identify Truth, understand Love, or be Love's creation. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (I Pet 4:12-13).

There is nothing out there to hurt us. "The mental arrow shot from another's bow is practically harmless, unless our own thought barbs it" (Mis 223:30). Therefore what appears as a cross to be taken up is really a mental battle - a warfare with our own thorny fears and convictions. Why should we accept our so-called enemies' persistent inversions of God's thoughts? Disarm persecution with divine Love and you disrobe error, save yourself, and "rise into newness of life with regeneration" (SH 24:12).

George Denninger ©

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