THE conflict between "good guys and "bad guys is a basic theme in films and tele- vision. In classic westerns, for example, the "good guy (in the white hat and often on the white horse) wins the fight. The Bible, too, is full of such stories: Daniel in the lions' den and David and Goliath are familiar ones, and there are many others. It is not difficult to see in these stories examples of good overcoming evil of some kind.At the same time, if we're not careful, it's easy (whether we're watching televised drama or the nightly news) to accept an oversimplified view of the world as composed of good and bad in constant battle. Such a perspective would leave no room for lasting peace. Even if good wins a battle, there always seems to be another fight around the corner. Christ Jesus gave us quite a different picture of man, though, when he told us to love our en- emies. He too had enemies, who misunderstood his life and mission. Yet even on the cross he prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. By his word and his example, Jesus taught us to love our enemies. Did he mean by this that we should love evil? Quite the contrary, for he taught us to love the good and cast out the evil. God's man is truly spiritual and good; evil is a lie about man. The false character traits of mortality--such as greed, dishonesty, hatred--need to be put off in order to prove man's true selfhood as God's child. We don't love the mortal counterfeit of man's genuine, spiritual selfhood; instead we reject it as untrue. Evil is never a part of God's creation. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, states in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Since God is All, there is no room for His unlikeness. God, Spirit, alone created all, and called it good. This does not mean we should close our eyes to evil and ignore it. We can hardly ignore the suffering brought on by struggling factions in the Middle East, for example, as well as the private wars and difficulties we face in our own lives. Evil, error, needs to be detected and corrected. In reality, however, evil never has place or power but is a misconception of God's perfect creation. As we begin to understand God and His image and likeness, man, our prayers enable us to separate the evil from our perception of others and to see more of man's true identity as the child of God. As this happens, enmity lessens and peaceful solutions come into view. Experience has shown me that it is not always easy to do this but that it is well worth the effort. A few years ago, I had to learn an important lesson about viewing my fellowman as a child of God. My husband and I were caring for two foster children. Because of the mistreatment they had received in the past, they had developed difficult and unacceptable behavior. I knew that their greatest need was for love, but time and again I would find myself trying to change their behavior and meeting great resistance. I did not seem to be getting anywhere at all. The negative character traits stood like a wall, it seemed, preventing me from seeing the real, spiritual nature of the children I was supposed to love. Little by little, however, as I persisted in my prayers and in the effort to be obedient to the Christly directive to love, I was able to catch more and more glimpses of the true man as the image and likeness of God. As my prayer helped me to understand more clearly the unconditional nature of God's love, I was able to stop putting conditions on my own love for His creation. I could see that I didn't need to wait for the children to change in order for me to love them or for them to deserve love. God is always caring for and loving all His children, every moment. Any evidence that says otherwise is a lie. Mrs. Eddy has this to say about mortal history in her book Retrospection and Introspection: "It is well to know, dear reader, that our material, mortal history is but the record of dreams, not of man's real existence, and the dream has no place in the Science of being. Gradually the situation improved. Eventually, the children were returned to their mother's care, and the reports of their progress have been encouraging. As I look back on this time, I continue to discover things I learned. The blessings are many. The clearer realization that everyone, no matter what his or her circumstance, is truly the child of God is the biggest blessing of all. Prayer awakens us to see that in reality we are all brothers and sisters working together in God's family. It helps us learn to appreciate each other, to express greater patience and love. By striv- ing to understand the truth of man and to live this way, we will gradually see and experience this greater expression of God's love everywhere--not only in our own private lives but in the world around us.
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds . . . . Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. . . . And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body.
Colossians 3:9, 12, 13, 15