Not being intimidated

A Christian Science perspective: Handle fear.

Today’s headlines call on praying people everywhere not to shrink from the aggressive acts of evil so frequently reported. Rather, such news flashes demand a mental posture of prayer ready to love and defend each one’s innocence and safety as the child of God.

The Bible is filled with victories of good over evil witnessed by those who refused to be intimidated. The Psalms illustrate both the anguished cries for help to God, as well as the deep thanks expressed by those who had experienced God’s loving deliverance from every kind of enemy.

For example, Psalm 3 is a lesson in overcoming the bullying fears that try to dominate our thought and force us to cower and hope for protection. The Psalmist declares: “I am not afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around” (Psalms 3:6, New Revised Standard Version).

During college a week-long continuous rain brought flooding to the nearby Mississippi River community. Cars and homes were washing by and people were in danger, trapped in homes. Many of us were praying as strongly as we knew how, turning to God and knowing divine Love would never bring such disaster. I remember walking outside in the pouring rain, praying, along a path near the cliffs that overlooked the river. Suddenly I had this visual image of someone trying to push me over the cliffs. I realized that’s exactly what this onslaught of fear about flooding and destruction felt like – someone pushing us all over a cliff of despair. I literally said out loud, “No! I’m not going to believe this mesmerism any more that God is not in control.” With the prayers of many others, the rain stopped within a few hours, and the flooding began to subside. It was a strong lesson in the need not to be intimidated by any form of evil.

The founder of this newspaper and the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, exposed the nature of evil as hypnotic, but even more, without reality. “There is no power apart from God,” she writes. “Omnipotence has all-power, and to acknowledge any other power is to dishonor God” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 228). She based this on her discovery that God, divine Love, is all there can truly be, and this very allness precludes any other presence or power. Then she went on to prove the practicality of this understanding, this healing glimpse into a reality the New Testament calls “the kingdom of heaven,” through many healing demonstrations that were documented by eyewitnesses (see biographies such as the third volume of the trilogy by Robert Peel, “Mary Baker Eddy: Years of Authority,” Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1977).

The understanding of divine Love brings healing today, as well as protection in challenging situations. While I was preparing to study for a summer in Thessaloniki, Greece, a stranger entered my hotel room, looking as if he was intent on causing harm. After I prayed about divine Love’s presence and power – and silently declared that we were both children of God, incapable of being influenced to harm another – the man left abruptly, but not before telling me to lock the door behind him “as many men here like young American women.”

This is what it means to not be intimidated by the problem of evil, to stay alert so as not to take evil’s actions at face value as real and part of God’s creation. The Scriptures inform us that God protects His entire creation: “Aren’t five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them is overlooked by God. Even the hairs on your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6, 7, The Common English Bible).

This is the heartfelt prayer that declares wherever we are, that each child, man, and woman is right now within the protective care of the Almighty, just as I discovered in a hotel room far from home.

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Dear Reader,

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.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

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.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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