IT was a hot August evening. The local news had been filled with reports of a criminal who had attacked several people in our area. It was too hot outside to close and lock all the windows, so I watched television with one eye on the window and one ear open for suspicious noises. My imagination was livelier than the television show I was watching. I felt the need to get out my Bible and some of the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science. I could either sit around with the television on, feeling frightened and defenseless, or I could be a responsible Christian Scientist and help through prayer to restrain crime. I don't know much about law enforcement. I don't patrol the neighborhood; I haven't studied martial arts. But I have learned something from the study of Christian Science about what crime consists of and what I can do to stop it.
Christian Science is in full accord with the Bible, where we learn that God is good, that He is all-powerful, infinite, and the Maker of all that truly exists. The Bible represents God as saying, ``I am the Lord, and there is none else.'' 1 Mrs. Eddy writes, referring to God as Mind, ``All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all.'' 2
You may feel that this sounds just fine, but that it doesn't tell us who this criminal is, and why God doesn't make him go away. It's because I wanted answers to these questions that I looked to the Bible and the teachings of Christian Science. I learned that the real criminal is evil itself, in all its forms. Paul referred to the material mentality that is the essence of evil as ``the carnal mind,'' which he said is ``enmity against God.'' 3 Evil is not, in the truest sense, a person, or even an entity, because God made everything that's real and all that He made is good. And the carnal mind has no genuine power, since all power belongs to God. It may certainly seem powerful, boasting to be destructive, dangerous. That's why it's vital that we understand God's su- premacy.
Mrs. Eddy states, ``Evil was, and is, the illusion of breaking the First Commandment, `Thou shalt have no other gods before me:' it is either idolizing something and somebody, or hating them . . . .'' She continues, ``That man can break the forever-law of infinite Love, was, and is, the serpent's biggest lie!'' 4 and she says elsewhere, ``Mankind must learn that evil is not power.'' 5
We all have work to do to demonstrate that evil is not power. The people we read about in the Bible ran into trouble whenever they stopped worshiping the one God or trusting in God's power to protect them; whenever they started giving their allegiance, respect, even awe, to someone or something else: a golden calf, a beautiful woman, kings, false prophets, the accumulation of wealth.
In my own experience I've found that when I attribute power to things like weather, exercise, lotions, diets, people who treat me unkindly, I not only end up feeling bad; I feel alienated from God. But when I recognize most clearly that God, Spirit, is the only power, this understanding brings healings of physical suffering as well as of mental anguish.
Christ Jesus said that before the eradication of all evil there would be alarming reports: wars, famines, earthquakes, injustice, betrayal. But he said not to be dismayed, that ``these things must come to pass.'' 6 Where can we find refuge in the midst of evil, and how can we help others? The safest and holiest place I know is the safety of a clear consciousness that ``there is none else'' besides God. When I humbly trust that fact, in spite of all the alarming reports to the contrary, I really feel I'm standing on holy ground. And this faithfully held understanding can be a powerful influence in keeping crime in check.
It takes a lot of diligence and sincere prayer to get to that holy ground and stay there. I haven't purged the streets of my city of violence. But I know prayer has an effect, and I'm watching and praying to be more obedient to the First Commandment, trying to remember that evil is not power, trying to love and trust and do good. I really believe that this is what Jesus expected us to do, and that it's an important part of my responsibility to restrain crime in my neighborhood.
1 Isaiah 45:6. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 468. 3 See Romans 8:7. 4 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 123. 5 Science and Health, p. 102. 6 Matthew 24:6. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Lord is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.