Needed: Witnesses to God’s unifying harmony and love

Judging from the headlines, bitterness, rivalry, and hatred may often seem to rule the day. But all of us can be active witnesses to recognize, take a stand for, and live God’s limitless, unifying harmony and love.

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It was 8 a.m. in a local donut shop. I sat at a table, waiting for my car to be repaired at the garage next door. After a while, looking up from my reading, I noticed something lovely. The atmosphere in this popular breakfast spot brimmed with lightness. A cashier traded jokes with some construction workers. A retiree sweetly offered his table to a mom with two toddlers. Police officers joked with a little boy. All the while, an employee kept bursting into full-throated song between orders – much to the laughter of his co-workers. Everyone was expressing such joy and kindness; it felt as if they were family.

As I watched and listened, I felt buoyed up, too. I thought, “If only the whole world could wake up each day like this!” The news reports I had been reading that morning certainly didn’t present anything like this kind of picture. I asked myself, Was this happy morning in a donut shop just an insignificant blip in the scheme of things? Or did it offer a glimpse of something deeply meaningful and genuine?

I intuitively felt that the latter was the case. Such currents of joy and lightness don’t always make headlines, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t present and ongoing.

In fact, such expressions of good, gratitude, warmth, joy, kindness, unselfishness – whether in our own neighborhoods or across oceans – point to a timeless, foundational idea I’ve come to learn about through my study of Christian Science: that we all come from one divine Parent, one supreme cause and creator. This primal source is God, who is universal, divine Love and created us as His offspring, or expression.

The Bible echoes this concept over and over, in such passages as “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10) and “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (I John 4:7).

It is precisely this spiritual reality of our oneness in divine Love that comes to the rescue when bitterness, rivalry, or hatred seem to rule the day. It empowers us to realize that we don’t need to cynically accept that a lack of love is “just the way it is.” The true nature of each of us is the spiritual image of Love, God. When this truth is better understood and taken to heart through prayer, when we refuse to be mesmerized by discord and instead take a stand for the right, healing and resolution follow.

At one point, some people dear to me became estranged from one another owing to hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Yearning to see harmony restored, I prayed about the situation, refusing to accept discord as the way things inevitably had to be.

I clung to what Christ Jesus revealed and demonstrated about our God-given capacity to love. He struck the keynote of this when he said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44, 45). Certainly no one in this case was an “enemy,” but I was inspired by this idea that even the bitterest situations can be redeemed by the love God expresses throughout His creation.

I knew several of us were praying daily along these lines. Ultimately, loving communication was restored and normalized, which continues to this day.

The woman who discovered Christian Science and founded The Christian Science Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, once wrote, “I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 250). The love that originates in God is not a scarce commodity, no matter how it seems. It is infinite, unifying, and ever present. It can be genuinely felt in the smallest of coffee shops or in the grandest halls of government. But it needs active witnesses to recognize it, take a stand for it, and live it. In this way each of us can play a part in proving that harmony, love, and joy are not one-off, random qualities, but the ever-active, universally accessible reality of being.

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Dear Reader,

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.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.