AS South Africans approach the first elections in which all racial groups will be represented, the world watches intently. The courage of all parties--no matter what color or ethnic background-- cannot be doubted. And our prayers can support the bravery of South Africa as it takes this historic step.
One specific fear our prayers can address is the belief that such a massive change in government will lead to chaos, war, and disaster instead of the progress everyone hopes for. This should not occur; we can look to God, the ultimate governor, for guidance. Through prayer, we can find His government in operation not just in our lives but also in the affairs of nations.
The Bible often speaks of God as Judge and as Lawgiver. Yet Christ Jesus' ministry presents with crystal clarity the concept of God as divine Love, compassionately caring for all. A good judge expresses love while also upholding the law. And God's love for man was fully expressed through the Master's life, which showed that obedience to God brings prosperity and peace.
Such obedience becomes manifest when we treat all humanity as the sons and daughters of God. This inherent love for our fellow beings comes to us from God; it is natural to us because in truth each of us is spiritual. The book of Isaiah refers to the saving power of Christ--the spiritual truth that Jesus lived and gave to us--when it declares, ``The government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.'' Isaiah goes on to say, ``Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end'' (9:6, 7). As we accept Christ's healing presence as active in the world, we will see progressive changes in human government as evidence of the divine government manifesting itself in human consciousness. Divine rule leads naturally to greater freedom and increased opportunity for all.
There sometimes is the deep-seated feeling that while change may ultimately be beneficial, a nation must go through chaos on its way to order. Again, to whatever degree we perceive man's essentially good nature as the offspring of a totally good God, divine Love, we will support the progress of South Africa and any other nation. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, speaks of maintaining order through an understanding of God's power. She writes, ``Eternal Truth is changing the universe. . . . `Let there be light,' is the perpetual demand of Truth and Love, changing chaos into order and discord into the music of the spheres'' (p. 255).
Truth and Love demand change and progress toward a higher understanding of man's true nature. To understand our fellow humans as God's spiritual offspring means we do not need to accept violence or evil behavior as necessary. Such evil traits present us with a false picture of man as a mortal who is capable of harm. When we prayerfully affirm that man is spiritual and good, however, we are helping to set ourselves and others free to be who we truly are--the reflection of divine Love. And the more quickly and certainly we are able to pray in this way, the more surely will our prayers have an effect.
South Africa's journey toward greater freedom for all may not be easy, but if we join its citizens in their prayers for peace, harmony, and progress we will be doing much good. And we will not yield to fear or chaos but to the ``perpetual demand of Truth and Love'' whose light is shining on all of us.