Listening to and watching news broadcasts, we could certainly conclude that evil is very much a reality and that individuals are the perpetrators of evil acts. From civil unrest to barbaric behavior, we are daily presented with the certainty that evil is, indeed, a presence and power, and that it’s natural to fear those who commit these evil acts. But as a student of Christian Science, I have learned to denounce the claim of a power apart from God, Spirit, who is all-knowing Mind, infinite Love itself, and to strive to identify man as he truly is, the spiritual image and likeness of God. Because evil is unknown to an infinite God, good, it must also be unknown to His spiritual offspring, His reflection, man.
This may seem like a startling claim if we base our conclusions on the material sense of things that would have us believe that man is a mortal with his own separate mind and is capable of knowing and being both good and evil. But this view of man is false, a material misconception. To spiritual sense, which derives from God, and which each of us includes and has the reflected ability to express, the all presence of God, good – and the consequent nothingness of an evil mind in matter – is a present and demonstrable fact.
Some years ago, I was presented with the opportunity to overcome the belief of a power apart from God, divine Love, and to see more clearly that His offspring, man, is not a mortal who is capable of evil acts. Barely was I settled in my new home than my position as a student of Christian Science to pray for the amelioration of the world’s problems was blatantly challenged. When discussing a particular chaotic event, I was asked derisively, “What are you going to do, pray about it?” I was startled by this, unaware that my neighbor even knew I was a Christian Scientist. I was soon put to the test of praying for the greater appearance of good in my own home and neighborhood.
That neighbor, for no apparent reason, began to show obvious hate in ways that included libel, slander, and property destruction. For many weeks I was actually fearful of entering my own little neighborhood. But I held steadfastly, and sometimes tearfully, to the great fact that God, Love, is the only Mind and that I as God’s own image could not know anything but what God knows – that man is the expression of Love and therefore can include only the qualities of Love, such as kindness, thoughtfulness, patience, even gentleness. I refused to acknowledge as real a hateful mortal. Regardless of the material sense of things – what the eyes and ears were screaming at me – that there was a hateful neighbor, and I was a victim, and that hatred, anger, and fear were powerful and real, I clung steadfastly to the truth of creation, that God is good and the only creator and that man is His image, the image of Love.
This deepening understanding of the goodness and allness of God, and man as His expression, was my daily prayer. Because of this understanding, and holding steadfastly to the teachings of Christian Science, I was able to, in greater and greater measure during a period of years, return good for evil. And eventually all of the animosity toward me yielded to the power of Love and the present truth of man as Love’s reflection. I was actually able to comfort this neighbor in a time of his need – genuinely, with much love. And the expression of love was returned.
His actions changed from hostility to kindness. Coincidentally, during that trying time, my thoughts and actions as a student of Christian Science had been, I learned later, both noted and admired by my neighbors. That man is the image of Love and expresses good, not evil, had – through patient prayer – been proved. And this was a blessing for the whole neighborhood.
In the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, wrote: “God is not the creator of an evil mind. Indeed, evil is not Mind. We must learn that evil is the awful deception and unreality of existence” (p. 207). And she defined man, in part, as “that which has not a single quality underived from Deity;....” She continued: “The real man cannot depart from holiness, nor can God, by whom man is evolved, engender the capacity or freedom to sin. A mortal sinner is not God’s man” (pp. 475-476). In other words, a mortal sinner is not the real selfhood of any of us.
Whether a neighborhood or world event, seemingly small or overpoweringly big, the reality of God, good, and man in His image, expressing only good, can be demonstrated. And this blesses the world.