Armageddon and the Comforter

REFERENCES to Armageddon as global destruction have, in our time, become soberingly frequent. They turn up not only in television dramas depicting the end of the world but also on editorial pages, in scientific studies, book reviews, and political dialogues. Apocalyptic expectations may appear justified by a globe bristling with nuclear missiles. But the belief that evil reigns and doomsday is approaching is a recurrent element of human thought. In fact, we could even say that the suspicion and fatalism connected with the belief in evil's dominion actually speed development of fearsome weapons. So it's not only reassuring to replace apocalyptic fears with the conviction of God's perfect, entirely good control. It's a responsible act of peacekeeping. Certainly industrial catastrophes, terrorism, and the nuclear threat do not inspire optimism. And there's no question that we all have a decisive battle to fight within our individual consciousness. The demand to fight is, in fact, already upon us. We need to put off fleshly, materialistic thinking and cultivate the pure spirituality that leads to salvation. Yet Christ Jesus shows us the way. Jesus brought a more authentic comfort to human conditions than optimism drawn from ordinary observations. He walked untouched through a mob bent on his destruction, and he walked over turbulent seas. He showed that chaos, violence, and degeneration, though they can seem terribly real, do not have the destructive power they claim. He revealed God to be the ``one God'' proclaimed by Scripture--a single power of good, not part of a ceaseless cosmic turmoil involving forces of darkness. Jesus was, as the Bible says, born of the Holy Ghost.1 He grew in grace, and ultimately rose after the crucifixion to manifest fully his sonship with God. In doing so he showed us that man's destiny is not dust and oblivion--whether brought about by cataclysm or by the gradual decay of matter we accept as ordinary. Man's destiny is clear because his sonship with God is an eternal, spiritual fact. So we can expect spiritual graces native to our identity as God's likeness to develop, and the impositions of evil to diminish. There is a battle to be fought, however, within our consciousness. Jesus promised that the Holy Ghost would abide forever with us. This Comforter, or ``Spirit of truth,'' though unseen by the worldly wise, is known to followers of Christ, ``for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.'' 2 The Comforter has authority far beyond well-intentioned human hopes that falter before evil's assaults. It is the presence of divine Spirit in human consciousness, the voice of good. Beside its magnitude, the claims of evil, though they may sorely try us, are found to be hollow. Evil never was the ominous power it sometimes seems to be. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, gives a spiritual interpretation of ``Holy Ghost'' in the Christian Science textbook. Part of the definition reads, ``the development of eternal Life, Truth, and Love.'' 3 Over the years many different contributors to this column have borne witness to the development of the attributes of Life, Truth, and Love in present human life: to the restoration of disintegrating careers, marriages, and bodies, to the quickening of mutual understanding between individuals of different races and nations, to the deepening of affection. Heeding the Comforter, ``the Spirit of truth,'' we too can find the upheavals of our personal lives, which can seem to herald ``the end of the world,'' becoming less compelling than the development of good --the only development with divine authority. As we do, we find that each individual effort helps take the terror out of threats of Armageddon on a global scale. Although there was much speculation about the end of the existing world order in Jesus' own time and about the signs that would precede its coming, the Master said, ``The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.'' 4 Or, as the Revised Standard Version of the Bible has it, ``for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.'' The kingdom of heaven is the rule of God, good, which can never be destroyed, and of which the Comforter is here to remind us. 1 See Matthew 1:18-20. 2 John 14:17. 3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 588. 4 Luke 17:20, 21.

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