'HOW are you seeing your world?" That question was posed in a television commercial that I saw. I considered it thought-provoking-not from the standpoint of eyesight, but rather of the world itself. In what way did I perceive my surroundings, my fellow beings, and myself?
In day-to-day dealings with family, friends, co-workers, or strangers, there are often varied responses to how we are seeing our world. Some responses are positive. Others are all too often negative. At first glance-and sometimes at second and third glance-there appears to be contention in the world, between cultures, races, and nations. So if we are to enjoy harmony with one another, there is a need to consider our perceptions and judgments of others. The Bible states, in John's Gospel, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (7:24). I have learned that by following the example of Jesus Christ, who spoke these words, I can gain a better understanding of God. In so doing, I am able to improve relationships, both personal and collective.
So much information, from various sources, says that some of us are different, inferior, sick, or depraved. But studying the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible shows clearly that God's creation is far from including such poor conditions. And man-you and I-is certainly God's creation.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Christian Science Church, wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that God acts as a unifying and healing force among men and nations; that realizing this eliminates whatever is not right in any of the affairs of mankind; that it can wipe out suffering of every sort (see p. 340). Christian Science shows that to acknowledge God as All-and that as a result evil is nothing-does change the perception of the one who prays in this way. Thinking determines one's experiences, and unpleasant views of mankind become less and less the reality to us when we think spiritually. The result is a greater degree of harmony, not just for one, but for all.
Science and Health says: "We must look deep into realism instead of accepting only the outward sense of things" (p. 129). We "look deep into realism" when we pray. True prayer is not a pleading with a God who is some sort of far-off being. It understands in various ways that God is ever present, all-loving, and that His creation can only give evidence of good.
Looking beyond the initial appearances was not difficult for Jesus. The many healings he effected came despite the oftentimes alarming physical appearances of disease. And they came despite the fact that Jesus was praying for people sometimes seen as sinners.
If we want to be a friend to all humanity, as Jesus was, the following statement from the Bible will be of help: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). Whatever depicts man as other than the good child of God is a "false prophet." By "trying the spirits"-the thoughts you have-you can check your thoughts and do away with those that are not good.
One time when my wife and I went into a store, we were waited on by an employee whose unkempt appearance was at first somewhat disconcerting. But before I could dwell on this man's appearance, this thought came to me: "Behold one of God's children." It was as if these words had been audibly spoken to me. This brought me up short. Then I perceived clearly that here indeed must be one of God's children standing before us. This was wonderfully uplifting for me. Furthermore, this employee proved to be very courteous and quite helpful. I left feeling humble and grateful. Through this small example, I gained some insight into the fact that God sees each of us, not as physical and flawed, but as spiritual and perfect. It all hinted at something Mrs. Eddy wrote in Science and Health: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals" (pp. 476-477). Since then, I've found myself overcoming a tendency to make hasty judgments of others, based on mere appearances.