Achieving reconciliation

A Christian Science perspective: A response to the practical lessons learned from German-Israeli friendship.

We see countless opportunities for reconciliation throughout the world – not just on an individual level, but on a global one. Sometimes it can seem that differences are too deep, or history is too violent, or that the harm inflicted has been too great, for harmonious relations to be restored.

But we also see evidences that genuine reconciliation, even in the face of incredibly dark history, is indeed possible. The Monitor’s Editorial Board recently noted that the present German-Israeli relationship is an example of this. The friendship those nations have today – which was inconceivable in the aftermath of the Holocaust – is a “remarkable” one that serves as an important model for other people, groups, and nations struggling with conflict and hate (“Fifty years on, practical lessons from German-Israeli friendship,” CSMonitor.com).

This model of reconciliation, as the Monitor editorial pointed out, takes work, and a forward-looking approach – learning from the lessons of the past, while also progressing.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, understood in a deep, spiritual way the significance of looking in the right direction. Looking up, as Christ Jesus did, to the supreme source – God, the divine Mind, which is Love – is what allows us to find peace and reconciliation. “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy’s seminal work, says, “Jesus aided in reconciling man to God by giving man a truer sense of Love, the divine Principle of Jesus’ teachings, and this truer sense of Love redeems man from the law of matter, sin, and death by the law of Spirit, – the law of divine Love” (p. 19).

To me, this passage gets at the very heart of true reconciliation: lifting our thought above material circumstances to God, Spirit, recognizing that we are all God’s children, made in the very image of divine Love. A true understanding of Love as God transforms thought, bringing a deeper realization of God’s allness and goodness, as Christ Jesus proved throughout his healing ministry. We, too, can demonstrate the practicality of understanding the reconciling power of divine Love for ourselves and the world.

In my own experience, I was once involved in running a competitive sports team with two other individuals. Disagreements soon arose with one of the other women, and our exchanges became antagonistic. Ultimately, we stopped collaborating and acted unilaterally rather than together. I knew it was going to be a very unpleasant year if things continued like that.

I realized that I was thinking a lot of unhelpful things – that this person was disrespectful and selfish, for instance – and that I needed to pray more deeply about our true nature as God’s children. In spiritual reality, we were both made in the image of the same God – the only God – harmonious and good. I certainly didn’t have to love the hostility this individual had expressed toward me. But as I stopped defining her by that behavior, instead seeing her true nature as spiritual, good, and loving, I realized that inharmony and antipathy aren’t as real or lasting as they might seem. In fact, they don’t really belong to any of us because we are the offspring of God. The self-justification and ill will in my own thought were replaced by a deeper sense of love.

This was a turning point for me, and when I next saw this person, I was able to calmly initiate a conversation with her. The whole situation shifted, and we had a very harmonious and successful year working together.

This experience, though modest, showed me clearly how powerful divine Love is in reconciling our thought to God. Although in this particular case, my prayers involved a situation I was a part of, the spiritual truths of man’s goodness and harmony are applicable to larger world issues. This is because true reconciliation is not personal; it has to do with the dawning of thought that sees everyone’s true, spiritual identity as divine Love’s image – as loving.

We can support reconciliation in the world through our prayers, letting the truth about man as the loving and harmonious reflection of God fill our own thought. Such prayer supports progress with our neighbors both individual and national; it does this by abiding in a truer sense of Love’s reforming and unifying grace, which goes out into the world to heal.

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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.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.