You hear the term radical used a lot today. Acts of extreme violence from so-called radical groups or individuals threaten the peace and progress of humanity. Where can a person turn to find freedom from despair, terror, anger, or numb indifference?
Thinking about recent violence in different places caused me to search with a prayerful eye for some bedrock of safety. Surprisingly, I found great comfort and strength in a new understanding of the very word radical. A dictionary gave me the following definition of the term: "of, relating to, or proceeding from a root; of or relating to the origin." The Bible says God is the origin of man. From this I reasoned that we are rooted, or have origin, in Him.
God is good. Goodness has been frequently associated with God through the centuries. According to the teachings of Christ Jesus, God is also omnipotent.
Acts of terrorism and violence, then, could not result from God. No, not even if the doer of the act believed he or she was serving God. The Amplified Bible gives this wording to a passage in Jeremiah: "For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace, and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. . . . Then you will seek Me, inquire for and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me; when you search for Me with all your heart" (29:11, 13).
Searching for God with all our heart is radical searching. We find the presence and power of God -- of good -- when we turn to Him to find our origin. And we must be willing to trust Him radically as well. It is possible to place trust in God and find His goodness in our lives. No matter how difficult the barriers to peace or security appear to be, the fact remains that God is with us. We are actually created in His image, as His spiritual expression -- the expression of good. Expressing His goodness is our refuge from harm, and I proved this.
I had a very difficult time with one employer, who seemed to enjoy showering me with hatred. Since I needed my job, it was not possible to remove myself from the haranguing verbal attacks by resigning. I sought God as my refuge from all harm, including hatred. I studied the Bible every day, together with the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which Mary Baker Eddy first published in 1875. Here I read the statement "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts" (p. 261). This demanded radical action on my part. I began to hold radically to the facts of God that I had learned. I watched my every thought about this employer, to be sure I was seeing only what God knew about him. That meant I had to refer to the root, or origin -- God -- to know what is true of Him and His children. I knew God is good only and is not evil; therefore, each one of His children must be good -- like Him. I became quite radical in my willingness to see myself and everyone, including this man, in this way only.
At first he still appeared to me overwhelmingly as an evil, hateful man. But I held my ground. And eventually these views of him came less frequently. I did not deviate from the radical viewpoint that God governs all, including this man, perfectly.
Several weeks later I was traveling to visit a client with this man. Suddenly he gave me a compliment and told me how he had changed his mind about what he thought of me. He said that now he enjoyed working with me and respected my work. A good relationship became established between us, and it stayed good. During all this I had never tried to convince the man to change his thought about me; I placed complete trust only in God.
That's just one example of the way in which we all can trust God radically. God is always with us wherever we are. We are living in the presence of good; good alone is the root, the foundation, of all creation. Understanding this brings peace to our hearts and relationships -- and to the world.
*The Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine, contains other articles on Christian Science.