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Chipping away

If we were to watch two men begin to chip away at two large blocks of granite , not knowing that one of the men was a sculptor, it might seem for quite a while that they were doing the same thing. But the sculptor will have formed a clear idea - a mental model - of the object he ''sees'' in the stone, and will be chipping away that which hides it from view. The other man will chip away with perhaps no clear idea of what might be ''inside'' the granite, or with a model in mind that changes as the granite reacts to his uncertain chiseling. (How many of us have started out to make a horse and ended up with a duck!)

To be a Christian is to take on a job requiring at least as much skill as a first-class sculptor. We must be able to form a clear mental concept of the real man that God made, and love it enough to spend our lives chipping away at the ungodlike qualities that hide it from view. And we can't allow our concept of the Godlike man to be changed by what seems to be happening as we chip. The chisel must be under the firm control of the truth if the ideal is to show forth.

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The Scriptures point to the true concept. ''Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace,'' n1 sang the Psalmist; and, ''Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,'' n2 said Christ Jesus. What is the perfect man that we should ''mark,'' ''behold,'' and ''be''? Surely it's not Adam, the ever changing materialized concept of man introduced in the second chapter of Genesis. Isn't it, then, the complete and therefore unchanging man made in God's, Spirit's, image and likeness - the spiritual man with dominion described in the first chapter of Genesis?

n1 Psalms 37:37.

n2 Matthew 5:48.

The Scriptures also provide lessons on how to chisel. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matt., chaps. 5, 6, and 7) identifies the ungodlike qualities that have to be put off so that the immortal, Godlike man can appear. The perfect model was exemplified in the life of Christ Jesus; and when we subordinate our chiseling to the demands of the Christ - when we strive to express the love and spiritual strength and purity illustrated by the Master - our chiseling bears the fruit of healing, just as Jesus promised it would.

Every human problem can be permanently solved only by healing, by chipping off and discarding whatever is unlike the perfect model. Sickness, unemployment, depression, loneliness - all the ubiquitous presentations of materialism - are not attributes of the perfect man, because they are not of God. They can be healed by faithfully beholding the perfect model as the reflection of God, omnipotent good, and by removing through prayer all that claims to obscure the presence of that perfect model. The faithful practice of Christianity requires great discipline of thought and behavior and a deep love for the ideal model and what it reflects.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''The conceptions of mortal, erring thought must give way to the ideal of all that is perfect and eternal. Through many generations human beliefs will be attaining diviner conceptions, and the immortal and perfect model of God's creation will finally be seen as the only true conception of being.'' n3

n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.260.

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It's not enough just to chip away at sin, and it's not enough just to hold a perfect model in mind. There must be heartfelt prayer and regeneration as well. A Christian needs to be active in all these ways. DAILY BIBLE VERSE We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. II Corthians 3:18

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