Conversation at a pre-wedding dinner turned to world affairs, particularly in the Middle East. How can the cycle of violence and revenge be broken? The father of the bride became suddenly serious. “It will never be broken,” he said. End of conversation. But end of hope, too?
Not at all, but there are things going on in the world that certainly don’t inspire wide-eyed optimism. Some wonder, Are human beings programmed for war?
Or are we programmed for peace? Like “good news” stories that go underreported in the daily news cycle, the “goodness model” of existence struggles to be heard.
But the divine Science of Christ reveals that there are higher laws – divine laws – that, when understood, bring greater peace to our experience.
It’s clear that war doesn’t end through simply inventing better biotechnologies or social engineering. But there’s a wholly healing force in a perhaps surprising place: in how we think about God and His creation, about ourselves, and what we cherish as Truth.
It’s true that when the Scriptures are read literally, it’s hard to miss the images of a warlike deity. In the book of Deuteronomy, for example, one of Moses’ poems records God as saying, “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence” (32:35).
However, as Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, emphasized in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” there are differing interpretations of the Bible: literal and spiritual, doctrinal and inspired. “The Scriptures are very sacred,” she wrote. “Our aim must be to have them understood spiritually, for only by this understanding can truth be gained. The true theory of the universe, including man, is not in material history but in spiritual development” (p. 547).
Perhaps the deepest human urge is for spiritual development. This yearning shines through a New Testament passage that gives new meaning to Moses’ poem: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink. ... Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19-21).
Good necessarily overpowers evil because God, goodness itself, is supreme. Good is the only legitimate power. Evil is like a shadow: Ultimately, it can’t resist its own elimination. In interpersonal as well as international relationships, the light of Christ, the divine nature Jesus manifested, can repair connections and restore peace.
This divine influence is unconfined by biology, history, and even religion; each of us can welcome the Christ into our thought. This inspires us to respond calmly instead of to react, and to collaborate and share resources. Good overcomes evil on the collective scene as individual hearts and minds are changed.
And there are signs that people are willing to work together to break cycles of revenge, even in some of the most conflict-filled parts of the world. For instance, as a recent Monitor article highlighted, civic unity in Iraq and Tunisia – Arab democracies that have faced major religious divides in the recent past – continues to increase (see “Elections that shape identity, not just shift power,” CSMonitor.com, Sept. 13, 2019).
Such developments hint at what can happen as human knowledge yields to the divine influence that’s present in all of us.
Adapted from an editorial published in the Dec. 15, 2003, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.