Finding peace at election time
A Christian Science perspective: How can we pray about elections?
There was no going to the voting booth for Jesus and his countrymen. The government they lived under was tyrannical, unjust, and often brutal, and there was nothing most people could do about it. Yet Christ Jesus, the promised Messiah, or Savior, said to all who would follow his teachings and emulate his example of healing: "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).
The prophecies of a coming Messiah had been known for centuries. Many expected the Messiah to be a political savior, a king who would deliver the Hebrews from political bondage. In fact, on one occasion, after Jesus fed 5,000 people with a few loaves and fishes, the people decided he must be the Messiah, and they wanted to forcibly make him their king. But he perceived their intentions and retreated to a mountain by himself before they could take him (see John 6:14, 15).
If one understands the Christ as spiritual light, it's apparent that the salvation that Christ brings is not political. It is deeply spiritual and individual, though it’s a promise that extends to all mankind. It isn’t helped or hindered by the direction of our country or our world, because it takes place in our own consciousness and life. Salvation involves discovering day by day the unity that each of us has with God as a child of God – a discovery that brings the outward fruits of spiritual transformation, physical healing, and increasing harmony in our lives.
True peace comes from looking beyond what the physical senses perceive, to discern the divine, spiritual reality that Jesus knew and taught, and proved in his healing works. In everything he did, he showed that in reality God was governing, and that the understanding of that truth brought the proofs of it.
This peace is accessible to each of us, as we pray to understand that God is what the Bible says He is – divine Love – and that He is indeed governing all of us, because we are forever His offspring, the expression of His being. He created us to express spiritual goodness, harmony, intelligence, and freedom. God’s purpose for us is good, and God is the Mind that unfolds and fulfills that purpose.
Prayer brings these truths to light, and brings God’s harmonious government into our thoughts and lives. Through prayer, and being watchful of the trend of our thoughts, we’re able to let go of any envy, rivalry, anger, hatred, or fear that might try to rule our thoughts and disturb us. We’re able to cultivate more forgiveness, patience, trust in God, and spiritual love for others, a love that enables us to better perceive everyone’s true identity and nature as God’s expression.
This spiritual progress brings a wonderful influx of peace, and a growing confidence in divine Love’s unchanging care for all. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes: “The right thinker abides under the shadow of the Almighty. His thoughts can only reflect peace, good will towards men, health, and holiness” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 210).
None of this means the outcome of an election – in whichever country it may be held – doesn’t matter, or that we should stoically ignore the issues involved. But it’s helpful to realize that the true, lasting peace that Jesus promised doesn’t depend on an election. It comes through our developing spiritual understanding and the growing Christliness of our character.
As spiritual light, or Truth, shines in individual human thought, mankind collectively is benefited by this light, which blesses and transforms. It’s as if we walked into a dark room with a candle; there would be light for everyone in the room. The Truth Jesus taught and lived brings healing and regeneration, and these are what forward the progress humanity so deeply needs, if we’re to have a better society and better leaders. “The characters and lives of men,” writes Mrs. Eddy, “determine the peace, prosperity, and life of nations” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 277).
This election season, in addition to voting, we all have the opportunity to pray for more of the spiritual peace that Christ bestows, and for a better understanding of God’s ability to guide all nations to greater wisdom and peace.