Concern over the issue of Jewish settlements in predominantly Palestinian regions of Israel has been highlighted this year, especially following the election on May 29 of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The continued building by Israeli settlers, on land the Palestinian people claim as their own, appears to be one of the stumbling blocks to peace efforts in the Middle East.
To an Israeli settler convinced of the legitimacy of these settlements; to a Palestinian looking for a home and feeling slighted by expansion; and to onlookers around the world, it may appear as though what has really been settling in is more injustice, intolerance, and self-justification.
However strong these impressions may be, if such were really true, they would constitute defiance of the way God made things to be for all His children. Qualities like those just mentioned ultimately have no place or power at all in God's creation. One of my favorite Bible verses points to this conclusion. The Psalmist sang, "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven" (Psalms 119:89). This praise of the Psalmist acknowledges God's impartial authority as permanently established over all, and as the basis for peace among men and nations.
Clearly, a situation that appears to portray conflict as fact would contradict this. But God is good and made only good. Having no origin in God, evil -- whether perceived as injustice, intolerance, unforgivingness, willfulness, or violence -- has no real expression in you, in me, in anyone. We are children of God. He did not make us to express evil.
Now, evil comes to thought as real and enduring. As long-held animosities that can never change. As selfishness that will never relinquish material gain. But predictions of strife are not grounded in facts of God. They find power only in false supposition that a mind force exists apart from God. Prophecies of doom are self-fulfilling to the extent we resign ourselves to them in our hearts. But we can, with the understanding of God in divine Science, ensure we do not allow this to happen. Because they are not promotive of unconditional good for all, hopeless conclusions do not have divine support or sanction. They are never truly settled in God, or in His children, and cannot in reality become so. What is truly constant is what is "settled in heaven" -- the Word of God. God's Word is eternal reality. All else is a temporal view of material circumstances. It's worth reiterating that spiritual good is what is "settled in heaven," and that no one is left out of it.
An incident in the Bible shows how Christ Jesus fed thousands of men, women, and children with just a little food at hand (see John, chap. 6). Referring to this, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the Science of Christ in 1866, wrote, "In the scientific relation of God to man, we find that whatever blesses one blesses all, as Jesus showed with the loaves and the fishes, -- Spirit, not matter, being the source of supply" (p. 206). This is from the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Whatever one's nationality, wherever one lives, one can pray to improve his or her understanding of this spiritual blessing. Good is boundless. Available to all. That is, God's law of Love is established for all, impartially.
The understanding of God that enabled Jesus to feed those hungry people was spiritual knowledge. This knowledge is the key to the settlement of individual and societal thought, which in turn must produce real peace, forgiveness, and tolerance; must foster mutuality of desire. Prayer for the understanding of -- and evidence of -- God's laws of good fosters human actions that harm no one and benefit all.
Whatever sincere prayer for and by the Jews and Palestinians leads to in practice, such prayer can bring only increasing peace, resolution, and accord. These effects follow from understanding our relationship to God. In this relationship, all thoughts, all hearts, can find both rest and belonging. To the detriment of none. To the benefit of all.
*You can find in-depth articles about Christian Science in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.