SEVERAL years ago this newspaper invited people to share their thoughts about world peace. Contributors were asked to consider a hypothetical time in the twenty-first century when world peace had already been established, and then to explain, from that point of view, how it had come about. ``Peace 2010,'' as I recall, was the theme.
The concept of working toward a peaceful world by thinking from the standpoint of peace having already been established was, for me, enlightening. It helped me to understand better the confidence with which we can take each step toward a worthwhile goal when we start from the position of seeing the goals as already attained.
For example, an architect designing a new building, can look at an empty piece of land and see in his mind's eye a finished structure. Making working draw-ings, digging foundations, erecting steelwork, may take time. But the whole project, from beginning to end, is already complete in thought as a mental model guiding each step of the designing and building process.
In like manner, you and I need mental models--good and accurate ideals of manhood and womanhood--in order to embody them in our lives. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the Science--Christian Science--underlying Christ Jesus' words and works, says in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives'' (p. 248).
Perfect models are Godlike. And God, the Bible explains, is Spirit. The Bible also makes clear that man is made in God's likeness. It follows that your true identity--and mine, and that of every man, woman, and child, irrespective of race, religion, or upbringing--is spiritual, not material. In this light we can see that reality is defined by spiritual qualities. These make up what is already true of us.
When we're expressing our genuine, spiritual nature, we see that it's normal for you and me to be joyous. It's nor-mal for us to be at peace, to be patient, to be kind to one another. These spiritual qualities define our true character. To the extent that we endeavor to think and act this way we become better, healthier, happier, people.
Christ Jesus demonstrated conclusively that spiritual improvement brings health and happiness to our lives. By spiritual means alone, he healed multitudes of people suffering from all kinds of ailments. And he made plain that God was the source of the healing work. He said, John's Gospel tells us, ``I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me'' (5:30).
The creative Principle, God, that Jesus referred to as ``Father'' is also your Father and my Father. God is our universal Parent. As we consider thoughtfully that we are the children of God, we begin to see more clearly the Godlike qualities that make up our true, spiritual identity. We then have to put these qualities into action.
Jesus emphasized the need for doing what's right. In the Gospel of Luke, we read of a man asking Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. In reply, Jesus inquired of his questioner what the law said. The man then quoted the basic law of life, which requires us to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus approved the answer, saying, ``Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live'' (10:28).
Doing what's right is a necessary part of true living. The spiritual fact is this: God is Love, and we are all children of God. We are all, in fact, loved and loving expressions of divine Love. As we acknowledge what we truly are, we find our lives becoming a better expression of our true identity.
The Apostle Paul wrote in a letter to the Philippians, ``Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things'' (4:8). Through putting into practice our true identity and nature, we arrive at the goal of perfect being. We get there because, in reality, we already are there.