A Spiritual View of Land Reform
DISPUTES over ownership often seem to lie at the center of much human conflict. Those who consider themselves dispossessed confront those who control land resources. Can a spiritual view of such complex issues help contribute to its solution? We can answer ``yes'' if we have felt in our own lives something of the presence and power of God and have begun to trust our lives more constantly to the divine rule of God, almighty Spirit, who is, in truth, the ultimate source of authority.
When the Psalmist prayed, ``Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness,''1 he wasn't asking God's guidance to a specific geographic location. He was yearning, rather, for honesty, justice, integrity. Isn't this sense of being in God's presence the ``land'' that provides genuine well-being?
This land isn't just a poetic image. To the degree that we express spiritual qualities, such as integrity and justice, we gain a growing awareness of God's ever-presence for all His children. Because God, Spirit, is infinite, there is always enough of His presence and love to care for each one.
We learn from the Bible that God made man in His likeness. As the likeness of God, man must possess such Godlike qualities as wisdom, strength, and ability, as well as the opportunity to express them. Material conditions cannot hinder man's ongoing expression of genuine spiritual identity. We need to be vigorous in praying to discern more fully that man is, in truth, governed solely by God, Spirit.
Such prayer supports governmental efforts to distribute a nation's resources justly by refuting the picture of inequity with the truth that God's authority is universally present, supreme, unshakable, and that man is, in reality, obedient to God's supreme will. A more spiritual view of God and man increasingly brings actions into accord with God's law of good.
If we view land itself as having intrinsic value, then the amount of land owned might seem directly linked to the owner's worth, power, status. Certainly land is significant and useful. But there is a more secure source of value.
Christ Jesus taught that spiritual, not worldly, treasures have real worth and permanence. And it's natural for man, in his genuine, God-given selfhood, to esteem spirituality. Valuing the Ten Commandments, we obey these spiritual laws more consistently. The treasure we gain is a growing trust in God and an increasing commitment to brotherly love. We come to understand that provision for some does not need to be gained at the expense of deprivation for others. God cares for all His children.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes: ``Every step of progress is a step more spiritual. The great element of reform is not born of human wisdom; it draws not its life from human organizations; rather is it the crumbling away of material elements from reason, the translation of law back to its original language, -- Mind, and the final unity between man and God.''2
Isn't such spiritual fulfillment a goal that all -- landless and honest landowners alike -- can share? Mutual progress is in accord with God's impartial goodness. Faithfully striving to witness more fully to the ultimate authority of divine Spirit and the true brotherhood of man is prayer that helps increasingly bring to light the way to peaceful progress.
1Psalms 143:10. 2The People's Idea of God, p. 1.