Recent news reports out of Syria seem to hold little hope for a peaceful solution to the conflict between government forces and opposing rebels – a conflict that has escalated to include constant bombardment, civilian deaths, and the threat of civil war.
It can be tempting to think, “This is nothing new.” Conflicts in the Middle East have been going on for thousands of years – if governments and influential institutions haven’t found solutions to end the hostilities, what can we as individuals do?
That was how I numbly thought about the Middle East – until a couple of years ago at Christmas, when I was reading the biblical account of the birth of Christ Jesus. As I read the God-sent message of “on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14), the light dawned! I realized that the message wasn’t telling of a promise yet to come at some unknown time. It was a proclamation that with the arrival of God’s promised Son came His great gift of peace on earth and goodwill among all people, right then and for all time to come.
As I continued to read about the coming of the Christ, which Mary Baker Eddy said is “the ideal Truth, that comes to heal sickness and sin ...” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 473), I found myself gently lifted out of the darkness of doubt and fear into the light of the truth about the power of God and His peace, just as Christ Jesus promised: “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me” (John 12:44-45, New International Version).
Turning to the light of the Christ, we are safe from becoming “numb” or mesmerized into thinking that a problem is unsolvable, or more powerful than God. This light overturns feelings of hopelessness and fear, and leads to solutions that bless everyone.
Mrs. Eddy described the First Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3), as her favorite text. She wrote: “It demonstrates Christian Science.... it signifies that man shall have no other spirit or mind but God, eternal good, and that all men shall have one Mind.... One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars...” (Science and Health, p. 340).
With one infinite God, good, we can expect to realize one infinite, harmonious kingdom governed by Him. In this kingdom of unity, there are no disputed boundaries, no impure motives, no prejudices, no aggressive acts of tyranny. By following Christ Jesus’ teachings to change our thinking and accept God’s kingdom of heaven, harmony, as a present reality and not an abstract hope of the future, we can expect to see a Middle East free of hopeless hostilities. We can expect to see an expanded understanding of peace that carries with it true brotherhood and mutual respect.
In the book of Matthew we find these words of Jesus: “Unless you change your whole outlook and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. It is the man who can be as humble as this little child who is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4, J.B. Phillips New Testament). A correlative passage in Science and Health shows the healing results of this childlike humility: “Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, – this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony” (pp. 323-324).
Childlike humility and receptivity allow us to leave behind the “old” belief that the Middle East is a perpetual trouble spot and gain “new” understanding that the harmony and peace of God’s kingdom is a present possibility. We can, and should, expect to see the harmony of God’s kingdom expressed as it was centuries ago, when Saul of Tarsus traveled this region. Saul was led out of the darkness of a life as a tyrannical persecutor into the light as a follower of Christ Jesus, spreading the message of universal salvation and peace.
From the Christian Science Sentinel.
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