OFTEN many suffer as a result of the sins of a few -- or even the tyranny of one individual. From the cruelty of a dictatorship to rampant crime in a community to the dishonesty and greed that would undermine an economy, we find that innocent people are often victimized. The injustice is obvious. But what can we do about it? Sometimes the choices are painful, as when nations reluctantly take up arms in order to stop oppression. But there's a choice we can make to help lessen the occurrence of such tragedies. It's the choice to learn more of God as a sure defense and, even more important, to conform our own lives increasingly to divine law.
To talk about relying on God may seem unrealistic when criminal actions defy a community's -- or even a world's -- efforts to hold the evil in check. Yet because God is omnipotent, as the Bible indicates, our dependence on divine power has a beneficial effect. Why, then, if so many were praying to God for a peaceful resolution of the Persian Gulf crisis, did we find ourselves at war? Why didn't these prayers prevent this conflict? Such questions aren't easy. But maybe an appropriate response relates to the need for people throughout the world to understand God better, to realize that the might of God is omnipresent and well able to counteract destructive, materialistic influences. Referring to God, the Psalmist stated clearly, ``He ruleth by his power for ever.''
God never changes. He remains throughout eternity the one infinitely good, all-powerful creator. He remains almighty divine Spirit, omnipresent Love. The man He created -- the true selfhood of each one of us -- is His spiritual image, expressing the perfection of the divine nature. In absolute spiritual reality, then, none of God's offspring can be victims or victimizers.
But proving this may not be easy, especially when there appear to be relentless forces working against a just resolution of conflict. That's why it's important that humanity's prayers increasingly embrace an understanding that God is supreme, despite appearances to the contrary, and that His just government of man is, ultimately, the only genuine reality or possibility. As the Lord's Prayer, given us by Christ Jesus, says of God, ``Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.''
One of the Beatitudes, also found in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, tells us, ``Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.'' In order for us to discern more clearly in prayer the divine presence and might that effectively counteract injustice, we need to cultivate greater purity in ourselves. A tendency to accept sensualism or anger, for example, or any aspect of materialistic thinking, as essentially harmless withholds from mankind the spiritual strength needed to nullify destructive influences.
Clearly, we all have work to do in the direction of fuller obedience to divine law. But as we're faithful to this work, our every effort to behave morally, in line with fundamental Biblical precepts, will be meaningful. It will be meaningful for us individually and for mankind as a whole. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, observes in her Miscellaneous Writings: ``From lack of moral strength empires fall. Right alone is irresistible, permanent, eternal.''
A deeper, more consistent, expression of purity will bring to mankind's prayers the spiritual power that stops oppression and brings needed reform. The supremacy of divine law is our defense. Prayer on that basis, and lives that increasingly conform to the moral law, will certainly make this a safer world.