Conventions, justice, and mercy

A Christian Science perspective.

During her lifetime, Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy witnessed many elections, even the first political primaries when individual parties put up more than one candidate for consideration. She lived through the Civil War, the fallout from three presidential assassinations, and got a good look at national and local leaders of varying political views. All of these observations, plus her spiritual insight into the mental influences that can lead someone to succumb to pride, fear, dishonesty, greed, led to a very clear-eyed view of leaders and governments.

In an address she gave in 1898, she urged her listeners, “Pray for the prosperity of our country,... that justice, mercy, and peace continue to characterize her government, and that they shall rule all nations. 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).

Through the years, many have called for prayer in times of national crisis, and this only reinforces the timelessness and timeliness of Mrs. Eddy’s statements. Given the doubts about US government and Congress that many Americans have voiced, such prayer can help turn the ship of state into healthier waters.

Justice, mercy, peace, and wisdom are qualities I often look for when examining my own thoughts about government. Am I exercising justice toward government officials, or am I jumping to conclusions with only some of the facts? This is where something Christ Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount can be helpful: “Don’t condemn others, and God won’t condemn you. God will be as hard on you as you are on others!” (Matthew 7:1, 2, Contemporary English Version). A sobering thought. It naturally leads to letting one’s own desire for mercy reveal a willingness within to exercise mercy toward others.

It isn’t always easy to pull back from judging political figures, especially when it is such a national pastime! Justice and mercy, however, would argue for a kinder look at our national leaders and the officials in our local communities. That doesn’t necessarily mean approving of their policies, but it does require recognizing that each person is, in essence, the son or daughter of God. As God’s creation, you, I, and everyone are subject to the government of divine Love and the divine law articulated in the Bible. And we are sustained and strengthened by relying on Love’s law.

The Ten Commandments and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount form the core of this law, and the surrounding stories and experiences in the Bible reveal how that law can be applied to one’s daily life. To embrace these laws and let them form the essence of our thinking is to embrace justice, mercy, peace, and wisdom – and to make them our own. When they form our thoughts and prayers, they enable us to get past negative news reports or uncharitable e-mails to see the need to truly love and not condemn, to value and appreciate goodness wherever it appears, and to see this goodness as universal.

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