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Beads and the Beam

Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life.

One morning I joined a busload of citizens who planned to visit the California state capitol to attend a committee hearing in the legislature. Our concern centered on a specific bill affecting a large segment of the population. The injustice of the bill seemed obvious to us.

Aboard were a few retirees like myself, several zealous young students who chattered about political events with real comprehension, and other people who appeared to fit into no special category. A bearded young man caught my eye. Wearing beads, braids, and torn denims that proclaimed nonconformity, he seemed defiant. I resolved to avoid him.

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Then it occurred to me that I had prayed about going on this excursion. Justice is a law of God, I knew. I study the Bible daily in a continuous effort to learn more about God's government of His creation, and about the laws behind this government. The Bible doesn't encourage us to look down on anyone. In the very beginning, according to Genesis, man was made in the image of God (see 1:27). All through the Bible, God's nature as perfect love, truth, and intelligence is vividly described. If we accept that we reflect these qualities as His image, our perspective is vastly improved. And we are less prone to snap judgments.

I saw I must consider everyone, legislators and citizens, as children of God, obedient to God, and cherished by God. If it often doesn't appear that this is the case, we can remember that Jesus Christ healed ten lepers, fed a hungry multitude, and restored a demented man, all in accordance with God's law, which he clearly understood -- and all in contrast to the way things appeared. He impressed upon his hearers the First Commandment of worshiping God with one's whole heart, and its corollary of loving one's neighbors. Could I obey this and still be a political protester? Did I honestly include everyone on the bus and in the legislature as God's sons and daughters?

While we waited for our turn to speak, the bill's proponents voiced untrue statements. My group was grudgingly given a brief moment of attention, and we felt scorned and belittled. I could hardly believe it. One committee member who had promised to back us up did not. We met ignominious defeat.

Back on the bus, right beside me sat the young man. I ignored him.

Finally he commented about further actions we might take. I listened with growing respect. I found that he played classical violin and participated in a civic group I supported. How misleading my first impression had been!

This brought to mind Jesus' instruction to cast the beam of judgment out of one's own eye before judging anyone else (see Matthew 7:1-5). Willingness to improve our thinking, to be receptive to another viewpoint, and to have affection for others can help.

My answer to prayer, though not the committee vote I wanted, had been a higher concept of my fellowman as reflecting qualities from God that cannot be obscured by superficial appearances. This young man became a friend who invited me to his concerts more than once.

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I had to pray for peace, after seeing the apparent indifference of some legislators and the corruption of others. But nothing in human life, I came to see, can prevent us from understanding and experiencing God's government. Jesus fulfilled his mission regardless of Roman tyranny.

Our prayers to do God's will can benefit our environment. Through them, we discover new avenues of usefulness. I found it helpful to practice being less critical and to look around me for evidences of good, which are of God. They're everywhere, I found.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the laws of God, Christian Science, wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "He that touches the hem of Christ's robe and masters his mortal beliefs, animality, and hate, rejoices in the proof of healing --- in a sweet and certain sense that God is Love" (p. 569). I found this to be true, and gaining this certainty relieved me of tension headaches and anxiety.

Through God's guidance, anyone can find something better than the imperfections of human existence. This is cause for rejoicing.

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