A healing response to extremism
The hatred, anger, and fear that fuel extremism can seem unstoppable. But as a community experienced when the threat of a violent demonstration loomed, there’s something more powerful: God’s limitless love, which brings healing peace to light.
Reading the news, scrolling through social media, or talking with friends and family, it’s clear there’s a concern that extremism, hatred, resentment, revenge, and fear are inevitable and unstoppable. But if we look deeper, is it possible to find something more compelling and more powerful than these sentiments and their negative influence?
Through my study of Christian Science, I’ve found that there is something more powerful. It’s divine Love. This Love is God, and it is the most powerful force there is. It’s all-encompassing. There is no extremism in this Love. There’s no conditionality, fickleness, or false hope about it. It’s infinite good. Its strength and protecting power are perfectly balanced with its gentleness, tenderness, and peace.
The mission of Christ Jesus was to tell about and show us this Love. During a time of political and religious extremism, Jesus showed that our relation to God, Love, is like that of a parent and child. God is our heavenly Father-Mother, and we – all of us – are created in divine Love’s spiritual likeness. Divine Love could never subject us to anything unloving, including illness, fear, or hate.
This spiritual reality underlies the inherent ability we each have to express the balance of divine Love in all we do and say and to experience the healing God’s love brings to us and to those around us, countering extremist or hateful thoughts and acts.
About a year and a half ago, a large white supremacist demonstration was scheduled to begin on a Sunday morning less than two blocks from the Church of Christ, Scientist, I attend. A counter demonstration was being organized to confront this group. Law enforcement anticipated violence between the two groups.
Along with other members of the extensive faith community in our city, my church resolved to address this situation in the spirit of Christ. We decided to hold our Sunday service as normal that morning, and prayed to recognize divine Love’s power to counteract and prevent acts of hatred and violence. We also resolved that if anyone came into the church, they would only be met with love and Christly compassion.
The Bible Lesson that morning spoke to the power of divine Love, which expresses itself throughout all creation. For instance: “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5), and “This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (I John 3:23).
Peace, joy, and love permeated the service. Though we were all aware of the prognosis for the situation, there was never an expression of fear.
Following the service, we found out that the hundreds of white supremacists who were expected to demonstrate didn’t materialize. The few who did come left within minutes. There was no violence, and the entire situation was defused before it began. Many in our church and beyond saw this as evidence of the power of divine Love.
Jesus 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: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44, 45).
Jesus himself lived this, with healing effect. For instance, when people were so filled with jealousy, hatred, and resentment that they wanted to push him off a cliff, Jesus’ understanding of the all-power of God’s love enabled him to walk through the angry mob to safety. He left his example so that we, too, could prove the power of divine Love.
Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, was a follower of Christ Jesus and experienced the healing power of divine Love in her life. In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she points to the power of divine Love to dissolve “error,” or that which is unlike Love: “In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, – self-will, self-justification, and self-love, – which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death” (p. 242).
It is possible to know and feel the Love that is God, which counters extremist tendencies, bringing to light peace, love, and joy.