Good government – what does it take?
A Christian Science perspective on daily life.
The ongoing dialogue about national elections in the US might not automatically get us thinking back to Jesus' time. But what if it did? Back then, of course, no one was caught up in a presidential race. But there was still a yearning for a good leader. In fact, one group – the Jews – was even expecting one. Regarding this ruler to come, a prophecy said that the government would "be upon his shoulder" (see Isa. 9:6). That a reign of justice and goodness would be established.
Only, there was a problem. Because when Jesus – the promised savior – arrived, he wasn't the king the people expected. Jesus said things like, "I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:30). And instead of striving to advance himself, he spent time with those thought of as pariahs and outcasts.
So let's say we could go back 2,000 years. Would we be among those who felt disappointed by what Jesus offered? Or would we have recognized the Christ – the power and love of God – that he expressed? Might we even have seen that Jesus' contribution was, in fact, the best and highest model for government? And not just for one group of people, but for everyone.
As the election season continues, and with news of ongoing crises worldwide – corruption, political rifts, and chaos – there's a yearning for leaders who can be just that: leaders. There's a desire for leadership characterized by humility – and perhaps most of all, unselfishness.
Unfortunately, this kind of yearning may perpetuate the myth that good government depends on a particular person. The "right" person. And yet, isn't that what Jesus' unparalleled example of good government disproved? Throughout his life, Jesus relied completely on God, and this reliance enabled him to show the present operation of God's loving government – a loving government that still heals and saves today. We recognize this government by starting with God, not by lamenting what's wrong or waiting for our leader of choice. This clarity of vision had a powerful effect on the situations Jesus encountered, and it will help us, too.
Consider ethical lapses and corruption. While many dismissed Zacchaeus, a tax collector, as a sinner, Jesus saw him not as a dishonest man, but as a child of divine Truth. This perception was so powerful that Zacchaeus stopped his unethical practices and offered restitution to those he'd cheated.
Or what about economic crises? Again and again Jesus turned his followers to God, the One who gives us our daily bread. Who "clothe[s] the grass of the field." And Jesus gave us a way to find the substance that never fails when he said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33).
Through all this, it seems that Jesus was saying that good government – good leadership – is present to the degree that we bear witness to God's presence. To His kingdom on earth. And we can include our leaders in this vision, choosing to see the Christliness that brings out the best man or woman in each of us.
In her "Daily Prayer," Mary Baker Eddy, the Monitor's founder, offered this radical prayer for good government: " 'Thy kingdom come;' " she wrote. "Let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!" ("Church Manual," p. 41).
Whether we're thinking about national elections, or the way a local organization is run, this prayer – based on Jesus' model – will open the way to that truly good government for which we all yearn. Start with God's kingdom. Feel it in your heart. Then watch as that kingdom embraces all humanity. Yes, our leaders, too.