It was the day of our high-school senior picnic. I was walking down a secluded path alone, in the park where the event was to take place, looking for my classmates, when three big fellows jumped out from the bushes where they had been hiding. They were angry and wanted to fight! I was a member of a racial minority there, and the three facing me on the path were from the majority group. I was in a state of terror. What could I do? Turn and run? See it through and face the consequences?
I was a pupil in the local Christian Science Sunday School and had been taught that God is not some far-off abstraction, but infinite, unrestricted Love, the source of all peace and harmony, the Father of all. I had learned that man is God's image, the expression of His nature, His wholly spiritual offspring.
These fundamental truths taught in the Bible cross all racial and cultural lines. They are true for everyone and provide an unshakable foundation for peace between individuals and nations.
From the perspective of these truths, lasting peace is not just the absence of confrontation or warfare. Peace is really based on the understanding of God and of man's relationship to Him. The Bible tells us, ``Acquaint now thyself with him [God], and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.''1
All this may sound pretty impractical when you're facing three tough guys that are spoiling for a fight on an isolated path in a park. But this was exactly what I was thinking about in an effort to deal with the panic I felt.
Just then, two of them grabbed me and threw me down on the lawn. There was a pause to see what exactly I would do. I prayed with an intensity I had never before known. I felt the love of God in complete charge of the situation.
At this point I got up and smiled. I saw clearly that regardless of what they did to me, my duty was to declare God's presence and might, to acquaint myself with Him and be at peace.
After several moments of eloquent silence, the people that had attacked me smiled too. This was no ``put on,'' but a genuine gesture of respect and caring. The war was over!
All of them said that they had never known that I was such a good sport. A confrontation had been turned into a friendship. Needless to say, this has been a lesson that I will never forget.
God's guidance, protection, and peace are not abstract, impractical things. They are tangible realities, expressions of His unending love for all.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, saw that peace could never be achieved as long as a ``they against us'' attitude prevailed. She writes: ``God is Father, infinite, and this great truth, when understood in its divine metaphysics, will establish the brotherhood of man, end wars, and demonstrate `on earth peace, good will toward men.'''2
Christ Jesus, the master Christian, said, ``Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.''3 In a sense, that's what I was in that park so many years ago--a ``peacemaker''--and this had a beneficial effect on everyone involved.
As we each in our own way make the understanding of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man the basis of our living, we can actively participate in waging peace instead of war.
1Job 22:21. 2The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 279. 3Matthew 5:9. Daily Bible Verse: Be at peace among yourselves....See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
I Thessalonians 5:13, 15