Recently, the Al Shabab terrorist group – the militants who attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, over a year ago – has called for attacks on shopping malls across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom (see “Al Shabab threatens malls: How prepared are US security firms?” CSMonitor.com). No specific information has been uncovered, but it raised a question for me: Do we have to accept hatred and threats to our well being as a new norm?
To answer this question I turned to God in prayer. This prayer didn’t involve begging God for mercy. It involved getting a clear understanding of what God is, and what our relation to Him is. I’ve learned from my study of Christian Science that praying in this way can lead us to answers, protection, and healing.
The Scriptures inform us that we are made in God’s image (see Genesis 1:27). That means the nature of every man, woman, and child must express God’s nature. What is this nature? The Bible says, “God is love” (I John 4:8, 16). As His creation, we are the children of Love. As we grow in the understanding of this reality through prayer, God’s love illuminates our lives and becomes a practical help. Love’s presence blesses our lives and touches the lives of others, as well, with the brotherhood and peace that are the law of God’s creation. Under the law of divine Love – that infinite Love, which is universal – hate has no actual presence in the heart or mind of anyone. Thus the hatred and brutality that lie at the core of terrorism have no Godly power or basis to support them. When we come to understand that God is infinite, omnipotent, and omnipresent, we begin to feel a natural and genuine love for all of God’s creation – even those who appear to be enemies.
Mary Baker Eddy, discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this newspaper, put it this way. Speaking of God, she wrote, “He is divine Principle, Love, the universal cause, the only creator, and there is no other self-existence” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 331). If God is the only creator, then hatred – which is completely foreign to divine Love – has no actual creator, no existence, and no real origin. Hatred is no part of God’s spiritual creation, in which everyone is pure, innocent, and cherished by Him.
The Bible records a time when the people of Judah and Jerusalem faced a threat from several armies in their surrounding area set on destroying them. When King Jehoshaphat prayed, God told them, “Be not afraid nor dismayed” (II Chronicles 20:15), and the armies destroyed themselves before they reached the people of Judah and Jerusalem (see II Chronicles 20:1-23).
When faced with threats, we can help disarm hatred by filling our hearts with trust in God, divine Love. Recognizing the power of Love, even in a degree, dissolves our fear. With this new understanding we see more evidence of God’s continuous guidance right at hand, keeping us safe from danger. As the Bible shows, the action of truth in thought can have an effect, as well, in protecting populations.
Threats do not come from God, divine Love. And because Love really is everywhere, we can call upon God whether we’re in our homes, running daily errands, or traveling to another country. Love’s power is always at hand to comfort, liberate, and save. As we grow in our understanding of Love, we can rest safely in it, and find the peace Christ Jesus promised from the depths of his own understanding of God: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).