Who's in charge?

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

That's a typical question, particularly these days throughout the US. Many elections determine who's in charge of government offices, from city hall to the statehouse, from Capitol Hill to the White House.

It's a time of new beginnings. But all too often people bring the same old attitude – the tendency to criticize and pass judgment on those in public office. Even when there's been no wrongdoing. You might say, well, that's politics.

When Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, was asked about her politics, she said: "I have none, in reality, other than to help support a righteous government; to love God supremely, and my neighbor as myself" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 276).

Instead of taking sides, she prayed for presidents and wrote to church members, "Pray that the divine presence may still guide and bless our chief magistrate, those associated with his executive trust, and our national judiciary; give to our congress wisdom, and uphold our nation with the right arm of His righteousness" ("Christian Science versus Pantheism," p. 14).

Why pray? First, prayer is a preemptive strike against the belief of an evil element that would undermine government and those in public office. Prayer supports the one praying and the one prayed for. It's a stronghold against unsettling patterns of thought, bringing human consciousness into accord with God's thoughts that uplift and bless. In fact, these are qualities embraced by the Monitor, which celebrates its 100th year this month.

Secondly, prayer is a means of overcoming the carnal mind's attitude of criticism and judgment. Although there's always room for constructive criticism, it can be revealing to shine light on our own thinking to determine how often we complain, criticize, and pass judgment. A spirit of criticism and judgment would mean we are never thinking the best about people, never satisfied with honest efforts, never at peace. Yet God impels us to edify, love, and be at peace with our neighbor.

Thirdly, prayer shields us from the carnal mind's delusion of grandeur that results in conceit, intellectualism, and lack of humility. Under that spell, people think they alone know what's right – for their city, country, workplace, or church. They may seek to take charge, believing others are just plain wrong. They drift into thinking evil about others. Christian Science calls this malpractice. It is corrosive to the malpractitioner – tainting the person's attitude and character.

Before converting to Christianity, Saul was certain that he was right and followers of Jesus were wrong. Saul was among those consenting to Stephen's death by stoning. Yet when he imprisoned Christians, he imprisoned himself in the dungeon of self-righteousness.

In that dark mental state, Saul was literally blinded by the light of Christ. And yielding in humility to Christ, the divine idea of God, transformed his life. He took the name of Paul, became a Christian, and replaced persecution with support for Christians. He expressed righteousness, spirituality, and humility – qualities that lift lives into serving others and lead to hope and healing.

Although the world may favor take-charge people driven by willpower, great leaders have exercised more humility than swagger. Take Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, or – much earlier – Moses, who led people by knowing God was leading and governing him.

So is it possible to know who's in charge – and be thankful? Yes, if we, like Moses, know who is truly in charge: God, the divine Principle that governs all. This governing power loves all equally and supplies the wisdom, spirituality, and humility that empower the best in each of us. This omnipotence doesn't create or maintain the fuel for destructive criticism or self-righteousness. It engulfs God's people with contentment and peace.

In the words of Revelation, "We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned" (11:17).

Adapted from The Christian Science Journal.

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