Lesson 168 is a most uplifting and inspiring lesson which teaches us that, by the grace of God, we can awaken and become liberated. It offers hope in a world of despair; it offers us joy as it shows us a way out of the trap set up by the ego. Grace, this wonderful gift of God, will help us awaken from the dream. God gives us this gift because He loves us. We may not know exactly how much He does love us; but if we knew, we would become joyous and carefree. “If you but knew the meaning of His Love, hope and despair would be impossible. For hope would be forever satisfied; despair of any kind unthinkable...” ACIM, Workbook, p.321.
The way to receive God’s gift of grace is to call upon the Holy Spirit and ask him to free us from illusions, because it is our illusions that are blocking out the love and light of God. Living in this world of chaos and conflict, we are not in our normal habitat, although consciously we may think we are. In Chapter 7 of the Text, we are told that the state of grace is the normal and natural state for us to be in. “Grace is the natural state of every Son of God. When he is not in a state of grace, he is out of his natural environment and does not function well. Everything he does becomes a strain, because he was not created for the environment that he has made...A Son of God is happy only when he knows he is with God...” ACIM, Text. p.136. If we stop to think about it, life on earth is a strain and a struggle most of the time. But we do not question this because we are not aware of any alternative. Moreover, the Course makes it clear that we will never be able to avoid the struggle of life on earth because, “....the world goes against your nature, being out of accord with God’s laws...” ACIM, Text, p.136. So it would make sense to aspire to a world where we can always be in a state of grace; where we are in our natural environment. And we need the grace of God to help us get there.
How do we access this great gift? By putting it foremost in our mind and aspiring to it above all else, which entails being willing to awaken from our illusions. “The wish to see calls down the grace of God upon your eyes, and brings the gift of light that makes sight possible. Would you behold your brother? God is glad to have you look on him. He does not will your savior be unrecognized by you....” ACIM, Text, p. 529. Our brother is our saviour because by recognising he is part of us and being forgiving towards him, we are acknowledging that the separation, the fear and the guilt of the ego are all unreal; the separation never took place and this world of separate individuals does not really exist. The fear of the wrath of God and the guilt that originates from the initial separation are, therefore, meaningless.
When we deny the separation and acknowledge our oneness with others, a miracle takes place—that moment is described as a holy instant. What a joyful instant that is. “In the holy instant, you will see the smile of Heaven shining on both you and your brother. And you will shine upon him, in glad acknowledgement of the grace that has been given you. For sin will not prevail against a union Heaven has smiled upon. Your perception was healed in the holy instant Heaven gave you....” ACIM, Text. p.406. The union referred to in this passage is what is known as the holy relationship, a relationship based on forgiveness and recognition of oneness, in which minds (not bodies) are joined, and which has God as its common goal. When this happens, the relationship becomes holy.
It is obvious from the following passage that when the mind is healed of errors and illusions by forgiveness, grace is God’s reward: “The grace of God rests gently on forgiving eyes, and everything they look on speaks of Him to the beholder. He can see no evil; nothing in the world to fear, and no one who is different from himself. And as he loves them, so he looks upon himself with love and gentleness. He would no more condemn himself for his mistakes than damn another...” ACIM, Text, p.529.
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