Healing division through prayer
A Christian Science perspective: On overcoming divisiveness and animosity.
Many people are deeply concerned about the current political climate, with its sometimes contentious elements evident through the US election season and beyond – and elsewhere in the world, too. How can we pray for the healing of divisiveness and accusation that can even set families and friends at odds? Certainly it is right to long for honesty and integrity in government and business practices. However, negative and hateful rhetoric can lead to hopelessness and fear, which do not offer solutions to our problems.
Christ Jesus lived in difficult political times, when the Jews were oppressed by a foreign government and day-to-day life was shadowed by corruption and economic instability. However, his healing ministry thrived in the midst of such conditions, and he constantly turned his followers to the healing power of God, uplifting them and enabling them to see God’s goodness manifested in their daily lives.
Jesus redirected thought in this way when a group brought him a woman accused of adultery (see John 8:3-11). Their stated intent was to kill her by stoning. The Bible tells us:
“Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, ‘Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.’ Bending down again, he wrote on the ground again. Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd. Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore’ ” (Common English Bible).
Jesus’ moment of quiet writing on the ground, his prayerful pause, led to a peaceful resolution – with a teachable moment for all, bringing calm and opportunity for reformation to the accusers as well as to the woman accused of sin.
When we are tempted to take a side or feel angry and hopeless about issues that matter greatly to us, we, too, can take a prayerful pause and listen for the healing message of God’s care, trusting divine Love to bring needed resolution.
A few years ago I presented a proposal for a community project. After presenting the project at a meeting, angry words were spoken by someone who disagreed with the proposal. He approached me after the meeting and hit me, telling me that I shouldn’t speak up about the project again. Nobody else witnessed this incident, and I was stunned by this unexpectedly violent attempt to silence me.
I went home to prayerfully listen for direction. It was tempting to fight back against this unjust act. However, in my prayerful pause, I considered what God knows about the true, spiritual nature of each of us. I realized that while the angry behavior had certainly been wrong, it did not represent this man’s actual nature as the spiritual reflection of our mutual Father-Mother God, divine Love. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded the Christian Science Church, writes, “Man is the expression of God’s being” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 470). Because our spiritual identity is only good, anything else is a misconception about our true nature.
Difficult as it was at first, I prayed to sincerely behold the man’s native goodness as God’s spiritual creation. As the reflection of divine Mind and Love, it’s natural for all of us to express thoughtfulness and care. I also realized that no matter what happened with this particular project, God’s wise and intelligent plan for us can’t be stopped. Dismay at the unjust treatment and sense of human will about achieving my agenda dissolved, and I trusted the outcome to God.
A few days later I attended another meeting where this individual was present, and he humbly approached me with an apology. He became an enthusiastic advocate for the project, which was ultimately approved, even volunteering his labor to help complete it. I learned a blessed lesson about the value of a prayerful pause, which opens the door to seeing God’s thoughtful care for everyone.
In John we read, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (3:17, New International Version). Following the prayerful, uplifting approach taught by Christ Jesus paves the way for peace and progress in our daily lives and the world.