That risky First Commandment
A Christian Science perspective on daily life.
To look at the world these days is to see many opportunities that also seem filled with risk. These include establishing peace in the Middle East, finding stability among global financial markets, and eliminating terrorism. These goals often seem almost impossible to achieve. Yet, there is reason for hope.
To help the world reach a better place – and to defeat evil's devious ways – we can find guidance in a communion address Mary Baker Eddy gave in 1896. At one point she said, starkly: "Evil was, and is, the illusion of breaking the First Commandment, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me:' it is either idolizing something and somebody, or hating them: it is the spirit of idolatry, envy, jealousy, covetousness, superstition, lust, hypocrisy, witchcraft" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 123).
Evil, in the form of the carnal mind, encourages fear and hatred by arguing that we are helpless victims – of vile and selfish rulers, irresponsible businesses, all-powerful marketers, manipulative global speculators of the ignorant, envious, and superstitious. Evil suggests that our only hope is to cover our heads and wait passively for our salvation or our doom. That any effort to break its grip on our thoughts or lives is much too risky.
This misleading message is sometimes reinforced by reports or political jockeying that tends to encourage a sense of crisis, rather than promote reasoned thinking on how we can achieve peace, stabilize societies, and help meet people's needs. These and other situations cry out for healing. And when we see them as opportunities to heal rather than as merely administrative or legal problems to solve, there will be deeper healing and more inspired solutions.
Jesus' life and ministry provide powerful examples of this deeper healing. When the scribes and Pharisees presented him with a woman caught breaking the Jewish law by committing adultery, he knew the severe penalty she faced – death by stoning. But he went beneath that surface solution to establish peace, redeem the woman, and bring the self-righteousness of the leaders to light. He could do this because of his obedience to the First Commandment and the knowledge that all people are children of God and inseparable from His love.
To face the evils of our day, we, too, need to trust the First Commandment. Sometimes we may feel under pressure to focus on anything but God – on hating this evil ruler or putting all our trust in one who might not be the best choice, or on favoring one ethnic group over another. Some urge the idolatry of leaders to the point of worship. Others urge hatred and violence.
How can we steer our prayers through these and other messages that may be weighed down by personal or national agendas? The First Commandment is the best Global Positioning System in the universe, and provides a sure way to the truth. Letting God, the infinitely intelligent Mind, guide us renews a conviction in His omnipotence.
Prayer that actively resists any attempt to replace God with something else restores the balance in our lives. It opens our eyes to see how divinity can transform our being, uplifting and purifying it, to bring about solutions to the specific problem we're praying about. And we gain a stronger conviction that love, not hatred or frenzied adulation, will bring peace and freedom to us – and to the world.
Is this easy? Look what Jesus faced. Yet even before his resurrection, he was so sure of our Father's power, he could tell his disciples, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
This same presence of the Christ speaks to hearts everywhere. Each moment Christ calls us "out of darkness into his marvellous light" (I Pet. 2:9). That light destroys evil by revealing its powerlessness in the face of omnipotent Love.