Hundreds of people have lost their lives, and tens of thousands have been left homeless because of the standoff between Russia and Georgia. Some believe that the conflict was started by Georgia's leader, who took military action against the breakaway province South Ossetia, while others believe that it was instigated by the Russian president.
While trying to understand all the ramifications of such international flare-ups, many people turn to their Bibles to guide their prayers. One approach is to start with the Ten Commandments. The first record of these commandments may be centuries old, but their value is timeless: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain…. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy…. Honour thy father and thy mother…. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness…. Thou shalt not covet…." (Ex. 20:3-17).
The spiritual significance of each of these commandments appears in some way as the governing law of most of the world's people, whatever religion they follow. Using these spiritual ideas as a framework for thinking about our relations with others can resolve all conflicts from the personal to the international. Spiritually based solutions will protect and in the long run bless the individual citizen as well as the nation. They will endure and bring lasting peace.
Christ Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments this way when someone asked him which one was the most important: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law...." (Matt. 22:37-40).
Accepting that "to love" is the law, our prayers can recognize that this law is able to govern all peoples and nations, including the Georgians and Russians and everyone else involved in this conflict. Our prayers can honor the law of divine Love by recognizing God's guidance as events in that part of the world move forward. Only the law of Love, expressed in our lives as we forgive our enemies and love both them and ourselves, can prevent tense situations from escalating into broader conflicts.
This is not as hard to do as one would think, because the real status of each of us is spiritual, made in the image and likeness of God (see Gen. 1:26). As the likeness of God, who is divine Love, we cannot fail to reflect and express Love. It is natural to love God and our neighbor, wherever and whoever that neighbor might be. And it is unnatural not to love.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "This text in the book of Ecclesiastes conveys the Christian Science thought, especially when the word duty, which is not in the original, is omitted: ... 'Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: love God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole of man in His image and likeness' " (p. 340).
To love God and our fellow humans is more than fulfilling a duty. It is being our own true selves. Because it is the real nature of humankind to love, we can support in prayer the spiritual fact that those involved in any controversy are made by God to ultimately love their neighbors as themselves.
While this obviously may not be easy for those who are dispossessed of their homes or have lost loved ones in this conflict and others, it can be done. To love is natural to the spiritual man; to hate is unnatural.
Prayers recognizing that love is the spiritual law of the Ten Commandments, the law we all are under, will help those involved regain this natural capacity to love. This is the only lasting solution to all of earth's problems, including the task of finding a healing answer to the struggle between Russia, Georgia, and the breakaway provinces.