IN this particular season we find ''peace on earth'' all around us. It's in carols and shop windows. Yet sadly peace itself seems far from the reality of our lives. We yearn not just for truces-as laudable as they are-but for deep, abiding peace.
Many daily pray and work to bring peace; so what more do we need to do? The man at whose birth the angels sang showed us the answer not only to hunger, poverty, and injustice, but to the hatred and fear that would keep us constantly at war. Yet to an extent this answer has been rejected or, more unfortunately, taken to apply to some future time. And so we do not see that the gift of peace is already in our grasp.
Christ Jesus said, ''The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.''n1
n1 Mark 1:15. Many have believed the gospel in so far as it means that God loves us and takes care of us-and this is of great comfort in times of need. But to find peace on earth calls for that repentance Jesus demanded and defined when he said, ''The kingdom of God is at hand.''
This repentance involves the deepest reevaluation of the very premises of reality. It is not simply a matter of promising to do or be better-to be more kind, less violent. Although these are worthwhile promises, the sad lesson we have learned in our own lives and in the history of nations, is that we don't always see the way, or want to continue, to keep those promises. That is why repentance must probe even to our convictions as to man's actual nature and the nature of the laws that constitute the fabric of creation.
''The kingdom of God is at hand.'' The government of divine Spirit is at hand. And Jesus showed the perfection of that kingdom in unmistakable ways: healing, raising the dead, helping the outcasts of society and the sinner see man's spiritual selfhood and worth. He was laying out the evidence, bearing witness to truth-the truth of God and man.
The demands he made in his teachings were not simply appeals to sinners to try to be a little better, any more than his healings were efforts to help people feel a little better. ''Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,''n2
n2 Matthew 5:48. he commanded. To do this we would have to leave behind the assumptions and actions that identify man as an aggressive animal. We would have to repent to the point of accepting and proving man's wholly spiritual nature, the nature Jesus demonstrated.
Writing of this fundamental Christian demand, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, comments, ''The nature of Christianity is peaceful and blessed, but in order to enter into the kingdom, the anchor of hope must be cast beyond the veil of matter into the Shekinah into which Jesus has passed before us; and this advance beyond matter must come through the joys and triumphs of the righteous as well as through their sorrows and afflictions.''n3
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,mpp. 40-41. What impels this advance is divine Love's saving power, the Messiah or Christ.As we yield to it, it reveals in us our true nature and enables us to see and respond to the government of God, Love, at hand. This government, lived and shared, brings peace on earth. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.... Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.... If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all me.... Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:2, 10, 18, 21 .