'Understanding between the faiths'

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

"The direct rule for practice of Christian Science is the Golden Rule, 'As ye would that men should do to you, do ye' " (Mary Baker Eddy, "Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896," p. 282). That Rule appears in virtually all the world's faiths – including Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Jainism, and the Baha'i faith. More than just another adage, it's actually a living prayer for all, and an essential component in attaining peace and healing.

One example of this universal emphasis on the Golden Rule is an open letter sent last year from 138 Muslim leaders to world Christian leaders, seeking dialogue based on common ground between the two faiths. They pointed out that "the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians." The Christian Science Sentinel's "Items of Interest" section (Sept. 1) included news of an interfaith conference at Yale University in July that grew out of this appeal, attended by Muslims, Christians, and Jews – the first of four such conferences to take place around the world. The event at Yale centered especially on the shared beliefs of loving God supremely and following the Golden Rule.

The Monitor quoted the closing statement of the conference attendees: " 'Ours is an effort to ensure that religions heal rather than wound, nourish the human soul rather than poison human relations.' " And it went on to report, "Recognizing that to live together in peace, much less love one another, requires greater understanding between the faiths, the conference focused primarily on theological discussion on 'who we are and what we think' " (Aug. 4).

When people come together to work not just for peace but for healing, there's cause for great hope. And it's especially noteworthy that the concepts of identity (who we are) and mentality (what we think) should play such a prominent role at multifaith conferences, because this gets at the heart of what needs to happen if humanity is going to truly heal the world's divisions.

Christian Science explains that healing is attainable through understanding our identity as ideas of the divine Mind, coexisting harmoniously – and by putting off materialistic thoughts and motives, and developing spiritual-mindedness. Through prayer we can understand this identity that transcends race, class, and culture, and be better peacemakers and healers.

The final tenet of Christian Science states: "And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 497). In referring directly to the Golden Rule, this tenet sets it apart as representing something essential in this practice of Christian Mind-healing.

But what is it that makes the practice of this Rule potent enough to heal the world's ills? Jesus' words point to the answer. He linked it with the commandment to love God supremely. And he said that when this love of God and love of neighbor conjoin, these two greatest of commandments reveal the entire message of God's law and of biblical prophecy; moreover, they point the way to eternal life (see Matt. 22:40; Luke 10:25–28).

Even the best efforts to do well by our neighbors sometimes come up short. But when unselfish efforts are empowered by a desire to love and honor God – divine Life, Truth, and Love – they become purified, infused with a power that is neither of this world nor subject to the world's limited expectations for repaired unity and healing. This healing force is the Comforter Jesus promised would come to humanity for all time.

In restating the Golden Rule, the sixth tenet of Christian Science implies an order to its beneficial practice: first, "do unto others"; and then, let "them do unto us." Whether we're being called on to forgive, to repair and rebuild, or just to cease hostilities and talk with one another, it's the healer who takes the initiative. And we can safely leave the reciprocal response to the same power that impels the courage to take the first step.

Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel (Sept. 22).

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