Peace begins within
THE 1985 Geneva summit meeting between the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union brought greater attention to the ideal of peace. Though many hope for peace, longstanding conflicts in the world cause doubts that it is really achievable. Must you and I feel that the peace process can be forwarded only by heads of government? We can certainly take a positive stand for peace in our own lives. Peace-promoting living, backed by a true desire to have dominion over conflicts, starts within. We must be willing to see that war, whether it affects nations or neighborhoods, starts in thoughts that allow criticism, suspicion, greed, or dogmatism to govern actions.
Peace is an active quality and requires that we be active in our expression of it. Expressing the divine nature in our love for others and in an ever-deepening purity of thought, we help to dispel hatred through the reflection of divine power.
Two statements made by Christ Jesus can show us the spiritual peace process. He said, ``Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God'' 1 and also ``I came not to send peace, but a sword.'' 2 These statements don't seem at all contradictory when we realize that Jesus' teaching was meant to promote true peacemaking, which bears witness to the power of divine Love to rout negative, hostile thoughts from individual consciousness and from the world as a whole.
Paul tells us that ``the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.'' And in describing this Christian warfare he says that we bring ``into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.'' 3 Elsewhere he says to take for our defense ``the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.'' 4 Victory in our mental battles against evil helps us rise above barriers, of whatever kind, to become peacemakers in our relations with others.
We do this from the standpoint of a deep desire to eliminate every view that would emphasize the shortcomings of our neighbor. We strive rather to recognize his innate, spiritual goodness as the pure, perfect offspring of God. This is not a quick or easy task, and it certainly doesn't mean we're to overlook our own or another's faults. On the contrary. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes: ``Self-ignorance, self-will, self-righteousness, lust, covetousness, envy, revenge, are foes to grace, peace, and progress; they must be met manfully and overcome, or they will uproot all happiness. Be of good cheer; the warfare with one's self is grand; it gives one plenty of employment, and the divine Principle worketh with you,-- and obedience crowns persistent effort with everlasting victory.'' 5 Such mental striving is effective prayer; it helps bring to light the allness and goodness and peace of God, expressed by His creation.
Knowing that in truth God is everywhere, despite appearances to the contrary, gives us courage to be peacemakers day by day. Our actions are more impelled by God than directed by hate. The power of God, reflected in our thoughts and actions, heals, and so animosity is defused.
As we all join in such mental warfare, we spread peace. A snowball picks up more snow as it is rolls along, and increases in size and weight. So peace-full thoughts, derived from a realization of God's absolute supremacy and of man's actual, Godlike selfhood, gather momentum and power in replacing hostility with brotherhood.
We all can be of practical help. At the birth of Christ Jesus, the angels sang a message of peace on earth and good will toward men.6 As we each obediently strive to follow the example of the Prince of Peace, we'll help to fulfill the angels' message of hope.
1 Matthew 5:9. 2 Matthew 10:34. 3 II Corinthians 10:4, 5. 4 Ephesians 6:17. 5 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 118. 6 See Luke 2:13, 14. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there by any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23,24