Peace, Not Revenge

IF someone wrongs us, it's hard not to want revenge. But through studying Christian Science, I've learned that acting this way doesn't bring a real solution any closer. The only person I'm hurting by feeling angry is myself.

But there is a way to remove the hurt as well as the injustice. It's the way that Christ Jesus taught, and it is given in the Bible as part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Matthew's Gospel records the Master's statement this way: ``Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God'' (5:9). To make peace in the face of frustration or anger isn't easy--but it isn't impossible if we are willing to pray and to let God lead us as He led Christ Jesus.

One of the first things we need to do is to get to know God better. God is infinite Love, ever present, always willing to heal. And God never sends evil. In the Old Testament, the book of Deuteronomy, for example, assures us of God's goodness, saying, ``He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he'' (32:4).

A God of truth and of justice! Isn't this really what we want to see prevail when we think some wrong has been done? Truth and justice are components of peace.

To gain peace, however, we need to be the peacemakers, as Christ Jesus pointed out. Only then can we know ourselves as the children of God. Instead of indulging in revenge or insisting that ``the other side'' make the first move, we need to bring peace to bear actively on our quest for justice.

We succeed as we accept God as Truth and affirm our actual spiritual relationship with Him. We appear to be varied material entities: short, tall, thin, fat, rich, poor, and so forth. But God doesn't see us that way at all. He knows each of us as His perfect child, or idea, not made materially but spiritually.

We are individual expressions of God's own nature--offspring whose nature includes joy, love, peace, and other Godlike qualities. Anger or a desire for revenge is no part of our spiritual being. We overcome these feelings as we refuse to indulge such unspiritual elements and turn steadfastly to God for inspiration and freedom.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes of both Truth and justice in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She says in one place: ``Truth should, and does, drive error out of all selfhood. Truth is a two-edged sword, guarding and guiding.... Radiant with mercy and justice, the sword of Truth gleams afar and indicates the infinite distance between Truth and error, between the material and spiritual,--the unreal and the real'' (p. 538).

Prayer shows us the ``infinite distance'' between being an unforgiving mortal, filled with self-justification, and being a peacemaker, really striving to bring peace into our own and others' lives.

I know this because there was a period when I agonized over an injustice in a family situation. Humanly, I was helpless to do anything about it. Yet as I prayed I began to see that the individual who I felt had perpetrated this injustice simply did not see the situation my way at all. This change in perspective, which came about only after weeks of prayer, totally freed me from anger. I really did feel at peace. Not long after that, the situation that so concerned me was satisfactorily resolved.

Injustice can be reversed through understanding that the true nature of man is spiritual, not material. In my own case, the prayerful affirmation of God's goodness, justice, and mercy actually caused a change in the circumstances. But even if no outward change occurs, we can continue to pray until we do feel the reality of God's presence in our lives in tangible ways.

As we are able to discipline our- selves to look for the spiritual nature in each individual--including ourselves--we gradually gain the peace and dominion that Jesus' promised we would have. When we are keeping our thoughts in this way, we will be able to give up the desire for revenge and to know the presence of divine justice, guiding us to peace with ourselves and with others.

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