Flags Flying

IT'S thrilling to see long-suppressed flags of newly freed countries flying again. Yet sometimes new freedoms have loosed old hostilities. Then flags become rallying points for conflict.Is there a standard that can transcend injurious divisions and call mankind to a freedom secured by genuine brotherhood? The Bible promises such a flag or ensign. It isn't a banner of colorful bunting, but something ultimately much more practical. It's an example of how to live in peace and brotherhood. Isaiah prophesied this Exemplar and his reign of peace and justice this way: "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people. This rallying point--the root of Jesse--prefigures Christ Jesus and the divine Truth he lived. This Truth--that man is the beloved child of Spirit, God, who is man's only creator--isn't tied to a certain people, place, or time. It's for everyone, everywhere. It is Christ, man's divine sonship. Jesus expressed the Christ without measure. He recognized that the true picture of man's relationship to God isn't found in the stereotypes people attach to each other. Thus he didn't react to labels of nationality and social status, because he understood them to have no authority over man's genuine, God-created selfhood. This enabled Jesus to practice a seamless brotherhood. He ministered alike to fellow citizen and foreign soldier, beggar and nobleman, official's wife and prostitute--healing sin an d sickness. But can we hope to love, even in a degree, as Jesus did? Clearly, the Master saw this as possible. He repeatedly taught his followers to be peacemakers, to forgive, to love even one's persecutors. How could he expect that anyone could do this? Isn't it because of what he understood about man's Maker? He called God "our Father and taught that God loves all, without exception. It follows, then, that peacemaking and lovingkindness are, in fact, natural to man as God's offspring. And all are, in truth , God's children. Obviously, it often seems otherwise. Faced with injustice or persecution, we may feel that our efforts to make peace are inadequate. Or even that we don't want to make peace. But man, as God's likeness, isn't trapped in a grievous drama of conflicting wills and competing histories. In reality, God, divine Love, is the sole governor of man. His will is supreme, and it is impartial good, ruling out the sin of anger and hate. Because man originates in Spirit alone, not in matter, man's true identity isn't found in a material past but in the countless spiritual qualities of thought man reflects from his creator. These are qualities like spiritual discernment, mercy, honesty. Accepting that man's selfhood is spiritual doesn't deprive us of uniqueness or of a sense of belonging. Instead, it leads us to glimpse our God-given completeness and to see Love's inclusiveness. Then we begin to recognize that good isn't limited to the past or reserved for the future. It's actually present now, since almighty God, the source of all good, is eternally present. To experience something of this truth requires spiritual receptivity on our part. It makes the Christian demand on us to reject stereotypes about ourselves and others and to let man's true, spiritual nature come to view. The reward is progress in breaking through imprisoning fears and hurts to a more secure brotherliness. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes, "When the divine precepts are understood, they unfold the foundation of fellowship, in which one mind is not at war with another, but all have one Spirit, God, one intelligent source, in accordance with the Scriptural command: 'Let this Mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.' As we yield to the truth of our innate Christliness, we can find the incentive to be peacemakers. And we'll see better that, no matter how small, each step we take to commit our hearts to the brotherhood of man has value. We're following, in a degree, the Master's example, and so we're witnesses to, and are supported by, the supreme law of Love. This witnessing is rallying to the universal flag of Christ, Truth. A hymn from the Christian Science Hymnal includes a prayer for strength and courage to fly this flag of Christly goodwill:

O Father, may we bear each hour The flag of hope and peace unfurled, And mirror forth Love's sacred power To feed and bless a hungry world. We shall not falter by the way If we but place our trust in Thee, Obeying gladly day by day The living Truth that makes men free.

Reflecting the love of Christ, Truth, we help minister to others' needs. This brings to light the genuine, God-protected peace and brotherhood native to man. It confirms that, in reality, the flag of Christliness is always flying, signaling in our hearts the authority of God's all-encompassing law of love.

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