A friend and I went to the movies shortly after the 2016 presidential election in the United States and unwittingly fell into a discussion about politics, a subject generally acknowledged to be off-limits in polite conversation! Before I knew what was happening, the conversation spiraled out of control, and neither of us was very happy with the results.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a common scene across the globe as we all work to find a more lasting peace, security, and prosperity. It often seems that voicing opinions is taking the place of listening or carefully weighing facts to find answers – whether it be among politicians or just two friends.
But amid all the different commentaries and opinions that parade around as truth, I’ve found that there’s a deeper sense to be gained of what’s true. It takes thoughtful observation, listening, and, above all, spiritual discernment. Referring to God as divine Principle, the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, explains: “Human opinions are not spiritual. They come from the hearing of the ear, from corporeality instead of from Principle ...” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 192). Christian Science identifies Truth – with a capital “T” – as a synonym for God. Truth is universal, spiritual, and pure, because God is. Divine Truth is not divisive, but inspires unity with our neighbor, revealing our true identity not as mortals with conflicting opinions, but as God’s loved and loving spiritual creation.
Each of us has an inherent ability to discern what is right and good, and to be guided by the universal and only God. But it requires a willingness to silence our human will and yield to a higher, spiritual sense of Truth – to express something of the humility witnessed in the life of Christ Jesus.
For instance, once Jesus was confronted by a band of angry men ready to stone a woman whom they accused of adultery (see John 8:1-11). They asked him, “Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” Unperturbed, instead of weighing in with a personal view on what should take place, Jesus didn’t answer immediately. When he was pressed, his reply was thought-provoking: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” By refusing to engage in a heated debate about what should be done, and instead turning to a higher sense of right – letting God lead – Jesus enabled reformation, rather than fueling more anger and indignation. The men walked peacefully away without harming the woman, whom Jesus then addressed compassionately.
These ideas proved helpful to me in the situation with my friend. Later that weekend, taking a humbler approach, I called her. As I listened to her voice her deep concerns about the future, I found a way to defuse her fear, rather than fanning it with counterarguments.
As we make our way through 2017 (and beyond), we don’t need to let our opinions get the better of our inherent, spiritual tendency to love our friends and others with whom we come into contact. We can let Paul’s words from the Bible inspire the way we speak with all our neighbors: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (I Corinthians 13:4-6, English Standard Version).