Brotherhood and Civil War

ALTHOUGH international conflict has abated substantially now that fighting in the Persian Gulf has ended, internal conflicts verging on civil war are still being fought in Yugoslavia, parts of Nigeria, Peru, and elsewhere. Unfolding events in the Soviet Union highlight the turmoil that many nations still face in their struggle for freedom. And even families can experience a kind of civil war when one faction turns against another or refuses to accept a new member of the family such as a son- or daughter-in-law. It is well known that during the Persian Gulf war, people around the world turned wholeheartedly to prayer. And after the war many felt that prayer had made a difference to the outcome. This same devotion to prayer can bring peace to our families and also to other areas of the world that are experiencing civil war. Some may argue that civil wars are too localized and often too minor to note on a global scale. But Christ Jesus told his followers to "go . . . into all the world. If we wish to obey the Master's teachings, the world and its needs will have an important place in our thoughts and prayers. In addition, the praying we do benefits our lives directly. It enables us to overcome some of the beliefs that lead to inharmony. For example, the basis of all war is the belief that man and creation are essentially material and thus finite, limited. Material logic declares that there's only so much good to go around and the competition for it is fierce. As resources, including basic necessities like food and water, become scarce in some areas, this fear of limited supplies leads to conflict. And when the fears and resentments of the antagonists reach a flash point, war may break out. In Christ Jesus' ministry a wholly different view of man is presented. Jesus knew that man is spiritual and truly inseparable from God, who is his all-loving Father. On more than one occasion Jesus brought out the point that we can rely on God for whatever we need because His purpose for us is good. And since God is infinite Love, He loves all of His offspring. So, as we pray, we can understand that God is "our Father, as Jesus called Him. His love is with all who turn to Him in prayer, and it brings inner as well as outer peace. I've often found in my own life that if I can replace anger, inner turmoil over an outer issue, fear, or hatred with a genuine spiritual love, the desire for conflict quickly dissipates. Instead of wanting to tell someone off--or worse still punch him or her in the jaw--I find solutions that are not only socially acceptable but ac tually eliminate the problem. Civil war is particularly awful because it is, in essence, a nation fighting with itself--brother against brother. But we can find an answer to this challenge in what Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has to say about the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, two brothers. She writes of the fatal outcome of their conflict in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She says succinctly, "The erroneous belief that life, substance, and intelligence can be material rupture s the life and brotherhood of man at the very outset. We can defeat this aspect of war, brother against brother, as we recognize that man is spiritual and that in reality all of us have only one Father, God. This spiritual brotherhood brings us together as one spiritual family, whether we are addressing conflict in our families, our own country, or between nations. And since God is the source of infinite good, we can trust that everyone's needs--not just a lucky few--will be met. The key here is to be willing to work together for good, to give up belief in rivalry for spiritual brotherhood. Another aspect of war, especially civil war, is the need to come to terms with an opponent. In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus mentioned several aspects of conflict. Speaking about enemies, he gave this timeless guidance: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father, which is in heaven. When we are able to recognize that we are all children of one Father, it naturally follows that we are turning to the one God. And as we understand God to be Love and the Giver of good, we see that the only real enemy is a false, material sense of man and creation. To defeat this opponent we need a deeper spiritual understanding of our--and everyonetrue being, cared for by God. Man's true, spiritual nature includes intelligence, patience, love, goodness, courage, joy, satisfaction, and holiness. And we win our individual victories by striving to express these qualities even in the midst of conflict or inharmony. It may not always be easy, but this work is the high road to peace. Each time we break through the barriers that would separate people, we come a bit closer to living the spiritual life that Christ Jesus' ministry points toward so effectively. And this growing sense of spiritual brotherhood will reach out to embrace others around the world in genuine and lasting peace. BIBLE VERSE: Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. . . .Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.John 14:23, 27

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