This comes to you from the highveld of South Africa, a country poised for a general election June 2.
At about 6,000 feet above sea level, the air is clear, sparkling, almost brittle. The Southern Cross soars across the early evening sky, with an inner beauty that suggests the fixedness, the flawless splendor, of God's universe - of His perfect creation.
Watching TV earlier in the evening, I was jolted by a news report on "pre-election jitters." They're fueled largely, it said, by the impending retirement of President Nelson Mandela, and by widespread confusion over the meaning of the freedom he worked so hard to achieve. Order, lawfulness, and self-discipline, said the report, appear to have been mislaid during the five years of euphoria marking the end of apartheid.
No one in South Africa can ignore the challenges confronting this beautiful country, I told myself as the newscast ended. But for everyone who wants to see this nation progress, it's important to understand that those vivid images of lawlessness dominating the TV screens every evening aren't the final truth. They aren't, because they do not reflect the order of God's creation.
This was mentioned in a speech given by Bishop Mvume Dandala, President of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, to the National Consultation of Church Leaders in Rustenburg. He asked that South Africans of all races proclaim the gospel with a sense of urgency and conviction.
"Now is the time," he said, "for those who call on the name of Christ to play their role in helping South Africa to find a new life for itself as it follows the way of Christ that leads us to loving God and our neighbour, and honouring God's creation."
Order is rooted in God, as the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible confirms. God created the heaven and the earth and made them "very good," thus establishing the only true, spiritual order of creation. When we understand this more clearly, things happen. It becomes clear how divine Principle governs every moment of our lives, and how God can help disarm fears about any aspect of an election.
"To grasp the reality and order of being in its Science," wrote the founder of the Monitor, "you must begin by reckoning God as the divine Principle of all that really is" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 275).
Because God is unchanging, spiritual order cannot be disrupted. Our certainty of God's order banishes the mental disorder wrought by the steady buzz about such world problems as intimidation, unscrupulous politicians, a depressed economy, devastating unemployment, and the ravages of disease.
Whatever our nationality, instead of aligning ourselves with one political party, tribe, language, racial group, we can align ourselves so firmly with the love and truthfulness advocated by Jesus, that fear cannot survive. The Bible assures: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear" (I John 4:18, New International Version).
That love is at work in individual lives. But we can't simply sit back and watch events unfold. As the Apostle Peter said, "Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled .... Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind." He also said, "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart" (I Pet. 1:13, 2:1, 1:22, New International Version).
We can love one another deeply, sincerely, consistently, only as we recognize that we dwell in Love, which is God. Love is the atmosphere of all creation. And Love's influence is always present in human consciousness. Its effect is to awaken and enlighten men and women, to energize right endeavor, to promote obedience to Principle.
In the measure that South Africans - and anyone else - acknowledge this reign of God within, they will be able to pray effectively for a just government. Perceive which candidates have the necessary qualities to lead the country. Know that God will continue to supply these leaders with the right ideas.
Bishop Dandala said so eloquently, "Let this be a moment when we shall humble ourselves before God, and challenge South Africa to do the same, so that we will know the eternal blessings of God for this land."