Planners and prophets

There are ''prophecies'' on the walls of buildings, in scholarly monographs, and in rock music lyrics - almost everywhere. To penetrate this barrage of predictions and sort out false prophecies from true, we may need to be something of a prophet ourselves.

Great prophets in Biblical times were distinguished as much for their insight into basic truth as for their foresight about events. For example, the prophet Elisha, surrounded by the Syrians, was safe not so much because of what he could foreseem, but because of what he could seem of the presence and power of God. What Elisha saw of God's presence actually helped determine the next turn of events. He and his servant were protected, and, in this case, the Syrians were also kept safe. n1

n1 See II Kings, Chapter 6.

Elisha's vision of reality superseded and transformed what an observer might have predicted from the evidence at hand. This incident may show, among other things, that in prophecy, the premise - the basis of our thinking, or what we consider fundamental truth - is as important as the resulting vision.

In planning for any endeavor, if we start from the premise that chance and vulnerability are natural and inevitable, we tend to find this premise fulfilling itself in our lives and communities. But when we start from the premise that there is one omnipotent God and that man and the universe are God's wholly spiritual creation - the manifestation of perfect Spirit - the result is greater safety, wisdom, freedom.

Do we have the choice of this second premise? Or must we work with what's before us? Consider what Christ Jesus did when evidence before him contradicted the fact of God's omnipotence. He healed.

He taught that God's kingdom is at hand, and he proved this premise. He showed that there is only one accurate basis for thought and action: God, Spirit.

Jesus' life grew completely from this premise. Better than anyone else, he illustrated life in total consonance with Spirit. He moved only as God moved him. He judged only as God judged. And his spiritual agreement with God allowed him to break through appearances to reality, and thereby transform lives trapped by disease, dishonesty, lust, fear.

But to discern the premise Jesus taught and build our thoughts and lives on this basis, we need more than a better intellectual grasp of contemporary trends or a vision of things to come. We first need a better grasp of the all-encompassing presence and power of divine Spirit. This ability to grasp and prove God's presence might be called ''spiritual sense.'' Spiritual sense distinguished the prophets in the past, and it allows us to differentiate falsity from truth today.

''Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God,'' n2 writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. And after referring to Jesus' question to the Pharisees and Sadducees - ''Can ye not discern the signs of the times?'' - she says: ''Both Jew and Gentile may have had acute corporeal senses, but mortals need spiritual sense.'' n3

n2 Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, p. 209.

n3 Ibid., p. 85.

Earlier on that page, using the terms ''Soul'' and ''Mind'' in reference to God, Mrs. Eddy writes, ''This Soul-sense comes to the human mind when the latter yields to the divine Mind.'' n4 That which enables us to yield to God, the one true source of intelligence, is the Christ. This divine power that Jesus embodied so completely is still at work today.

n4 Ibid.

The Christ changes the basis of thought from the belief in chance and vulnerability to the certainty of God's omnipotence. This change removes fear, and we begin to break through barriers that would block good ideas. We aren't as swayed by false prophecies.

So a journalist helps identify a potential network of untapped community resources. A college professor gets an idea for a unique intern program that will help both students and understaffed public agencies.

These are only small examples. But they illustrate what can happen when an individual makes a conscious effort to yield to divine intelligence, to be guided by spiritual sense. Our world cries out for more of this yielding and for more of the tangible proofs of God's presence it brings. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophecy. I Corinthians 14:1

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