HAVE you ever felt that if only your neighbors would move away and you could have some really nice people in their place, life would be much happier and more peaceful? Where neighbors live very close to each other, loss of territory, rights, or amenities may be feared, and difficulties may brew up. But such problems, though they may seem insoluble, can be overcome and the situation healed. At one time relations between my neighbors and my family were so bad that I was convinced that the neighbors had damaged my car during the night. As I tried to drive the car away the next morning and it came to a clanking halt, I saw a member of the family next door laughing. But I did not react as I might have before becoming a Christian Scientist. Throughout the ups and downs of our relationship, in the ten years since then, I have worked hard, and with increasing success, to act toward my neighbors as Christ Jesus did toward all the people who closely thronged him. These crowds must have contained some people who were far from honest or kind, yet Jesus was good to them and healed those who were receptive.
How? In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says: ``Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick.''1 Wasn't Jesus viewing others as God has actually created man--in His own image, in the likeness of divine Love? Certainly he wasn't overlooking sin and disease. But he realized that the true selfhood of everyone, transcending what our eyes and ears may report, is God's blessed likeness. Holding this concept of our neighbor to the best of our ability--striving to look beyond appearances, and through our innate spiritual sense to realize something of the true nature of another--does have results. Recently the man who had laughed about my car came rushing up to our joint fence and joyfully pointed out that my black currant bush was loaded with fruit for the first time. He gave me helpful hints about my plum tree. It now seems easy to recognize this man as, in truth, God's image.
Sometimes there may be conflicting needs, and what would benefit one person would harm the interests of another. But God is not limited. He does not give good to one of His offspring in such a way that another is robbed. Mrs. Eddy says, ``In the scientific relation of God to man, we find that whatever blesses one blesses all, as Jesus showed with the loaves and the fishes,--Spirit, not matter, being the source of supply.''2
A few years ago my neighbor (on the other side) planted a tree very close to my fence. As it grew bigger, its branches began to touch my house. I pointed this out to her, adding that a tree expert had advised against that kind of situation. My neighbor was not at all pleased about this, and a cold feeling developed between us. I tried hard to see her as God's offspring and remembered that in the divine order what ``blesses one blesses all.''
After a while I felt genuinely warm and friendly toward her. I prayed for an opportunity to benefit her in some way. Soon I felt it was appropriate to give her a gift. She was very pleased with it and with the feeling that had inspired it. She later shared with me three gardening books, and the tree has been well cut back.
These may seem small events, but the emotion that I was tempted to feel toward my neighbors was close to outright hatred, and it has been replaced by a peaceful and confident affection.
What needs to be, and can be, felt between neighbors can certainly apply in every human circumstance, including relations between nations. Zechariah said, ``Let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour.''3 St. John urged, ``Beloved, let us love one another.''4
We should never underestimate the healing influence of obedience to these ad monitions--individually and universally.
1Science and Health, pp. 476-477. 2Ibid., p. 206. 3Zechariah 8:17. 4I John 4:7. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. Romans 14:19