TODAY as nation-states are trying to reestablish themselves, they are often concerned about preserving their religious, geographic, or cultural identities. Individually, as well, most of us feel comfortable identifying ourselves with a certain group of people. While this may give a sense of belonging, if carried too far it also excludes others and engenders prejudice, rivalry, even war. Is there a way of identifying ourselves that unites and includes no divisive elements?
Yes. And in a letter to the Galatians, Paul points us toward what it is. He writes, "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. This unity of the children of God is evidenced in Jesus' own statement that God is "our Father--the Father of all.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, refers to man's spiritual parentage in Miscellaneous Writings, where she speaks of the spiritual laws that help us to discover our own genuine, spiritual identity. She writes: "These commands of infinite wisdom, translated into the new tongue, their spiritual meaning, signify: Thou shalt love Spirit only, not its opposite, in every God-quality, even in substance; thou shalt recognize thyself as God's spiritual child only, and the true man and true woman, the all-harmonious 'male and female,' as of spiritual origin, God's reflection, --thus as children of one common Parent,--wherein and whereby Father, Mother, and child are the divine Principle and divine idea, even the divine 'Usone in good, and good in One.
By identifying exclusively with particular customs and practices we may fail to recognize man's true, spiritual identity in God's likeness. Love for God and His children, however, can enable us to dissolve any traditional beliefs that would make us enemies. Such love builds upon the qualities of perfect manhood and womanhood that really unite us. This truth can be made practical in our experience, as I found a few years ago. I had become concerned about warring factions in a certain part of the world. I found myself justifying my own nations' cultural biases and harboring ill will toward people I knew very little about.
Since this antipathy was so contrary to the spirit of Jesus' teachings, I began to pray to understand better the man of God's creation. I knew that God's man is spiritual, created, constituted, and governed by God, divine Love. I could see that because we are all children of one common Parent, God, and reflect Him, we all must include the qualities of wisdom, patience, mercy, justice, compassion, humility, brotherly love, and have the desire to express them toward our fellowman. I prayed to see that I co uld recognize good and appreciate it no matter who expressed it, and so could everyone else. I realized that because good originated in God it did not originate with one group of people and fail to appear in another, but was present everywhere as the result of God's omnipresent reality and activity. As my prejudices yielded to the truth of one common identity, one brotherhood, I found from my reading that these people had made important contributions to science, art, and world culture.
Our family hosts foreign students through a university program in our community. When it next came time to indicate the country from which we would like a student, I felt I was ready to put my prayers into action. The student we hosted from that country expressed all the qualities of manhood that I had been praying to see manifested. I was grateful to see the evidence of the effectual power of divine Love to overcome religious and cultural biases and unite us in one brotherhood.
As each of us prays daily to identify himself and others as God's spiritual child, we will see more evidence of man's spiritual brotherhood in our homes, our communities, and in the world.