Something had to change, and I realized it was my attitude. Not too long before a presidential election in the United States, I was at a large gathering. An acquaintance was passing out political leaflets, unsolicited --along with strong opinions.
I kept quiet. He skillfully drew out of others their political leanings, and then proceeded to condemn them. He appeared to thrive on the confrontation and condemned just about everything I held in high regard. Pretty soon I found myself letting a few opinions slip out, in whispers carefully gauged to be loud enough just for him to hear.
I realized I had unwittingly jumped into the fray and had let myself be drawn into justifying my views. Help -- I knew I needed it. I remembered a statement found in a book I've long valued, called Miscellaneous Writings, a collection of some of Mary Baker Eddy's writings on Christian Science. She discovered Christian Science, which explains the laws underlying the healing works of Christ Jesus. What came to thought was this: "A little more grace, a motive made pure, a few truths tenderly told, a heart softened, a character subdued, a life consecrated, would restore the right action of the mental mechanism, and make manifest the movement of body and soul in accord with God" (p. 354).
Insights into how Jesus faced difficult situations are recorded in the Bible. He didn't meet criticism and hatred by reacting angrily and venting opinions. After he preached in Galilee, repeating the Scriptural prophecies that foretold his coming as the Messiah, many people were furious, thinking of him only as the son of Joseph. The book of Luke records that they "rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way" (4:28-30).
If he had turned to argue with them, criticizing their disbelief and strong opinions, Jesus probably would have become a victim. But he must have known he did not need to defend what he said. Later, in Philippians, the Bible teaches, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (2:5). This would mean exemplifying the humility of Jesus. When we have the consciousness of God with us, as he did, we are not subject to wrath, but instead can bring peace to any situation.
Even when Jesus was falsely accused of crimes punishable by execution, the Bible says in Matthew, "he answered nothing" (27:12). In the face of the most unfair accusation and condemnation, Jesus saw no gain in arguing.
Following that example does not mean there is never a right time to express our thoughts. But it does mean endeavoring to express the qualities Jesus expressed -- poise and unconditional love. These qualities are natural to one who understands what Jesus showed -- that God is the only power. Understanding this fact, we need not defend our opinions or set others straight. God will bless a desire to be humble and give with it the ability to be discreet, poised, and gracious in response to confrontation.
After I had prayed to God that evening, I was prompted to give a sincere hug to my friend when he left later. God's power establishes harmony and respect among individuals. All of us can express the love of God, which conquers stridency, confrontation, and a divisive nature.
Following this experience I began listening more quietly for God's direction as to whom to vote for in the elections. Interestingly, I found myself knowing that I should vote for a candidate I'd previously been opposed to. I based that decision, not on the many varying political issues of the day, but on the conclusion that one individual appeared to express more of the qualities I knew Jesus had expressed. While I did not always agree with the views of this candidate, or even his party, a new feeling of humility was leading me to discern the most important qualities to support in those elections. Once the decision was made, I felt unequivocally that it was right.
I had expressed "a little more grace," and my motive was more pure. Looking to the example set by Jesus had brought the answers I needed in order to participate intelligently in the political process.