Christians and Muslims: the call to live in peace
A Christian Science perspective. What can anyone do to contribute toward the peace process today?
Several years ago I was working with a Muslim man to build some understanding about Islam with Christian readers of the magazine I was working for. What I quickly learned was that I had to get that understanding first. His thoughts and ideas were very different from mine, and I wondered if we would finish the work before my deadline.
I prayed for patience and understanding, but our progress was glacial. Gradually I understood that he wasn’t stalling with me. Just as I had editors to deal with at my end, clearly he needed to get approvals from his colleagues. On the morning of my deadline, with things still unresolved, I earnestly asked God for just one small light on the situation.
The answer that came was, “This is your opportunity to be part of the Middle East peace process.” With this thought came a recognition of how tiny my part was in relation to the complexity of boundaries, history, family ties, and all the other details that make up negotiations in such complex areas. It was humbling, but it was clear that small as it was, I had to do my best.
When I got to work, my new inspiration nearly dried up. The situation seemed as complex as ever. Yet I clung to the commitment to forward peace. Gradually, I felt a change. It seemed as though my colleague had sensed our magazine’s sincerity in wanting his thoughts, and that he was pushing as hard as he could at his end. Finally, within minutes of my deadline, he sent me the approved copy (see Christian Science Sentinel, May 14, 2001).
Looking back at this now – and at the current situation in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and elsewhere – I ask, “What can I do to contribute toward the peace process today? Toward stability and progress instead of fear and dread?”
And what comes to thought is the trust that developed during that time of working so intensively with this man. It’s evident that there are people who have ill will toward Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and have no desire for them to be able to work together. Yet our prayers can affirm God’s love for all His people – and that divine Love, being infinite and omnipotent, trumps all other motivations and desires. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, put it this way: “Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you. The cement of a higher humanity will unite all interests in the one divinity” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 571).
That “higher humanity” can appear and can bring together those who have been separated by war, suspicion, bloodshed, religious and ethnic hatred. Its basis is the fact that man – God’s creation – is actually spiritual, indivisible. As the spiritual offspring of divine Love, we are brothers and sisters, not strangers or rivals. And we are held safe in Love’s creation, not as enemies but as family. To whatever degree we can see this for ourselves, we are proving it for the world. And our prayers can embrace the world’s challenges with a recognition of our collective unity as the sons and daughters of God. Making the effort to think actively in those terms and to let those thoughts govern our days sends out an impetus for peace and security around the world. And if we all make a real commitment to insisting on peace, we can change that world.
As brothers (and sisters) we can mentally reach out to clasp hands in these countries – or even in our own countries – when fear and division occur. This effort will guide humanity through these dangerous threats of war and turmoil. All will be protected by divine Love, whose oneness is the source of our own unity with one another and whose example is the love of Christ Jesus.
Each of us can join hands with others on behalf of peace, one prayer at a time, one hope at a time, one love at a time. Each loving, healing thought does make a difference.