WE are moved by others' examples of courage. Listening to former Beirut hostage Brian Keenan speak, one is struck with his resilience and inner strength. Through his long ordeal he was able to resist the lies and denigrating of his captors. Though physically held prisoner, his freedom as a thinking individual grew stronger. Examples like his encourage us. One man's triumph makes us think that perhaps we too can overcome captivities we face. It could be that we have felt trapped in an impossible job, or in an unhappy relationship, or confined by sickness. Often what pulls us through difficult situations is a deep-seated conviction that it's right to be free. Such a conviction is a glimpse of what the Apostle Paul called ``the glorious liberty of the children of God.''
If we have intuitively felt that God can liberate us from difficulties, then we are responding to the spiritual truth found in the Bible. There man is described as the child of Spirit, God. God-given freedom is based on man's spiritual identity as the immortal image of his creator. Following the teaching of the Bible, we can understand that because God -- Spirit -- can't be imprisoned in material confines, His creation, spiritual man, is unfettered too.
To know ourselves as spiritual is a tremendous change from thinking that we are material beings, trapped by overpowering circumstances. To help us understand who we are spiritually, we have the aid of Christ Jesus' life and teachings. He knew better than anyone before or since that man's freedom is God-given.
When Jesus was brought before Pilate to be sentenced, Pilate said to him, ``Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?'' Jesus' reply was, ``Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.'' The Master attributed power to God alone and through his resurrection successfully defeated the belief that mortality or evil has true power.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, perceived that because God, good, is all-powerful, evil is necessarily powerless. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes: ``Mankind must learn that evil is not power. Its so-called despotism is but a phase of nothingness.''
As we learn more of God's all-power, we start to acknowledge His government in our lives and find that we are attributing less and less power to evil circumstances or influences. As we learn of God as Love, we trust the moral power of good to overcome the immorality of injustice. The qualities of love and compassion we express can bring release from unjust and unhappy situations. Innocence belongs to man's spiritual nature and has tremendous power to protect us from harm and injustice. Through prayer and practice, we can develop an understanding of our relationship to God that literally breaks down walls of domination or discouragement or fear.
Does it take extreme circumstances, like being held hostage, to learn about man's freedom? Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to meet more ordinary challenges with the assurance that all individuals are, in reality, God's creation and therefore free from bondage? Through our large and small experiences we can prove to ourselves that Spirit and its expression are forever free. No matter what it is that would imprison us, we have a right to freedom. It belongs to our spiritual identity as the child of God.
You can find more articles about spiritual healing in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.