''Wars and rumours of wars'' n1 are often in the news today. What motivates fighting? Perhaps there's a desire for recognition, for prestige in the world. An individual may fight out of loyalty to his native country, or a nation when its honor is in danger.
n1 Matthew 24:6
Most people agree that it's honorable and natural to stand up for one's right and punish the evildoer. That was Peter's feeling when his Master was taken prisoner: he ''smote the high priest's servant.'' But Jesus did not approve and told him to put up his sword. What a revolutionary reaction from a victim of cruel force! n2
n2 See John 18:10,11.
Jesus was practicing the teaching he presented in his Sermon on the Mount: ''Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, 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.'' n3
n3 Mathew 5:43,44
Jesus' commandment was not just to love our friends, which is usually easy, but to love our enemies - which can be awfully hard. This love requires fighting , but the fight is with ourselves; it's against our own misconceptions about man.
Christian Science stresses the fundamental facts of man's origin. It starts with the generally accepted Christian position that the First Cause is God, who is Spirit. This wholly good creator is also Love, as the Bible tells us. Therefore the God-created man - and is there any other if God is the First Cause of all? - is the offspring of Love. It's important that we want to understand this; also, that we do our utmost to live in accord with our true spiritual nature in spite of the common belief that man is an often selfish and wicked mortal, created by other mortals. As we soon discover, this living of our true nature requires a real inner fight.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, encourages us when she writes, ''Be of good cheer; the warfare with one's self is grand.'' n4 But how can any warfare be grand? The ''warfare with one's self'' leads us to discover more and more of what we really are, the offspring of God, forever reflecting the perfect spiritual qualities of our heavenly Father. Think of the promise in Mrs. Eddy's statement, ''The perfect man - governed by God, his perfect Principle - is sinless and eternal''!n5
n4 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 118.
n5 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 304.
Accepting this, and beginning to understand it, may take a good deal of humility and prayer. But then we'll be prepared to take the next step: to recognize that if this is true of man, this ''perfect man'' is the actual, God-created identity of everybody, including the one we think of as our enemy. Looking at this so-called enemy as a partner in the brotherhood of man has a calming effect on the aroused passions. Instead of stressing what separates us, we now are willing to look at what unites us - our original being as children of God.
You and I and all God's children are individual, because we each uniquely express the infinite individuality of the divine nature. And because this is the spiritual fact of our being, there is room for the complete unfoldment of God's qualities - intelligence, vitality, love, and so on - in everyone. No need to fight each other - God provides opportunities for everybody. But again, we may have to fight ourselves in order to learn this and to become more forbearing and peace-loving. Doing this even turns the fight against our enemy into a fight for our enemy, liberating him from the misconception we harbored.
Such spiritually enlightened thinking becomes a bridge of understanding, changing our attitude toward other cultures and ways of living. We see the charm of the great variety of God's offspring and recognize that harmful human traits don't belong to real individuality. Our enlightened vision will do much toward preventing human conflicts and bringing to light practical solutions. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Be not conformed to this world. but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12.2