Bounds of habitation
A Christian Science perspective: A response to territorial battles.
All peoples need a secure home. But the territorial tensions around the globe can sometimes make one wonder if genuine solutions are possible. The factors in such disputes often appear complicated or intransigent. But these disputes, like all entanglements, begin to give way to harmony as human reasoning shifts its basis from convictions of materiality to the spiritual fact of one God and one creation.
Materiality is generally accepted as the inescapable context of life. From this conviction arises the belief that territorial conflicts are equally inescapable. But the substance of matter is mental – the carnal mind, as St. Paul called it. Christian Science terms it mortal mind, the unreal opposite of immortal Spirit, or God. Christian Science Founder Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Jesus defined this opposite of God and His creation better than we can, when he said, ‘He is a liar, and the father of it’ ” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 554).
Christ Jesus’ perception of the falsity of materiality is evident in his healing. He taught that God is Spirit (see John 4:24) and demonstrated that Spirit governs man harmoniously. Jesus utterly contradicted conventional material beliefs and reversed what appeared to be solid conditions of disease and sin.
Paul knew God’s supremacy. He declared, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth,... hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;... For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:24, 26, 28).
A materialist might deny the credibility of this statement. But seen from the standpoint of one God and one creation – infinite Spirit and Spirit’s expression, man – Paul’s declaration speaks beautifully of God’s perfect control of man and illustrates the harmony that can result on the human scene as God’s control is acknowledged. This acknowledgment begins with each of us individually. It involves turning wholeheartedly and consistently to God – to Truth, which the material sense can’t cognize of themselves, but which we can know spiritually. Man’s place of habitation is Spirit. His heritage is not actually material and geographical, but spiritual, defined and maintained by divine Mind. Spirit supplies man with secure, unfluctuating good.
Spiritual identity is distinct. Man’s purpose and heritage are never usurped or trespassed upon, because Mind maintains man’s distinctness and governs him harmoniously. God’s control is never arbitrary, nor is Spirit’s supply of good uneven, because Spirit is Principle, unchanging Love. In this divine order, man doesn’t need to encroach to obtain resources or security. These are already found in Spirit. No adventurism could ever get for man more than he actually eternally has as Spirit’s expression.
The carnal mind in its blindness to Spirit and to the real status of man offers no foundation for harmony. But Spirit’s supremacy has never really been overturned. Fear, greed, selfish ambition are not elements of the real man, who represents his Father-Mother Love. They are material misconceptions, having no real intelligence or activity. As we reject the blindness of materialism and accept instead the perfection, supremacy, and allness of God, we will more clearly understand the illusiveness of discord.
Global solutions may not come instantly. “Wait patiently for divine Love to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept,” writes Mrs. Eddy. “Patience must ‘have her perfect work’ ” (Science and Health, p. 454). The proper adjustment of territorial disputes and the quelling of mankind’s restiveness and aggression are forwarded as human thought is regenerated. Individual consciousness must be governed by Truth. Then human affairs will show the harmonizing control of Love.
Reprinted from the June 17, 1980, issue of The Christian Science Monitor.