Not standing aghast at evil

A Christian Science perspective: Following God’s commandments – loving Him and our neighbor – enables us to overcome evil with good.

Which astonishes us more – good or evil? Or, to put it another way, when we hear about terrible acts of violence, do we react with a kind of helpless and shocked fatalism, or do we take a step back and mentally re-anchor ourselves with a conviction of the power of humanity’s capacity to respond by living love more? It’s a question worth asking, particularly at moments when news events send shock waves through a community or a country. As global onlookers, our response matters.

The Bible frames it as a life-and-death choice: “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; ... blessing and cursing: therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19).

How do we choose life and good? The same passage gives us three key instructions: Love God, walk in His ways, and keep His commandments. These commandments help to deepen our understanding of God, our relationship to Him, and our relationship to all of His sons and daughters. Christ Jesus summed up the ancient law this way: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

But how do we love our neighbor who has broken one of God’s commandments, such as “Thou shalt not kill”? How do we love God if it appears He has forsaken one – or many – of His children?

When faced with such a situation, Christ Jesus emphatically chose good, setting a standard for all Christians. On the cross, he forgave those who had crucified him – demonstrating the triumph of love over hate. By his resurrection, he proved the permanence of life and the powerlessness of death. Jesus’ fundamental conviction, backed up by the proof of his own resurrection, was that the reality of love was always greater than hate. Why? Because God, the unlimited power of the universe, is Love.

Is not this astonishing?

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded The Christian Science Monitor, wrote: “We may well be astonished at sin, sickness, and death ... and still more astounded at hatred, which lifts its hydra head, showing its horns in the many inventions of evil. But why should we stand aghast at nothingness?” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 563).

The Ten Commandments, if seen as human rules and dependent on mortals for enforcement, are admittedly apt to fail. But when perceived as spiritual laws, revealed and upheld by divine Principle, they become a refuge and a fortress. This protecting power is described beautifully in the 91st Psalm as our Father-Mother God giving “his angels charge over [us], to keep [us] in all [our] ways” (verse 11).

This Almighty giver of life is even now comforting and guiding the slain and those who love them, sheltering them under Her wings. That eternal life is far more astonishing than anything evil would claim to do to it.

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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.

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