A Christian Science perspective.
“All this anger is making me really mad,” I joked to a friend recently.
The irony of that statement was not lost on either of us. But news coverage in the US and elsewhere has been rife with reports of threats and acts of violence against politicians and government officials because of various decisions they’ve made. Awareness is growing of an increasing polarization and extremism of opinions, not only in the US but throughout the world (see for example the Monitor’s March 8 feature, “Why Americans are so angry”).
At times like this, it’s helpful to remember Jesus’ beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9). A peacemaker is one who settles disputes, promotes harmony and understanding among people, and, of course, refrains from violence and encourages others to do the same.
That beatitude assures us that those who make peace find happiness and are called God’s children. What a sweet reward! Yet as I’ve been praying in response to current threats of violence, and thinking deeply about this beatitude, I’ve found it enlightening to look at Jesus’ statement in reverse – to begin with the child of God. In other words, to act as a child of God and to see others the same way is to be a peacemaker.
When we prayerfully stop and recognize that we are all the children of the same divine Parent, who is Love itself, we begin to realize that we are truly one another’s brothers and sisters, incapable of hatred and violence. We are governed harmoniously by God, who is also the one infinite Mind. This Mind loves each of its spiritual ideas, individually and impartially.
When we fully realize this, we can’t help thinking and acting as children of Love, loving even those with whom we may strongly disagree. To do so brings us and others into harmony with the divine order. This is true peacemaking.
As Christians prepare to celebrate Easter this week, the story of Christ Jesus’ arrest prior to his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection provides powerful lessons. Armed men came to take him away. He did not resist. But the Apostle Peter responded angrily, drawing a sword and cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant.
Wouldn’t Peter’s act have been understandable if not justified? After all, he saw his Master and Teacher being betrayed and led away to be put to death. Yet Jesus not only repudiated this action; he touched the servant’s ear and healed it (see John 18:10, Luke 22:51).
Commenting on Jesus’ extraordinary response, Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “The great demonstrator of Truth and Love was silent before envy and hate. Peter would have smitten the enemies of his Master, but Jesus forbade him, thus rebuking resentment or animal courage. He said: ‘Put up thy sword’ ” (p. 48).
Does this mean that for there to be peace, everyone must hold the same opinions or always agree with one another? Not at all. But the extremes of human opinion that result in anger and violence must dissolve in favor of harmony.
Anyone who has sung in a chorus knows that the richest harmonies don’t come from everyone singing the same note. Harmony comes from the relationship of different notes sung by various parts. Each part is different but indispensable to the harmony of the whole. Under the hand of the director, the chorus expresses a unity of thought and purpose, even as each member sings his or her respective part.
So it is with us. We can hold differing views. But praying to recognize that we are all God’s children and under His direction, we will be peacemakers who help one another experience greater harmony.