The recent state of international relations - both the bad news and the good news - prompted me to give more thought to something: what does it take to get along with others in this world of diverse cultures, governments, races, and religions?
Then a postcard came to mind, which I had received recently at an interfaith conference in my city. Five different versions of the Golden Rule were written on this postcard. Each version represented a different faith - Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Bahai.
I had learned the Golden Rule through these words of Christ Jesus: "As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (Luke 6:31). However, I did not know the extent to which this code of conduct is embraced worldwide by many religious groups.
Then I realized that this is not just a code of conduct to abide by, as important as that may be. It is something much more than that. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science in 1866, once said in reference to the Golden Rule that it is "a divine rule for human conduct" ("Miscellaneous Writings," Pg. 301). The fact that this Golden Rule is known the world over by diverse peoples gives evidence that its origin and influence are not from humans but from God, who is everywhere and, as the Bible says, "is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). This rule expresses a divine law and therefore has God's authority. It can't be ignored, because God's laws are inevitable, all-pervasive, and govern all.
Jesus taught the Golden Rule, and he was a master when it came to living up to it. He gave implicit instructions on how to abide by this rule when he said: "Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you"; also "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Luke 6:27, 28; Matt. 22:39)
Many times I have had to abide by these guidelines and not react angrily if I thought I was being treated unjustly. Knowledge that the Golden Rule was in effect brought blessings. I especially remember one time when I had taken a new job. One key aspect of it was difficult to understand, and my boss urged me to speak with the person in the organization who had previously carried out the duties in question. However, when I tried to contact this person over a period of a couple of months, there was never any response. It appeared she was intentionally ignoring me.
At first I wanted to tell my boss about how uncooperative she was. I wanted to criticize her openly. But it just did not seem principled to talk about this situation to anyone, including my employer. Looking back, I realize that the Golden Rule was the principle guiding my thoughts and actions.
Praying in a heartfelt way, which included expressing forgiveness on my part, was the answer I needed - not retaliation. I also recalled the spiritual fact that God's love and wisdom were with me always, and that my success in my new job was not dependent on anyone else. God was in charge. He would take care of what needed to be done.
I remember I was praying in this way one morning, around seven o'clock, and feeling peaceful and close to God. Suddenly the phone rang. The very person I had been trying to contact for so long was on the line, apologizing for not getting back to me. I invited her to lunch. We agreed on a time and place. Our time together was congenial and productive. Some months later, she even came over to my home one evening to give me some extra help with my job. The Golden Rule was in action for us both.
There's no denying that our world still has a long way to go before there is consistent utilization of the Golden Rule. But I've seen a little of how knowing that it has God's power behind it, and not mere human will, opens the way for its impact on our individual lives. And this, in turn, has an impact on the world.
You can find in-depth articles about Christian Science in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.