You don't have to look far to find polarization these days. From governments struggling to free citizens from extremist kidnappers, to ethnic groups filled with hate for each other. Unions opposing management. Even division between state and local governments over how to repair decaying infrastructure, such as was brought to light by the collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis, Minn. several weeks ago.
There's another bridge that can lead humanity to those desperately needed answers â€“ answers that will bridge these gaps and others. It's Christ, God's message of love for all humanity.
No bridge will unite hatred with love. Hours spent justifying why it's OK to hate someone of another race, religion, political party, or nation have a deadening effect. They bind us to a material view that sees everyone as good or evil, "them" or "us." But bridges can be built to even the hardest heart through the Christ, the spiritual understanding of our inseparability from divine Love. This is the bridge Jesus built. The Christ, which he fully expressed, is the life-link that connected Jesus with "our Father," a link that's invisible, yet there, for each of us.
Our conviction of God as Love and as an all-powerful influence in the world can do much to wipe out the mental thuggishness that divides and hates. Jesus knew well the hideous forces of hatred, but he also knew that he could trust God, the source of his life and strength. As Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "No advancing modes of human mind made Jesus; rather was it their subjugation, and the pure heart that sees God" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," pp. 360-361).
By subjugating the false ways of seeing humanity â€“ as hateful, irredeemable, divisive â€“ we bring about a separation that is essential and divinely authorized. We are lifted out of the thinking that would keep us ever at odds with one another. At the same time, divine Love shows us that we are inseparably at one through Christ, God's message of salvation for all people. This knowledge of Love arms us for the spiritual and mental tasks that will bring unity and peace.
Behind every example of entrenched hatred and unwillingness to join forces for the common good, is the lie that man â€“ the spiritual idea that each of us, male or female, represents â€“ is material and so is subject to limited mental and human resources. The fear that accompanies this belief suggests to its victims that they will gain value by degrading or destroying others â€“ whether by terrorism or defamation or by refusing to join in efforts to progress together.
The Apostle Paul faced such destructive forces many times. Still, he was able to write, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13). This spiritual strength is needed today â€“ in our prayers and our lives. To stop polarization, each of us can begin by refusing to yield to anything loveless that would divide or brutalize us. There's a hymn that captures both the strength and the gentleness of Christ and brings out each individual's value to God: "Think what spirit dwells within thee;/ Think what Father's smiles are thine;/ Think what Jesus did to win thee; ..."(Henry Lyte, "Christian Science Hymnal," No. 166).
The Christ-spirit in each of us comes with bridge-building insights, an ability to perceive our common spirituality and goodness. We activate these capacities as we stand up to hate and affirm that it is a powerless lie, a hopeless attack on God's creation.
We are helped greatly if we "think what spirit dwells within" and of the sacrifice Jesus made to win us. Each individual has this spirit, whether or not he or she has realized it. His was no small investment in the salvation of his fellow men and women. It is inevitable that at some time and in some way, all will see this to be true. Our prayers and our willingness to stand firm on the side of Love â€“ especially in the face of hatred â€“ will speed our journey to that good end.
Adapted from an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.