Subject: Why suffering?
Golden text: Matthew 5: 2, 10*
And [Jesus] opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Jeremiah 20: 1-6
Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. 2 Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the Lord. 3 The next day, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, “The Lord does not call your name Pashhur, but Terror on Every Side. 4 For thus says the Lord: Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends. They shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon. He shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall strike them down with the sword. 5 Moreover, I will give all the wealth of the city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them and seize them and carry them to Babylon. 6 And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. To Babylon you shall go, and there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely.”
21st Century Science and Health**
It would be contrary to our highest ideas of God to suppose He made unwise decisions and rules intended to bring about evil results. Would God punish helpless victims for doing what they could not avoid doing? Good is not, cannot be, the author of experimental sins.
The belief of sin, which has grown terrible in strength and influence, is an unconscious error in the beginning. Negativity is like an undeveloped thought with no motive, but afterward it controls human beings. Infatuation, self-destructive appetites, dishonesty, envy, hatred, and revenge ripen into action, only to pass from shame and despair to their final self-punishment.
We must learn how humankind governs the body, whether through faith in time, drugs, or will-power. Does humankind govern the body through a belief in the necessity of sickness and death, sin and pardon? Or, does humanity govern it from the higher understanding that the divine Mind constantly reveals life, substance, and love? Divine Mind acts on the human mind through truth, leading humankind to relinquish falsities. Our spiritual mindedness understands divine Mind as the only Mind and the healer of bad-will, disease, and lack. This process of higher spiritual understanding improves humanity and displaces error until nothing is left which deserves to perish or be punished.
Fear of punishment never made a person truly honest. Moral courage is requisite to meet the wrong behavior and proclaim the right. But how is the person, who has more animal courage than moral courage, reformed? How do we help a person who doesn’t have the true idea of good? Through human consciousness, convince the person it is a mistake to look for power and happiness through material means. Reason is the most active human faculty. Let rational thought guide the person’s feelings and awaken their dormant sense of moral obligation. By degrees, they will learn the nothingness of the pleasures of human sense and the greatness and happiness of spiritual sense. This silences the corporeal and the person will not only be saved, but is saved.
[Jesus said,] “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
21st Century Science and Health
Why do people profess to follow Christ and yet reject the essential teachings Jesus came to establish? Jesus’ persecutors made their strongest attack on his instructions of love and life; they even endeavored to hold Jesus at the mercy of matter and kill him according to the physical law of destruction.
The Pharisees claimed to know and to teach the divine will, but they only hindered the success of Jesus’ mission. Even many of his students became obstacles. If the Teacher hadn’t taken a student and taught the unseen truths of God, he would not have been crucified. The determination to hold Spirit in the grasp of matter is the persecutor of Truth and Love.
While respecting all that is good in the Church or out of it, one’s dedication to Christ is more on the ground of demonstration than of profession. In conscience, we can’t stay in a mindset we have outgrown. We are enabled to heal the sick and overcome sin by understanding more of the divine Principle of the deathless Christ.
The origin, the character, and the work of Jesus were not generally understood. Even his righteousness and purity didn’t stop the crowds from saying: He is a glutton and a friend of the impure, and Beelzebub is his supporter. The materialist is unable to evaluate properly the nature of spirituality.
Remember, when you are persecuted because of spirituality, it is enough if you are found worthy to untie the Teacher’s sandals. To suppose that oppression for righteousness’ sake belongs to the past and that Christianity today is at peace with the world because it is honored by sects and societies, is to mistake the very nature of religion. Human mindsets repeat themselves. The trials encountered by prophet, disciple, and apostle, of “whom the world was not worthy,” stalks every pioneer of truth.
There is too much animal courage in society and not enough moral courage. Christians must take up arms against limited mindsets at home and abroad. They must wrestle with selfish and incomplete views in themselves and in others, and continue this warfare until they have finished the course. If they keep the faith, they will receive the honor of rejoicing.
