MUCH has been said and written about political scandals and corruption in Italy, Japan, Brazil, and other countries. Our prayers for honesty and stability in ourselves and our governments are needed now more than ever.
These situations often have a negative impact on individuals in government, even before it's clear who is responsible. I've found that it can be helpful to consider a statement Christ Jesus makes in his Sermon on the Mount in the Bible. There, as Matthew's Gospel (7:1, 2) records, the Master says very succinctly: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
I used to puzzle over those verses. It seemed to me that if someone had done wrong, they should be judged. And the Bible makes clear that sin must be accounted for; there must be repent-ance, regeneration, and reform. How do we avoid judging others, then, and at the same time not excuse wrong behavior?
If we think of man as material, then sin, corruption, and other wrongdoing can seem to be part of the normal course of events. Judg-ing from such a basis, the only verdict that could be given is moral failure and decline. And if we are accepting these for others, we do so for ourselves also. But Christ Jesus' teachings make clear that we are of a much nobler heritage. In spiritual reality, we are sons and daughters of the King; we are the children of God.
To judge ourselves and others spiritually, is at last using the right measurement, the one that blesses them and us. To do this, it is necessary to recognize that in truth man--you and I--has never been material. Each of us is actually spiritual and pure because we are the offspring of divine Truth and Love, the offspring of God. It is natural to express goodness, perfection, joy, and peace because they are the essence of real being, which is spiritual and inseparable from God, eternal Life.
This doesn't mean that sin is to be ignored. Sinful behavior must be punished and given up in order for progress to take place. But as our spirituality becomes more concrete to us, we begin to understand and express the kind of compassion Christ Jesus expressed when he told an adulteress, "Go, and sin no more" (John 8:11). Jesus made clear that it was the sin, not the woman, that he was condemning. But he was also making clear that the way out of her troubles demanded reform.
Praying to know that sin is never part of our--or anyone's--real nature does much to lift the burden of materialism off ourselves and our governments. In prayer we are affirming man's spirituality and refusing to accept suggestions that "everybody is crooked," "a little cheating doesn't matter," or "it's the only way to get ahead." If we think of each individual in relation to God, we will understand that neither we nor our governments can be the prey of corruption because God's children are all under th e control of perfect Truth and impartial Love.
Turning to God in this way strengthens us and others against temptation. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, makes this point in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes, "If sin makes sinners, Truth and Love alone can unmake them" (p. 270). So turning to Truth and Love is the best way to pray for release from sin, whether for ourselves or our governments. Overcoming corruption and the lies that go with it may not--probably won't--happen all at once. But striving to live the essence of truth and love each day tangibly expresses God's government, makes it manifest in practical ways in human affairs, and powerfully affirms our spiritual heritage as citizens of His kingdom.