IT was late evening when I came to the four-way stop. As I started to cross the intersection, the driver of the car on the right made a right turn directly in front of me without having stopped first. There was no threat of an accident, but my first inclination was to teach that driver a lesson. I flashed my bright lights and honked, hoping to show my anger. As I thought about the incident later, I realized that others in my situation might have had the same response; but it certainly was not a Christian response. My actions had been motivated by anger and revenge, cloaked in the altruistic purpose of education--this will teach you not to do that again! But as Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Revenge is inadmissible.''1
Her statement caused me to think further. Why is revenge not an acceptable response? Isn't it harmless, or at least justifiable, in a situation like driving?
The concept of revenge accepts the premise that wrong has been done. Someone has been victimized. An error needs to be paid for, harshly. And the one who can best exact the retribution is the person wronged.
A Christian response would cultivate the quality of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not condone wrongdoing, but it softens our heart, releasing us from being an accuser.
But true forgiveness goes beyond even compassion. The deepest kind of forgiveness includes a glimpse of the truth of God's creation--a glimpse of the spiritual reality that transcends what our physical senses take in. In that divine creation no one is at fault and no one is victimized, because God's offspring are forever inseparable from Him, governed wisely by Him, cared for by Him. They express His nature eternally, in all ways.
Christian Science teaches that God is the very Principle of the universe, as we can infer from the Bible. This Principle is perfect cause, producing harmonious effects. It guides with precision, governs all according to invariable divine law. Our true selfhood, made in God's likeness, never makes mistakes, never cheats, never cuts off someone else from good, never breaks the law, never threatens the safety of others. Nor is our safety ever threatened.
These truths may at first seem abstract and irrelevant to something as mundane as driving, but as we realize and cherish the fact that divine Principle governs all, we will see more evidence of faultless driving. This understanding corrects the mistaken belief that man is a frail, unprotected mortal. It helps to protect from accident, because it lessens belief in ``the law'' of chance in the only place that law could operate--our thinking. It makes us safe, conscientious, forgiving drivers. And, of course, the application of spiritual truth extends to infinitely more than driving; it can benefit every aspect of experience, including the government of nations.
Christ Jesus didn't look for fault as a cause. When he healed the man born blind, he didn't assign fault to the man or to his parents.2 When he forgave the adulterous woman, he didn't seek to discover who was at fault. Faultfinding looks for mistaken, mortal concepts. Faultless thinking rests its case on divine Principle and finds healing. This doesn't mean we condone sin or ignore it but that we turn directly to the source of healing. Now I drive with the spiritual conviction that all is truly under the government of divine Principle. Instead of finding fault with others' driving habits, I look for evidence of God's protection and order. Driving is more enjoyable--and safer--as I understand the reason for true forgiveness.
1Science and Health, p. 22. 2See John 9:1-7. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14