IN the United States where I live, we have shared the excitement of the changes in Eastern Europe. The way people claimed freedom was undeniable and inspiring. But I have also heard people commenting that they hope the citizens of Eastern Europe don't copy the lifestyle of the ``free world.'' What they are referring to is the fact that we sometimes see another oppression in our lives: the glitz and drive of consumerism, a preoccupation with the body, hopes confined to pleasures and possessions. Such materialism strikes us as a poor reward for the heroism we have just witnessed.
Freedom, we feel intuitively, is a spiritual quality. When we think of freedom we think of the infinite and eternal -- unbound, unlimited. These are qualities that are derived from God, from Spirit. And seeing Spirit as God, as the Bible teaches, we recognize the allness and omnipotence of Spirit. In fact, in admitting the allness of Spirit, God, we also admit the nothingness of Spirit's opposite -- matter.
The logic of this reasoning is simple. But in actually hearing what it implies, we may find some of our most familiar views or opinions turned upside down. Remembering that Spirit is God, we may need to reevaluate our views of our lives. Views that come from self-help books, television, or even family traditions don't have the substance and permanence of what we learn from the Bible -- from the Sermon on the Mount1 and the Ten Commandments.2
In the light of this new reasoning we may suddenly wonder why spiritual healing is sometimes labeled impossible or miraculous instead of natural. Or why we think of ourselves as confused or afraid instead of as having God-given dominion and freedom.
The more we love Spirit, God, and see ourselves as actually being what the Bible explains man to be -- God's image and likeness -- the more we understand ourselves to be spiritual, like Spirit. This frees us to question matter's claims to give satisfaction, pleasure, security.
Rejecting materialism doesn't leave a void, however. Instead of cutting something away from our lives, rejecting mortality is more like waking up from a dream to find ourselves as we actually are. And we have in the Bible the lives of people like Moses, Ruth, Elisha -- and, of course the best example of all, Christ Jesus -- to show us what we are. These people lived lives that were full of joy, intelligence, courage, beauty.
They were lives based on the First Commandment. ``Thou shalt have no other gods before me'' is a command that is restated in many ways throughout the Bible. And it is equally important in Christian Science. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, says of the First Commandment: ``This me is Spirit. Therefore the command means this: Thou shalt have no intelligence, no life, no substance, no truth, no love, but that which is spiritual.''3
This is a radical command. But that's the point. We can all be revolutionaries -- spiritual revolutionaries. When, with pure and honest hearts, we obey Spirit, Spirit's affluence and power work with us and can't be opposed. We can stand firmly against the materialism that oppresses us. The materialism we have struggled with is proved powerless when we understand Spirit, God, and our true identity as Spirit's likeness. And the resulting light and freedom (though it often occurs quietly and goes unreported) transforms our lives dramatically.
1See Matthew, chaps. 5-7. 2See Exodus 20:3-17. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 467.