TEARS streamed down the young woman's face as she talked of her student friends in China. She did not know whether they were dead or alive, she told me. She was one of dozens of Chinese students in one city, getting signatures for a petition regarding recent actions by the Chinese government. Nobody who has seen the wrenching pictures of Beijing on television can remain unmoved by what is happening there. To the woman I spoke with, I could offer little comfort except my own tears, a willing signature on her petition, and a promise of support in any way I could as a citizen. And silently, I made a vow to pray each day for the cause of freedom in China and for the safety of those involved.
Like many people, I turn to the Bible for comfort and wisdom when faced with tragedy. And I never fail to find comfort there and the resolve to go forward in the fight for good in my own life and in the world. The Bible reassures us, again and again, that liberty and freedom are man's God-given right and that oppression and tyranny have no future.
One of the most beautiful promises of this in the Bible is Psalm 37. The entire psalm is filled with a wonderful sense of the impermanence of evil and of the inevitable victory of the power of God, good, in the world. Reading this psalm, one feels that the Psalmist is somehow seeing into the very reality of things and that this reality must inevitably come to light.
This is not to say the Psalmist is naive about evil in the world. He is wise and has seen the inhumanity of man. He says, ``I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.'' But he also says: ``Yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.''
This insight is perennial and presages Christ Jesus' own promise ``Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.''1 According to the humble Nazarene, the victory of the meek is inevitable. It is inevitable because of the very nature of spiritual reality as revealed by his example. Jesus came to show us man's spiritual nature and to reveal our complete liberty as the children of God under His government.
As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, puts it in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Discerning the rights of man, we cannot fail to foresee the doom of all oppression. Slavery is not the legitimate state of man. God made man free. Paul said, `I was free born.' All men should be free. `Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.'''2
Now, of course, it's true that this spiritual reality and its promise can often seem distant. It can seem hard to trust in the inevitability of freedom and liberty when one looks at history and sees the meek and peaceful repeatedly oppressed and slaughtered by the powerful and brutal. Look at Jesus' own experience. The cruel rulers thought that by crucifying Jesus they could wipe out the spiritual liberty that he represented.
And yet Jesus' divinely derived meekness overcame the malice and hatred directed against him. He resurrected himself through the understanding that God alone was his Life and that man is not a mortal who can be killed or enslaved, but is the very image of Spirit, the son of God. Jesus' meekness was a power. It was based in the absolute recognition that God, good, alone is real and that evil is not real but a lie, as he said.
As Mrs. Eddy writes: ``Mankind must learn that evil is not power. Its so-called despotism is but a phase of nothingness.''3 To me, the ultimate nothingness and insubstantiality of evil shine through Psalm 37. No matter how real and powerful evil seems to be, its claim to life and power is ephemeral. Having no basis in spiritual reality, it must inevitably pass away as divine goodness asserts itself.
The spirit of this great truth is sweeping the world, and nothing can stop it. This spirit in mankind will not be denied. Every day we see encouraging evidence that it is inspiring men and women of all races and nations to assert their liberty and be free. This desire for freedom may not always be put in religious terms, but whether people know it or not, it has its basis in God. Human rights are really divine rights.
God made man free. Even more, Christian Science explains, He made man in His image, in His likeness, and there is no greater freedom than to reflect and express the very Mind and Life and Soul of the universe. Brutal tyranny and despotism may seem to crush out liberation movements for a while, but they cannot crush out the spiritual facts of being. They cannot quench the spirit of God in the hearts of men, women, and children.
Our prayers for those seeking freedom around the world can be based in the spiritual understanding of man's God-given rights as a child of God. They can be based in the understanding that evil is not power, but that God, good, is the only power. Understanding this, we have the absolute assurance that tyranny of any sort has no future. The spirit of God-given liberty and freedom will rise, until the meek do inherit the earth. This is the law of God.
1Matthew 5:5. 2Science and Health, p. 227. 3Ibid., p. 102.
BIBLE VERSE: Where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is liberty.
II Corinthians 3:17