How would you react if you passed a notice that said, ''Beware of Pickpockets''? One I saw recently underlined the point even more: ''Did you know that there's a theft every two minutes every day in this town?''
I used to walk past these notices without thinking, feeling I suppose that it was something that couldn't happen to me. Then one day as I was going up an escalator in a busy subway station I felt a touch that was more than just the jostling of the crowd. I looked down quickly and saw that the clasp of my handbag was undone. As I refastened it I saw a hand withdraw and a youth brush past me and go up the escalator.
My first thought was a simple one: ''Oh no, you don't.'' Then some of the implications began to surface. It wasn't just the money that was involved. I wasn't carrying much anyway. It was the disorder and disruption that had threatened. If my purse had been taken, I couldn't have left the station without a ticket, done the business I had gone to town to do, or gotten back home again without a great deal of trouble and delay.
I began to think about law and order more seriously. After all, nearly every human problem, including disease, could be classified as disorder of some kind. I asked myself what law and order really stand for. Do they just represent some people telling other people what to do? Or is there something more fundamental at stake?
It's said that order is heaven's first law. It can be truly said, then, that order is more than a desirable human condition. It's a divine quality, expressing the very nature of Deity. Therefore it's essential for us to be more orderly, more law-abiding in our thoughts and actions, so that we can help establish greater harmony for everyone and bring more of heaven to earth.
It's vital that we abide by divine law. Christ Jesus didn't tell us to beware of pickpockets. But he did tell us to beware of thieving thoughts. His words were ''Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.'' n1
n1 Luke 12:15
What, then, does a man's life consist of? The thoughts he thinks and the qualities he expresses. And to the degree that these conform to the purity and intelligence of God's being, we find genuine order and harmony. Actually, it's our true, God-created nature to express order. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''If God is the Principle of man (and He is), man is the idea of God; and this idea cannot fail to express the exact nature of its Principle, - any more than goodness, to present the quality of good. Human hypotheses are always human vagaries, formulated views antagonistic to the divine order and the nature of Deity.'' n2
n2 Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 78-79.
But what about the boy on the escalator? How does he fit into this sense of divine order where everyone has his own place and is protected and provided for by divine Principle; where there are no favorites and no friction, and nobody is ever left outside?
Perhaps he was thinking of himself as a deprived mortal, left to his own devices to take from someone else what he felt he didn't have himself. But the spiritual fact remains for all to demonstrate that man is God's offspring, inseparable from His law of harmony and from the divine qualities that make each individual useful and valuable and complete.
The concept of man as the law-abiding idea of Principle is potent, compelling , and practical. It enables us to identify crime, or any aspect of disorder, as an impersonal evil, having no place in the divine order. And this enables us to help receptive individuals find freedom from the impositions of sin.
I wonder how long it would have taken me to get around to thinking this through if that little incident hadn't happened! DAILY BIBLE VERSE The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. Psalms 19:7,8