The power and peace of true brotherhood

A Christian Science perspective: Can there be a sweeter word than brother?

It was obvious my neighbor didn’t like me. He didn’t like my husband, my children, my dog, and he didn’t like my house standing next to his. I would often get threatening calls, sometimes late at night, accusing me, my family, or the dog, of everything wrong. As a Christian Scientist, I was confident there was a healing solution. I found it in the Scriptures: “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10). With that comforting thought of one Father, I began to treat him like a brother, with patience, courtesy, and compassion for whatever was making him so angry. The calls became less threatening, less frequent, and finally stopped altogether. The family soon moved out of the neighborhood and peace ruled.

Brotherhood is more than goodwill toward others, as important as that is. Christian Science points out that the great power for good that brotherhood can accomplish comes from its source, one wholly good Father, universal and omnipotent. As we begin to see our fellow man as God’s image and likeness, our recognition of his character must necessarily change. Since God is good, can His likeness be evil? God’s nature determines the nature of His sons and daughters; we are the expression of His goodness. And as we see more of that spiritual nature in ourselves, and recognize it as true of everyone, we will see more of it in others. Then, whatever is contrary to God’s harmony and goodness is recognized as a mistaken sense of man. Cultural strife, religious intolerance, or political enmity can never be the nature of man made in God’s likeness. Because God is universal, it’s not naive to think that the same power that dissolved a small neighborhood challenge can be broadened to embrace a whole world.

Abraham set the tone for brotherhood centuries ago when he and his nephew, Lot, stood before the plain of Jordan. Abraham (or Abram as he was then known) said to Lot, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren” (Genesis 13:8). Then he generously gave Lot first choice of the land, and a great conflict was avoided.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, wrote, “The foundation of mortal discord is a false sense of man’s origin” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 262). From that false sense arises suspicion, hatred, great injustices, and misunderstandings that can escalate into violence. Such conditions will not change until the thought about man’s true nature changes. The Scriptures clearly declare that man’s origin is in the one infinitely good God, as His image and likeness. Every individual who begins to perceive spiritually this inseparable relation that man has to God is taking part in the blessing of peacemaking. If a false sense of man’s origin is the foundation of discord, then a true sense must be the foundation of peace.

Those affected by the conflict in the Middle East today have a comforting promise from the Scriptures: “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). That can be regarded as a sweet promise for the future. But it can also be a wake-up call to every one of us to acknowledge a new way of thinking about man’s identity. With one universal Father, we begin to see the strong bond of brotherhood, the perception of which is pure enough to establish peace, powerful enough to end wars. When peace is the natural consequence of understanding man’s unity with God, can there be a sweeter word than brother?

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

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The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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