See the plowshare in the sword

A Christian Science perspective.

At first glance the Bible promise looks wonderfully poetic, but a bit unrealistic. Beating swords into plowshares? That’s the action plan for establishing peace among nations? Consider this from the Old Testament book of Micah: “He [God] shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (4:3). As if to press the message further into thought, the same promise – with minor variations – appears again in Isaiah. And yet again in Joel.

It takes spiritual vision to see within a sword the promise of a plowshare, or to glimpse within a spear the promise of a pruninghook. It takes keen insight to discern within an AK-47 a cuff link.

What?!

That’s no misprint. You may have heard about the charitable organizations – one based in New York and the other in Africa – that are working hard to get dangerous and illegal assault weapons off the streets of Congo. The concept is simple. First, scoop up the weapons. Break them down. Then, transform them into jewelry. Sell the jewelry at designer prices in New York and other high-end markets. Finally, use proceeds to get more weapons off the streets. Step by modest step, the prospects for a wider peace edge forward.

How does one discern within a sword the potential of a plow? How does one see within an AK-47 the promise of a peaceful neighborhood? Spiritual discernment is, in fact, indispensable. Spiritual discernment – the God-bestowed capacity to recognize His totally spiritual and peaceful creation right where a discordant and violent one appears to be – seems a rarity. It seems so easy to go through one’s days and take in only the superficial and violence-prone view of things. And yet, looking deeper with spiritual discernment doesn’t have to be the uncommon option. Because spiritual discernment, and the road to peace it uncovers, is accessible to every honest seeker for a world at peace.

In truth, peace is in accord with the Almighty’s nature, pervades the Almighty’s spiritual universe, and conforms to the Almighty’s law. His law is forever at work. Consider what might be the best known statement of His law – the First Commandment. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me." A person can read this statement, aloud and unhurried, in a mere four or five seconds. Yet it is not an overstatement to say that this law, the underlying truth of it, has been a key to every genuinely successful endeavor for peace on earth. Spiritually discern this law, and you’ve just glimpsed what could realistically transform a warrior’s weapon into a farmer’s tool. Spiritually discern this law, and you’ve just glimpsed that it is not just a command. It is a promise. You might think of it as if God had said: “I promise you, My child. You shall have no other gods before Me, because there are no others for you to have. I promise you, I am the One, the only divine presence, power, and peacemaker for you to have.”

Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy so loved this commandment, she once identified it as her favorite text. She discerned a world of good coming from obedience to it. She said, in part: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 340).

The power of this divine promise, infinitely surpassing the power of an AK-47, is forever at hand. Its transforming action is even now occurring. Plowshares are coming into view.

From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.

For a Dutch translation of this article, see The Herald of Christian Science.

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