WHAT is it that causes us to think that we can't live peaceably with our neighbors, regardless of their racial, ethnic, or religious background? Isn't this the question underlying the many ethnic and nationalistic conflicts now springing up in the world?
We each, if we were so inclined, could list endless things that would separate us from others. But there is a great unity that ultimately joins all of us together. This spiritual oneness stems from man's individual relationship to God. If we are really seeking the final word on any issue, we can find it by looking deeply into the nature of God and His creation, man.
Our view of what God is and what His creation is like does much to determine what we actually experience in our lives. So we can see how urgent it is to understand more clearly the precise nature of God.
Over and over in her writings, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, is very definite about God's nature, as the Bible reveals it, and what it does here on earth. "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry,--whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man,
and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed, she writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
The "brotherhood of man follows logically from the understanding of "one infinite God. One God means one creator, one divine Parent, one Father-Mother. And wouldn't this mean that the family of man, which He creates, is also united by man's oneness with his creator?
The Bible says, we read in Acts, that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth. Aren't many racial clashes and ethnic conflicts fueled by the notion that someone's bloodline is different and that this difference is important? But as God creates man, man is a spiritual being.
Of course, no one at this point would argue that all national borders be obliterated. Yet we can admit to ourselves that the spiritual fact that man is created in God's image makes null and void the useless notion that human heritage should divide the family of man.
It is only natural that people of differing backgrounds show similarly some differing ways of living. But these cultural differences can enrich, rather than divide, us when we are tied together by the gospel teaching that Christ Jesus brought to all mankind.
Jesus gave us what we now call the Lord's Prayer--a prayer to divine Spirit, God, that cuts across every human barrier. He also taught that such spiritual and moral values as forgiveness, meekness, humility, gratitude, and unselfishness are the only suitable means to worship God and to live harmoniously on earth.
A glimpse of God as universal, divine Love and a willingness to accept into our hearts the gospel that Christ Jesus taught are the keys that enable all of us to live harmoniously together--in the same household, the same neighborhood, the same country, the same world.
A friend's experience, which took place over several years, bears this out. He had founded a small home for handicapped individuals in what could be termed an affluent neighborhood of an affluent community. There were no legal restrictions to the project, but there appeared to be significant barriers of fear and prejudice due to concerns about property values in that neigh- borhood.
My friend took great care to inform his neighbors about the project. And he was careful to give attention to all of the concerns the neighbors raised. But still the bad feeling persisted. It seemed some people just did not want this group of individuals in the neighborhood. At one point, tensions in the neighborhood were so severe that someone smashed the windows on the home's van.
But my friend and his family did not react. They persisted in loving their neighbors. They knew that since God is eternal and all-powerful and He is the source of the love they felt for the work they were doing and for their neighbors, love would win out. They strove to be "blameless and harmless, as Paul counseled in his letter to the Philippians, in all their dealings with the neighborhood.
The fear and discord did dissolve for my friend. It didn't happen overnight. But one by one, small incidents occurred that brought the people who had been opposed to the project into contact with the home and its family. When the home was relocated seven years later, there was universal agreement that the home had been good for the neighborhood.
Beloved, let us love one another:
for love is of God;
and every one that loveth
is born of God,
and knoweth God.
He that loveth not
knoweth not God;
for God is love. . . .
Herein is love,
not that we loved God,
but that he loved us . . . .
Beloved, if God so loved us,
we ought also to love one another.
I John 4:7, 8, 10, 11