SOMETIMES people are afraid of those who look different from themselves. They are not sure whether they can fully trust someone whose skin is a different color. The result is suspicion, if not outright animosity. Sometimes people think of a very small family group as the primary border of their trust and love. Peace in our world is desired by many who are not yet ready to face the implications of lack of trust right in their neighborhoods.
The Bible teaches a different view of our fellow beings. Paul spoke of ``one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.''1 The significance of this dawned on me at a time in my life when I suffered from painful shyness. The truth of this Scripture completely changed my view of the world.
For years I had been burdened by fear of meeting people, which caused me great distress and hampered my life by making me constantly self-conscious and reticent.When I began to study Christian Science, I prayed earnestly to learn to love my neighbor as myself, as Christ Jesus taught. One evening at a church meeting I saw that if I was the loved child of God, as the Bible indicates, so were the others around me. I realized that I was surrounded by God's children, and so we were all one family. I didn't need to be afraid of my family, and because this included all, I could love everyone in my community and those who needed my love and my prayers around the world.
A burden of fear fell right away. Not only did this allow me to make new friends freely; it showed me how the spirit of my prayer for the world could help free others also and could be effective in healing hostilities that lead to confrontations.
This doesn't mean that sinful mortals are God's offspring or that we're required somehow to love what may be very unlovable. But it does mean that the true selfhood of everyone is God's child. This is what we can and should love, and this higher perception of man can have a healing impact.
Pointing clearly to the distinction between the true nature of man and the false concept, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes, ``Immortals, or God's children in divine Science, are one harmonious family; but mortals, or the `children of men' in material sense, are discordant and ofttimes false brethren.''2
Basically, what was wrong in my situation was a false view. When the healing truth of the family of man came to me, the people in my experience hadn't changed. But my view of them had. When I saw them spiritually as family and loved them for it, I thought, talked, and acted differently. My relations with others, friend and stranger, were improved. Because I now saw them more as children of God rather than mortals to be feared, I became friendly and caring. This communicated love instead of aloofness, and people started responding differently toward me. Love welled up from within, impelling me to spend more time helping others.
Christian Science teaches that nationality, race, religion, do not affect the truth of man's spiritual nature, which is loved and eternally lovely. What would happen to our world if those who preach intolerance of others looked deeper, to the spiritual nature of man created in God's image, and recognized one harmonious family, cared for by the divine Father-Mother? Change for the better would be inevitable.
Do you and I have to wait for such a transformation to take place before our world can receive the love and understanding so greatly needed? There is something practical we can do to speed the transformation. James wrote, ``The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.''3 As we are moved by divine Love to pray for humanity, to realize what is spiritually true of individuals in all nations, regardless of how things appear, we'll help forward the world's progress. It isn't naive to expect this. Jesus' ministry illustrates the power of prayer in bringing to light man's God-given harmony. His teachings all point to the healing effect of purified thinking. While each one must work out his own salvation, our clear sense of the true nature of God's creation can have an uplifting, transforming influence.
The expression of love is the natural result of Christlike compassion, which reflects impartial divine Love. It's the result of seeing something of others' true identity. We can all do that, and we'll be blessed.
1Ephesians 4:6. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 444. 3James 5:16. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? Malachi 2:10