A recent Monitor editorial, “A lesson on UN peacekeeping – from Haiti,” speaks to the positive effects UN peacekeepers have had in Haiti since 2004. Using an approach called “community violence reduction,” gang members have been confronted in a fresh way. They are being offered other possible options to their criminal activities – “embracing rather than jailing them.”
This “embrace” that is changing lives in Haiti indicates that the potential for good and success is inherent in everyone – including gang members. Over the years my understanding of my own and others’ inherent goodness has deepened through the study and practice of Christian Science.
Grounded in the teaching and healing works of Christ Jesus, Christian Science teaches that the true nature of everyone is completely spiritual and good. This is based on the premise that God, the divine Spirit that is infinite good, has created each of us as His image and likeness. This means that our spiritual identity is not limited by human opinion, education, environment, or past mistakes.
Jesus healed and changed lives by showing others that their divine nature had always been incorruptible and inseparable from God. With a constant deep awareness that, as God’s children, each of us has been given the full measure of goodness, he was able to say, “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
A well-known example of this in the Bible is that of the man who became known as the Apostle Paul. For me, his story has always been a shining light of the power and possibility of God to show each of us our capabilities for good no matter how buried they seem.
Saul, as he was called before his transformation, was consumed with so much hate for those who followed Christ Jesus’ teachings that he felt it was his mission to wipe them out. Saul’s anger and self-righteousness, along with the actions that sprang from them, were brought to a halt one day when he had a revelation telling him of his real purpose to bless.
Christian Science explains this revelation as the eternal Christ, the message of God's limitless, all-powerful love for each of us, that always speaks directly to us. It must have revealed to Saul something of his real identity as entirely good, because it transformed him. His name was changed to Paul, and he went on to become one of the most important figures in Christianity through his writing, preaching, and healing works.
Humbly speaking of himself, Paul said, “whatever I am now it is all because God poured out such kindness and grace upon me – and not without results: for I have worked harder than all other apostles, yet actually I wasn’t doing it, but God working in me, to bless me” (I Corinthians 15:9, 10, The Living Bible).
His example goes to show that no one is excluded from the reforming message of God’s love. It guides us into the spiritual understanding of our true being and this shows us how to love both ourselves and others – changing lives and bringing healing. This understanding is actually a scientific fact based on the spiritual law that the all-good God can only create good.
“A knowledge of the Science of being develops the latent abilities and possibilities of man. It extends the atmosphere of thought, giving mortals access to broader and higher realms,” writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and the founder of this publication (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 128).
Prayer is more confident when it’s based on the understanding that everyone’s goodness is established by their relationship to God. Evil can’t penetrate the presence of God, who is all good, anymore than darkness can enter where light is shining.
As we embrace this spiritual understanding of ourselves and others, we naturally contribute toward reformation, usefulness, and progress.