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Listen, Hear, Return

HOSEA was an obedient and faithful prophet-a person who heard God clearly and saw things spiritually. God had a special mission for him. The Good News Bible says God told him: ''Go and get married; your wife will be unfaithful, and your children will be just like her'' (Hosea 1:2).

Hosea obeyed God. In the eyes of others he was undiscerning and gullible. His wife, Gomer, bore him three children before she left him and went back into the streets. God told the tenderhearted Hosea to go into the slave market and buy her back. For a small sum and a few bushels of barley, he reclaimed her. God told him to love Gomer, even though she loved adultery. More ridicule followed, as his fellow Israelites watched, stunned with amazement.

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Little did they realize, they were observing a living object lesson, symbolizing the truth of their own wayward lives. Hosea exhorted them to listen to God, hear Him, and return to Him. Over a dozen times he shouted ''return,'' but they didn't. Three years later, Israel fell into the hands of Assyria.

Hosea had been speaking to his people of a God of forgiving love. His message was that we must love and forgive in the same manner. This message is not obsolete. Christ Jesus later preached the same message in its fullness. He said, according to Matthew, ''Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'' (4:17). At another time, he advised, ''No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon'' (Matthew 6:24). You can't love and forgive people and simultaneously condemn them.

Two thousand years later, these words are still relevant. How many of us put materialism at the top of our agendas? We insist that, contrary to the message of the Bible (see Luke 12:15), life does consist of the abundance of things we possess, the people we impress, and so forth. Jesus taught that we cannot worship matter and Spirit, error and Truth, the human and the divine. We have to choose whom we obey as our God. To receive the rewards that are promised to God's children, we cannot worship anything apart from Him. The instruction of Jesus was to seek spiritual truth. And he assured his followers that in doing this, all human necessities would be taken care of (see Matthew 6:33).

Hosea and Jesus were revealing the one God of love and forgiveness, who insists on being first in our lives. Return and repent both can mean to change one's way of thinking; to return to God. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science was Mary Baker Eddy. She wrote a book called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which explains how anyone can find and know God-or return to Him. Two essentials she found for this were to express childlike receptivity to the Word of God, and to cultivate a willingness to leave old ways of living for the new ones that Christ, Truth, presents. Mrs. Eddy further pointed out in Science and Health: ''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. It is only a question of time when 'they shall all know Me [God], from the least of them unto the greatest' '' (pp. 241-242).

It is by coming to know the supremacy of God, and God's likeness, that we learn to repent-to change thought. And repenting of the belief that a good God could create a sinning mortal opens the door to the truth. When you or I or anyone repents of and forsakes any sinful thought and act, and exposes and understands its falsity, we can be truly free of it. Putting this activity of changing our thinking into regular practice, and striving to do the will of God, enable us to listen to God, hear Him, and return to Him.

Look unto me, and

be ye saved, all the ends

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of the earth: for I am God,

and there is none else.

Isaiah 45:22

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