It has been more than a year since Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee rode the new cross-border bus to a summit in Pakistan. The political map has changed dramatically in the interim, skirmishes have increased in the disputed Kashmir region, and nuclear bombs are still an ominous part of the geopolitical equation. Hope has strayed from the potential for good signified by that promising bus ride.
But not one of these factors stands in the way of a power that's greater than even the most intractable differences: God's love. God loves both nations and all their citizens. God's love knows no boundaries or barriers. No competing interests. No distinct religious denominations. Do these facts make a difference? Is God's love relevant to the threat of nuclear aggression? Is it able to subdue longstanding tensions and sufficient to mitigate the political ideology that seems to be ratcheting up on both sides of the border?
Rather than being the problems in and of themselves, such factors are symptoms of deeper challenges - evidence that people aren't seeing the spiritual brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity. A better question may be, "Is God's love equal to eradicating the root of hate and fear?"
Hatred and fear are part of what the Bible calls "the carnal mind." It's referred to by the Apostle Paul as being "enmity against God" (Rom. 8:7) - and by logical extension, then, as warring against God's children. This mentality includes whatever is the opposite of God's nature - the opposite of harmony, peace, universal love. But all men and women actually reflect the nature of God. That's how we're made. There isn't a single Indian or Pakistani who doesn't belong to the family of God, in which all members consciously love one another.
It would be a potent force for good if we each were to identify the true enemy of Hindus, Muslims, and Christians as being any thought, anywhere, that is not Godlike.
The truth about this great divider, the carnal mind, is that it is made powerless to influence individuals or nations through the understanding that God's power enforces an actual law of good. This law of good is "enmity" against "the carnal mind." People worldwide can support prospects for peace in South Asia by holding in thought what this law declares: one universal, spiritual family, undivided under God.
God is divine Truth, Life, and Love. Elements opposed to the nature of God, such as hatred, jealousy, religious rivalry, exclusive national pride, conspire against peace and mutual respect. Whether in relations between nations or in interactions between neighbors, these elements of thought can't ultimately stand up to prayer that affirms the presence of God everywhere.
The place to begin to prove this is in one's own life. As we trust the healing power of God in individual situations, we'll see it can apply to communal challenges, too. From "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy, comes the statement that "Truth, Life, and Love," which are all names for God, "are a law of annihilation to everything unlike themselves, because they declare nothing except God" (pg. 243).
I have found this to be true when relationships have soured. Although personal problems seem to pale in significance compared to issues at stake in South Asia, the healing of friction with other people in my life has seemed almost miraculous at times. And each such healing forges another link in the chain of worldwide healing.
One example: Relations had been strained for some time with my brother. We had previously been close. One day the Bible words "Be still, and know that I am God" came to thought (Ps. 46:10). I paused to gain some small grasp of the meaning of these words. And suddenly I saw that God did indeed love us both. Neither of us could be alienated from infinite Love, or from each other.
That evening my brother called unexpectedly and invited me to join him for a meal and a movie. And when we met, it was just like old times. The power of God's love was enough to set us both on a course out of mutually-deflating disaffection.
God's love can do that for Pakistan and India, too.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society