WHEN I was growing up, I remember, there were frequent sharp debates in my community about ``those people'' and ``our people.'' Later, I realized my friends and neighbors were making these distinctions along sharply defined religious, ethnic, and racial lines.
At the time, I attended the Christian Science Sunday School every week. I learned that God--man's creator--did not divide man into different groups based on such factors. The Bible tells us in Acts that God ``hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth'' (17:26). The loving spirit my parents had for those of all races and religions reinforced what I learned in Sunday School.
Sadly, though, these views and experiences are not shared by everyone. I can't remember a time when there hasn't been news of people of one race or religion or ethnicity pitted against another somewhere in the world. As I've prayed to see evidence of the spiritual brotherhood that we all share, I've come to see that the Biblical phrase ``of one blood'' must surely refer to spiritual creation, not biological relationships. That's only logical, be-cause God is divine Spirit, the only power able to create such a vast and intelligent thing as man and the universe. Because God is Spirit, man, who is made in His likeness, must be spiritual. This fact removes one big stumbling block that would try to keep us from having a more universal brotherhood in the world: the feeling that bloodlines determine our relationships and can be actual barriers to goodwill between all men and women.
The Bible gives an account of how Peter, one of Christ Jesus' disciples, learned that the artificial divisions imposed by national or racial differences are wiped away by the understanding that God, Spirit, is the Father-Mother of all. The story has special meaning for me. Peter had witnessed Jesus' healing mission, and had seen that it crossed lines of national origin. Yet it seems as though Peter was hesitant to follow this example as he continued preaching and healing after Christ Jesus had left. The book of Acts tells us, however, that God sent a vision to Peter that made clear the spiritual lesson Peter needed to learn in order to preach to people of other nations and races. God's repeated message to Peter, ``What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common'' (10:15), prepared Peter to lay aside his own prejudices and go with the messengers that came to take him to teach and baptize Cornelius, a foreigner who yearned to know more of God. Peter had learned, as he told Cornelius, ``that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him'' (Acts 10:34, 35).
Often, we know that something is right--like the truth of God as the universal Father-Mother of everyone--but our preconceptions and prejudices make us slow to accept and act on our knowledge. Yet this, too, is well within God's ability to remedy, for we reflect His love, which embraces all. Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, says in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany: ``On this basis the brotherhood of all peoples is established; namely, one God, one Mind, and `Love thy neighbor as thyself,' the basis on which and by which the infinite God, good, the Father-Mother Love, is ours and we are His in divine Science'' (p. 281).
On this spiritual basis we can widen and deepen our apprecia-tion of mankind's brotherhood. And this, in turn, will replace divisiveness with the spiritual love that regards all people as truly God's people.