THOUSANDS of years ago, the Biblical prophet Nahum wrote, ``Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery'' (3:1). It sounds like something we might read in the newspaper or hear on radio or television, doesn't it?
Yet even when we hear reports of the problems in the cities, we also know that much good is there too. Cities are dynamic places, filled with ideas and opportunities. And our prayers for them can do much to help these useful activities predominate while efforts are made to solve urban troubles.
The first step we might take is to recognize that cities are not Godless or God-forsaken. Christ Jesus taught that God loves all of His children, no matter where they are. And because God is omnipresent good, He is with us wherever we are. We can turn to Him in prayer for ideas about how to make our cities better and safer. And we can expect an answer!
You may say, ``That's all very well, but it doesn't help much when I am walking down a dark street at night.'' Actually, it does make a difference if we let it. Evil never comes from God, so He couldn't possibly allow anyone to suffer or to do evil. It is legitimate, then, for us to pray to know that we live in God's city, where only good can take place. The book of Psalms refers to the city of God in these terms: ``God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early'' (46:5). How do we bring our cities into conformity with God's city? We can recognize that there isn't a separate material world where we live but God doesn't. There is only one universe, and that's the spiritual one that God created. It's where we are and where God is too.
Proving the presence of God, of divine Love, in our lives, however, requires of us a more spiritual outlook, not just toward ourselves, but also toward those we meet. This Christly view of man constitutes a spiritual ``armor'' that gives us security wherever we happen to be. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes about this armor, or panoply, in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She says: ``At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. . . . Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you'' (p. 571).
The essential characteristic of this armor is love for God and for man. This love extends not just to our friends but also to those strangers we might meet on the city streets. It is not an impractical, idealized love but rests on a knowledge of what man actually is. Man isn't a psychological being filled with mental quirks, angers, or drives that somehow have to be expressed in violence. The man God created--our genuine selfhood--is made up of spiritual qualities such as intelligence, peace, truth, justice. He is, in fact, the expression of divine Love. As God's ideas, we each are related to one another through our oneness with God, divine Mind.
It follows, then, that we can express purity, joy, goodness, and wisdom. These should be a natural part of our dealings with others and of the way we think about ourselves. It is important, too, to affirm that these qualities are true about our cities, their government, and everything that touches them. While life in the cities of the world has its challenges, all of us--wherever we are- -can help lead the way to solutions. Through our diligent prayers, especially at times when harmony seems anything but evident, we will be able to prove that all of us, whatever the human name of our city, actually live in the city of God.