SEVERAL years ago I prepared weekly entertainment for youths in a detention center. They ranged in age from ten to eighteen, and all were charged with offenses such as arson and theft. During a social period after one program, a young, blue-eyed boy grasped my hand and said, ``I'm not a bad boy.'' Clearly, he wanted me to recognize his true identity. He wanted me to see him as inherently good. He was appealing for Christlike compassion, which sees every individual as the blameless, immortal likeness of God, Spirit. This is the reality that Christ Jesus perceived in others.
In his ministry, the Master distinguished between God's true creation, which is perfect, and the counterfeit sense of man as a mortal sinner. Jesus taught, ``That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.''1 He recognized the truth of only one creation -- God's spiritual creation. And as he mingled with humanity he adhered to this pure, spiritual standpoint. He saw incorrigibleness or disease not as fixed facts but as falsity, as no part of God's likeness, who must be flawless. It was this understanding that enabled him to heal sin and sickness.
Then comes the question, How does one implement Jesus' teaching in environments such as a juvenile detention center? When we long to help, there's always a Christly way to touch and comfort troubled hearts. Although the rules at the center didn't permit visitors to counsel, I assured the boy that I understood. I'm confident that he felt my love for him because prior to every program I prayed to see the true selfhood of all the children as God's perfect image, expressing His goodness.
To the best of my ability I saw every boy and girl as fathered and mothered by God, all-loving divine Mind. I denied the conviction that children can be separated from parental love, because Jesus' prayer, the Lord's Prayer, reveals God as man's universal Father.2 I resolved to see the children and their parents as intelligent, loved, spiritual ideas of God, reflecting only His perfect nature. I thought of everyone present as a guest of God, provided for and contented within His constant love and care.
I guarded my thought from misleading, wrong impressions usually attached to incorrigibles. My constant guideline was ``Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.''3 The plain logic in this statement helped me maintain a steadfast spiritual love that doesn't ignore sin but sees through its imposition to the absolute truth of man's Godlikeness. Many experiences had proved to me that belief in two kinds of man, one fleshly and one Godlike, dishonors God and His perfect manifestation.
The Scriptural record in the first chapter of Genesis acknowledges God as the creator and what He created to be very good. Then, reality is spiritual, expressing God's nature, not mortal or evil. To believe that reality is a mix of good and evil, immortality and mortality, weakens our healing effort, because belief in two causes denies God's allness and perfection. Dualism denies man's spiritual birthright of uprightness and excellence. As we discipline our thought to see everyone in this spiritual light, we're not ignoring wrong behavior. Rather, we consciously embrace others in their God-given, native purity, and this perception helps them. This Christly concept, faithfully held to, enables us to see children as they truly are -- at home in God, blessed by divine Love, and obedient to the one parent Mind.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``When speaking of God's children, not the children of men, Jesus said, `The kingdom of God is within you;' that is, Truth and Love reign in the real man, showing that man in God's image is unfallen and eternal.''4
When we make a vigorous, conscious effort to heal from this Christly standpoint, we make a mighty contribution to humanity.
1John 3:6. 2See Matthew 6:9. 3I John 3:9. 4Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 476.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright. Ecclesiastes 7:29