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Beyond the Needle's Eye

HAVE you ever been faced with a problem that looked unsolvable? Maybe it seemed as big as a camel, while its solution appeared hidden beyond a tiny needle's eye. When Christ Jesus told his disciples, ``It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,'' they naturally wondered if anyone could be saved. Yet Jesus assured them that ``with God all things are possible.''

The heavenly kingdom -- the spiritual harmony that encompasses the solutions to our problems -- is not actually remote or otherworldly. Jesus said it is just at hand, within us. So when he spoke of the camel, he was not describing the impossibility of reaching heaven, he was pointing out the mental attitude that would make heaven seem unattainable.

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The ``riches'' that would shut us out from heaven may include dependence on material wealth. But is not overbearing pride, for example, likely to see heaven, spiritual reality, as far away? Or egotism, carnality, anger, to name a few more? These are as separated from heaven as a camel behind a needle's eye.

Yet no person can be permanently shut out of God's kingdom. Our true, spiritual selfhood is created by God and is inseparable from Him. Through prayer and repentance, we can begin to forsake whatever traits are unlike God and therefore unlike our true nature. Then we'll find that the impassable wall will be behind us.

I once found this to be the case. I had been working at a job I loved. But one relationship had become the center for conflicting emotions, including an unwise personal attraction that gave rise to jealousy and guilt. Although I deeply wanted to remain where I had many friends and felt productive, my mental turmoil was such that I thought I could find peace only if I left.

Gradually I began to realize that the upheaval I felt pointed up the fact that belief in selfhood separate from God always cuts itself off from His harmony. The more impressive this self seemed to me, the less likely entrance into heavenly grace seemed.

But I could instead uncover my innate spiritual identity. Since in truth man reflects God, as His likeness I was at peace. I prayed to express the humility in which human egotism yields to spiritual power.

Finding release from strong personal feelings and perspectives was not easy. There were setbacks, but eventually the problem was resolved. I was able to continue in the job.

To an inflated, self-centered attitude, harmony had indeed been unattainable. But real, spiritual identity can never be shut out of heavenly harmony. Heaven is always its home.

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Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``It is `easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,' than for sinful beliefs to enter the kingdom of heaven, eternal harmony. Through repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration, mortals put off their material beliefs and false individuality.''

We find answers to our problems as we discover our true, spiritual individuality. God moves us to the repentance and purification by which we find our spiritual identity. Then we realize the wall is not between us and harmony but behind us. Every time this happens, we can feel stronger assurance that His kingdom is truly present -- and that we are forever within it.

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