Christ-like experience teaches faith in the right and doubt in the wrong. We learn the value of working more diligently in times of persecution because that is when the work is really needed. The reward of self-sacrifice is great, although we may never receive it in this world.
Dr. William Barclay wrote, “Jesus insists that the Christian should remember that he has one teacher only—and that teacher is Christ; and only one Father in the faith—and that Father is God.” Those instructed in Science have reached the glorious perception that God is the only creator. The Virgin-mother conceived this idea of God and gave to her ideal the name of Jesus, that is, Joshua, or Savior.
Born of woman, Jesus appeared in the flesh. Although equipped with the divine Spirit, Jesus still felt a part of Mary’s earthly condition which accounts for his struggles in Gethsemane and on Calvary. If his origin hadn’t been a typical human birth, Jesus’ life wouldn’t have been meaningful to humans as “the way.” But as it was, his circumstance enabled him to be the mediator or way-shower between God and us.
People are taught the law Moses gave, which said: “Eye for eye,” and “Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed.” Jesus, however, did not teach such retaliation. The new executor for God presented the divine law which blesses even those who curse Love.
As the individual ideal of Truth, Christ Jesus came to help us unlearn false teachings and destructive behaviors. The purpose of Jesus’ earthly career was to point out and demonstrate the way of Truth and Life. Jesus showed the difference between the offspring of Soul and of fleshly sense, of Truth and of error.
As we triumph over erroneous views and allow Soul to hold the control, we shall detest and correct wrongdoing under all its disguises. Only in this way can we bless our enemies, though they won’t take it as a blessing. We can’t choose for ourselves but must work out our salvation in the way Jesus taught. With humility and spiritual courage, Jesus was found preaching the good news to the spiritually responsive. Arrogance and fear are unprepared to hold up the standard of Truth and God will never place it in such hands.
The great fact that God lovingly controls all—which naturally causes the self-punishment of anything that works against Life, Truth, and Love—is your standpoint from which to advance and destroy the human fear of sickness. Mentally and silently plead the case scientifically for Truth. You may adapt the reasoning to meet the peculiar or general symptoms of the case you treat but be thoroughly persuaded in your own mind concerning the truth which you think or speak, and you will be the winner.
Do not protect or cover up iniquity because it only prevents prosperity and the ultimate triumph of any cause. If you are unaware of the error to be eradicated, it will sometimes abuse you.
The heavenly law is broken by trespassing on our neighbor’s individual rights of self-government. We have no authority in divine Science and no moral right to attempt to influence the thoughts of others except to benefit them. In mental practice, you must not forget that erring human opinions, conflicting selfish motives, and ignorant attempts to do good may render you incapable of knowing or judging accurately the real need of those who you are helping. Therefore, the rule is to heal the sick when called on and save the victims of the mental assassins.
To say that there is no sickness, does not heal the sick. You have to know there is no sickness. Ignorance, subtlety, or false charity does not forever conceal error; evil will in time uncover and punish itself. A balanced system and mind, mentally sustained by Truth, goes on naturally. When sin or sickness—the reverse of harmony—seems real to fleshly sense, calmly and honestly encourage the patient with truth and spiritual understanding, which destroy disease. Expose and denounce the claims of evil and disease in all their forms, but realize no reality in them. Sinners are not reformed merely by assuring them that they cannot be sinners because there is no sin. To put down the claim of sin, you must detect it, remove the disguise, point out the deception, and thus get the victory over sin and prove its unreality.
*Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
** Text from 21st Century Science and Health, 6th edition, copyrighted by Cheryl Petersen.
 Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34
 Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27
 Heb. 11:38 (Amplified)
 Barclay, William. The Gospel of Matthew. Volume 2, Revised Edition. (Pennsylvania, Westminster Press) ISBN: 0-664-24101-8 (. 2). First published by The Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland.
 John 14:6
 Exodus 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21
 Gen. 9:6 (NRSV)