How many times do you drive up to a gas station and cringe at the cost of fuel? By May this year, a record-breaking $4.00+ per gallon for gasoline became a shocking but familiar standard in the United States. The price has fallen in some areas, but it's still hovering near $4, and continues to be even higher in Europe. To millions of us, the high gasoline prices and rising food prices, as well as the economic slowdown, have become unsettling, to say the least.
No one seems to agree why this is happening, but there are lots of theories, including the belief that greed and speculation are major factors.
There's a story in the Bible that has some helpful insight on this issue. It's the story of a man named Zacchaeus (see Luke 19:1-10), a very short man, a chief tax-gatherer or publican. Zacchaeus' position enabled him to make a good living, but much of his wealth was acquired by unethical business methods.
Luke's Gospel explains that when Jesus was walking through Jericho, people were crowding one another, trying to get close to him. Zacchaeus was curious about Jesus but couldn't see him because of all the people. So he climbed up a sycamore tree for a better view. When Jesus got closer to the tree, he looked up into the branches and said, "Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house."
The crowd was taken aback that such a spiritually minded teacher would lower himself by being a guest of a sinner. But Jesus was a healer. He wasn't seeing Zacchaeus as a corrupt businessman. Instead, he must have been seeing him spiritually. As Mary Baker Eddy put it, "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pp. 476-477). The result was a transformation. Zacchaeus responded to Jesus by saying, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold."
What was it that moved this wealthy and powerful man to offer compensation to those whom he'd cheated? Jesus' clear spiritual vision must have enabled Zacchaeus to catch a glimpse of the Christ – the true idea of God and our relationship to him. This clearer and higher perspective melted away dishonesty. In the presence of divine Principle, God, his love of money and power was replaced with the love of Christ. Zacchaeus found that he wanted to be good and spiritual.
Similarly, today, instead of thinking in terms of dishonest investors or unscrupulous speculators when viewing the economy, we can choose to "behold in Science the perfect man." This man – including both male and female – is naturally honest and good, is the offspring of God, under God's law, or Science.
Thinking in these terms is prayer; it's affirming the goodness of God, divine Principle, and God's ability to bring solutions into view. Does this seem impossible in light of all the news reports about the economy and its troubles? Jesus stated clearly where we need to look for our solution. Speaking to his disciples, he said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27).
Divine Principle does not favor one and make another suffer. Rather, the loving lawfulness of God ensures that all are cared for and that no one is deprived of good.
No matter who or what seems to be driving up prices, each of us can pray to know that the presence of divine Principle is everywhere, raising standards and lowering greed. That will not only help bring the economy into balance; it will protect and guide us in our daily lives as well.
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd:
he shall gather the lambs with his arm,
and carry them in his bosom,
and shall gently lead those that are with young.