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Proved Innocent

IN Britain recently, a man had a conviction for murder overturned after serving four years in jail. At his first trial he had been accused of the murder of his girlfriend's four-year-old daughter and found guilty, mainly on the evidence of one expert in neurosurgery.

Kevin Callan would probably still be imprisoned if not for two things-first, his absolute conviction of his own innocence, and second, his willingness to work to prove that innocence. Despite having only limited education, from his first moment in jail he applied himself to studying medical textbooks and legal papers. He corresponded with a neurosurgeon in faraway New Zealand. When the appeals court finally heard the fresh evidence that Callan's tireless researches had brought to light, his innocence was established quickly.

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Callan's exceptional diligence, his singleminded dedication to establishing his innocence, can shine as an example to all of us. Though most of us won't face the indignity of wrongful imprisonment, people often feel imprisoned by their circumstances. They feel to some degree the same sense of injustice that incarceration entails. Whether the circumstances involve a physical incapacity, financial crisis, relationship stress, or whatever, one could start to address the need for help by asking himself or herself, ''Am I willing to work to prove my spiritual innocence''?

What kind of work will bring such proof? And what is the value of proving spiritual innocence? The Bible includes an example of how two followers of Christ Jesus worked to overturn an unjust prison sentence by proving that in the eyes of God they were innocent. The book of Acts records that Paul and Silas were put in jail for healing a woman of a troubling ''spirit of divination'' (see chap. 16, verses 16-40). Those who had been making a profit from her were displeased and had Paul and Silas thrown into jail. Despite having been whipped, and despite finding themselves in a secure prison at midnight (the darkest of hours), Paul and Silas dedicated themselves to praying and praising God.

The results of this prayer? The book of Acts reports, ''And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.''

Paul and Silas both endeavored to maintain their conviction that God was present and that He had all power. They proved an innocence that went far deeper than just not having committed a crime; actually, they demonstrated the innocency of their spiritual identities. The spiritual identity of each of us makes us entirely independent of material circumstances or conditions. This is a provable identity of all men and women, including those who have committed crimes, and those who have ignorantly or maliciously arrested people who haven't committed crimes. Although wrongdoing demands of the perpetrator repentance, reformation, and restitution, ''spiritually innocent'' is the actual status of everyone right now. Christian Science, discovered by Mary Baker Eddy, shows how to demonstrate this.

In the midst of all you might face, in your darkest hour, how do you work exclusively to pray and to praise God? Study of the Bible together with Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by Mrs. Eddy, has helped and is helping many people. Christ Jesus taught that each of us is essentially good, and that each can hear God's voice. This is the truth that has the power to free us from all types of imprisonment, both physical and mental. Inspiration that results from prayer is the key to freedom from whatever hampers or hinders us.

Science and Health includes the following statement: ''Innocence and Truth overcome guilt and error'' (p. 568). Every iota of progress you make in understanding and demonstrating your own spiritual innocence proves something also of the innocence of all men, women, and children. This work is ultimately before everyone, and so it's worth beginning it right away.

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