Cans of tear gas hurled at protesters, police armed in military gear, shots fired, hearts broken – it’s difficult to accept that this sad scene is playing out just a short distance from the home of a friend of mine. For my family and me, visits to his home have always been warm and joy-filled occasions. Today these visits present a stark contrast to what has happened in the community since Michael Brown, a young man from Ferguson, Mo., was killed by a local policeman.
Some say the root of the problem is racism. The police force in Ferguson is primarily white, while the population of Ferguson is primarily African-American.
The situation has stirred me to pray, as it has many others. No one wants to see a community torn apart. As I reached out to God with the hope that the community could find peace and healing, the words of another friend of mine came to thought. She, told me of a time when someone speaking to her said, “I don’t know whether to call you African-American or black.” Ann has a quick wit, but she is also a deep, spiritual thinker. Her response was, “What if you call me Ann, and I’ll call you by your name, Joe.”
As I thought more deeply about Ann’s response, and knowing her approach to life, I realized she was urging the idea that we should honor one another’s spiritual individuality and lay physical appearances aside. With that reminder, a conviction that humanity could rise above racism began to grow in my thought. I realized that when we stop defining one another on the basis of our material characteristics, and, instead, understand and appreciate each individual’s spiritual nature, or Godlikeness – just as Christ Jesus did – racism will lose its hold.
The Bible explains that there is an unbreakable link between God and each of us. It says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). The reality of this powerful truth may at times seem to be a far cry from human experience. However, in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, explains: “Mortals are not like immortals, created in God’s own image; but infinite Spirit being all, mortal consciousness will at last yield to the scientific fact and disappear, and the real sense of being, perfect and forever intact, will appear” (p. 295).
Christ Jesus showed us that God is all good and perfect Love. Through his pure consciousness of man as God’s perfect likeness, Jesus helped others see themselves in this true light. By this means he healed lepers (see Luke 17:12-14), cast out demons (see Matthew 17:14-18), and raised the dead (see John 11:1-45).
Jesus made man’s spiritual individuality, or Godlikeness, tangible to others because he fully expressed this individuality in his own life. That was his way of loving others. He lived according to the new commandment that he taught: “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). His life of pure, unselfish love demonstrated man’s spiritual nature and presented humanity with a living example of true manhood and womanhood.
As we live up to that example, we do our part to break racism’s hold in our neighborhoods and our world. We could begin by asking ourselves some questions: Do I understand my inherent oneness with God, and everyone else’s oneness with Him? Am I willing to seek the spiritual understanding of being that will allow me to rise above selfish considerations to live according to Jesus’ “new commandment”? Do I love God and my fellow man enough to be a witness to the real, spiritual nature of everyone I meet? We can all do this because each of us is the pure, perfect image of Love. As we perceive our unity with God more clearly, we will be able to see the real, spiritual nature of all humanity.
The world has great need for healing today. Not only in Ferguson, but on every street corner around the world there is an urgent demand for humanity’s spiritual individuality to be understood and demonstrated. There are no lines drawn, dividing one spiritual idea from another. We are all united through what Mrs. Eddy calls “the indissoluble spiritual link which establishes man forever in the divine likeness, inseparable from his creator” (Science and Health, p. 491).
Man made in God’s image is magnificent. We can honor the spiritual individuality of one another and so dissolve whatever misperceptions would separate us.