OVER the past year or so there have been tremendous changes in the political landscape of the world, and more may well be in store. Can individuals play a part in making sure that such changes are beneficial -- for all? Yes! Individuals can indeed have a positive impact on national and international progress and prosperity. The key is in how each one of us thinks and lives -- specifically, in the degree to which our lives express the love, integrity, and healing power that Christ Jesus taught and demonstrated. As Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, explains in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, ``The characters and lives of men determine the peace, prosperity, and life of nations.''
Following Jesus is a tall order, but the reward is substantial. Not only can we ourselves gain increased health and harmony through greater Christliness, but we can also improve the well-being of our families, our communities, our nations.
To progress in our ability to manifest real and powerful Christliness, it is important to understand the nature of man's sonship with God, which Jesus demonstrated. God is the only true substance and Life of man. In fact, man in his real nature is the very reflection of God, divine Spirit, with no material element in his being. He expresses naturally such divine qualities as purity, intelligence, and joy.
In order to bring out our true spiritual nature, so necessary to Christliness, we need to dispense with the basic presupposition that we are simply mortal, subject to greed, fear, and hatred. Paul said it well when he told the Ephesians that Jesus' teachings instructed them ``That ye put off...the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.''
Objectively speaking, Jesus lived and worked in a remote corner of the world, coming into direct contact with only a relative handful of people. But his impact on mankind has been huge and lasting. We, too, can be a positive influence in the world to the degree that we manifest Christliness and live according to our true natures as eternal citizens of God's kingdom.
Christliness also demands growth in healing power. That is, we need to demonstrate progressively God's power over the elements of evil. Whether they come to us as sickness or sin in ourselves or as some form of evil in others, we need to put off the ``old man'' from how we think and live and adopt the true concept of man -- the true nature of everyone -- as our guide. This brings us progressively to an understanding of man's unity with God. Then we will find little by little that we can heal the problems we face and help to forward mankind's progress.
Mrs. Eddy was deeply concerned with the progress of mankind, but she saw such progress in terms of spiritual advancement. She writes in a sermon, The People's Idea of God, ``Every step of progress is a step more spiritual.'' And she adds, ``The great element of reform is not born of human wisdom; it draws not its life from human organizations; rather is it the crumbling away of material elements from reason, the translation of law back to its original language, -- Mind, and the final unity between man and God.''
None of us need be passive spectators to the tremendous changes happening in this last decade of the twentieth century. We can heed the call to be active witnesses to the individual and universal transforming power of God.