Spiritual warfare and peace

PEACE is more often than not thought of as freedom from conflict and war. But this does not correspond with the words and example of Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace. His entire mission was an apathy-disturbing confrontation with materialism in all its aspects--from an overritualized worship of God to the unquestioning acceptance of disease as an immovable reality. He not only overthrew the money-changers' tables in the temple but conducted open warfare against the mental and physical tyranny holding mankind in bondage. He said, ``Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.'' 1 And, challenging the world's sense of peace, he affirmed, ``I came not to send peace, but a sword.'' 2 But if Jesus' view of peace was not as the world's, neither was his view of warfare. The Apostle Paul says of the Christian warfare: ``Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.'' 3 The chief weapon used by Jesus in his warfare against materialism was not, therefore, physical but mental might--the expression of God's omnipotent goodness. When Jesus confronted a trouble with the truth of man's invulnerable spiritual relationship to God, the apparent evil was destroyed by his perfect understanding, and circumstances were made more harmonious. This is the holy warfare that demonstrates God's will being done in earth as it is in heaven. The kind of peace that Jesus bestowed on those he healed was not an existence without trials, because they presumably went on to face other challenges. Rather it was an existence imbued with the growing sense of dominion that comes only as a result of seeing the falsity of evil's claim to be substance, place, and activity, to be an actual entity that can oppose the supremacy of good. In absolute fact, man is already at peace--without conflict or the threat of disturbance--in God's spiritual, perfect creation. It's the role of the universal, healing Christ-power to reveal this absolute truth to human thought, to destroy materialism's claim that it can blind us to God's ever-present harmony, His peace. The highest sense of peace that can be humanly attained--the imperturbable serenity accompanying a growing dominion over evil--comes with and is conveyed by wielding the sword of Christ. In the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives the spiritual meaning of sword as ``the idea of Truth; justice.'' 4 The vaunted but illusory claims of evil fall before this sword. They fall before our realization, in the cause of God's justice, of the truth of His supreme goodness and of man in His image. Science and Health states: ``The five material senses testify to truth and error as united in a mind both good and evil. Their false evidence will finally yield to Truth,--to the recognition of Spirit and of the spiritual creation.'' It says further, ``The suppositional warfare between truth and error is only the mental conflict between the evidence of the spiritual senses and the testimony of the material senses, and this warfare between the Spirit and flesh will settle all questions through faith in and the understanding of divine Love.'' 5 The warfare that brings peace is thus a mental confrontation between the truth that man is the spiritually perfect image of his perfect creator, forever intact and secure in his place, his purpose, in God's kingdom, and the counterfeit fabrications of material sense. These fabrications depict man's right to a secure purpose as threatened by chance and greed, his God-given health as subject to attack and defeat by ungodlike forms of life. They depict man as being as susceptible to the arguments of evil as he is to the laws of God, good. The testimonies of material sense are ``imaginations'' and high things exalting themselves ``against the knowledge of God''--against the knowledge that His peace, His kingdom, is intact. These evils can be, must be, destroyed with the sword of Truth. Every thought must be brought into Christlike obedience. This aligns human consciousness with the error-destroying power of the Holy Ghost, and is the only way to everlasting peace, the way exemplified and taught by Jesus. 1 John 14:27. 2 Matthew 10:34.3 II Corinthians 10:3-5. 4 Science and Health, p. 595. 5 Ibid., pp. 287 and 288.

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