Extinguishing tensions of conflict
A Christian Science perspective: Praying to relieve tensions in North Korea.
As tensions have increased between North Korea and the rest of the world, many people are praying for answers. As a Christian Scientist, my prayers begin by considering the nature of God as the omnipotent source of universal love and goodness, who always cares for His creation. Time and again, I have seen that God provides insights that lead to solutions to problems, and I am praying to see that this can include solutions to problems as frightening as nuclear conflict.
I have been inspired by this idea articulated by Christian Science Discoverer Mary Baker Eddy: “The pent-up elements of mortal mind need no terrible detonation to free them. Envy, rivalry, hate need no temporary indulgence that they be destroyed through suffering; they should be stifled from lack of air and freedom” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 356).
I see this as a command to say “No!” to the indulgence of any pent-up elements of a “destructive” or “mortal mind.” It is an idea that turned me from the contemplation of “What will happen if tensions escalate?” to a deep desire to understand how I could be a part of the solution to stifle pent-up negative and destructive elements of thought by refusing them air or freedom.
Certainly, “stifling” doesn’t mean ignoring the problem. And it requires more than a vague hope that cooler heads will prevail, and that governments of the world will refuse to react to or with provocation. It must even mean more than diplomatic sanctions, even if these may be a temporary means to deter conflict.
To effectively counteract destructive “mortal” or “fleshly” elements, the Bible speaks of bringing our thoughts into accord with Christ, the spirit of God, divine Love: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:3-5).
This helped me see that the real enemy is not a person, country, or nuclear weapons program. The enemy is a mental state of envy, rivalry, hate, and fear. And if that is the case, then we are not dealing with a problem we are helpless to affect. Each of us can contribute something to dismantling conflict by casting envy, rivalry, and hatred out of our own hearts and minds.
Paul makes it clear in his letter to the Corinthians that we do this by actively letting our thought be guided by God. The “flesh,” or physical force, isn’t the underlying reality of the problem – thought is. And thoughts from God, divine Love, naturally counteract thoughts of envy, rivalry, and hatred. They pull down the strongholds of human will, self-justification, and fear with the assurance that God’s will for all of His dear children is infinite good. We have no need to fight for a share of finiteness when we understand that God is infinite, giving everyone all good every moment.
God’s thoughts silence “what if” imaginations or morbid fascination with destruction – and focus our thinking on the “what is” reality of God, Spirit, as indestructible Life and Truth. Mortal mind has no power to exalt itself against the knowledge of God. God is omnipotent and governs His spiritual creation perfectly. Being All-in-all, the divine Mind holds every individual as its own loved idea and governs the universe in accord with its wise knowing and being. In reality, this means that there is no mortal mind with pent-up elements, because God is the one infinite Mind.
As we understand this and pray to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5), we are doing much to counteract the underlying thought behind conflict. A fire is extinguished not by letting the coals smolder, and certainly not by feeding it with oxygen and more fuel. It is smothered by being deprived of these elements. So, too, the pent-up elements of envy, rivalry, and hate are extinguished by letting “the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16) govern our thoughts and actions.