The power of conscience
Is it so naive to believe that one person's love could have made the crucial difference to a man or woman who became a terrorist? Or that if a congressman had helped a fellow legislator refuse a bribe, the tide of corruption might have been stemmed? If citizen after citizen had said no to fascism, would the monolithic forces of World War II have gathered? Terrorism, corruption, despotism, have to trample individual conscience in order to dominate society. Is individual conscience defenseless?
Not if we realize that it is supported by divine law. The Psalmist writes: "By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me. And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever." n1 Because God's voice is the voice of conscience, conscience is clear evidence in human thought that God is the sole determining factor in the universe. Christ Jesus is the best example of the power of spiritual integrity that is the essence of conscience.
n1 Psalms 41:11, 12;
Jesus unfailingly challenged any power that defied his Father, omnipotent good. he confronted hypocrisy, corruption, immorality. He challenged the very root of these destructive forces -- the unquestioning acceptance of a life supposedly born into matter, dependent on matter, and dying out of matter. The spiritual integrity of the Christ, the immortal power that moved Jesus, cut to the quick this despotism of materialism.
Neither the threats of those who would misuse their temporal power nor the threats of disease and deformity cowed Jesus. He obeyed the voice of Truth. The result of his obedience was healing -- not only healing of disease but also transformation of character through the healing of sin. An adulteress was given new direction and saved from stoning. Zacchaeus changed his greedy ways. A promiscuous woman whom Jesus met at Jacob's well found the Christ and a promise of deeper satisfaction in Spirit and in Truth. And in his final proof of his Christly nature, Jesus defeated his enemies with his resurrection from the grave.
The whole point of Jesus' life was to illustrate the divine law that establishes God's kingdom on earth. That law gives each of us the direction and courage to act with spiritually impelled integrity. Mary Baker Eddy, a deep student of the divine laws underlying Jesus' life, writes in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m "God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience." n2
n2 Science and Health,m p. 106;
Conscience is not, then, simply cultural conditioning, not the murmurings in our thought of a passe religious sect. It is each individual's natural inclination to obey the voice of Truth. It is not naive, therefore, to consider that all of us, wherever we are -- at the conference table, on the battlefield, in the streets, in prison -- can exercise our right to conscience.
Though we may think we are not in a seat of power or place of influence, each of us commands attention through his or her obedience to spiritual integrity. In our thoughts and lives we contribute to the atmosphere of integrity -- to the recognition of the right of conscience in our world. The quality of our life and the quality of our prayers offer solutions to a world in need of the purity that a deeply inspired integrity assures.
If we need courage to take a stand for Truth's standard of conscience, we might ponder this statement by Mrs. Eddy: "The 'still, small voice' of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe's remotest bound. The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, 'as when a lion roareth.' It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear. It arouses the 'seven thunders' of evil, and stirs their latent forces to utter the full diapason of secret tones. Then is the power of Truth demonstrated, -- made manifest in the destruction of error." n3
n3 ibid.,m p. 559.
As we pray with the knowledge of the scientific divine law creating and backing individual integrity, we help counteract the mental malaise that would keep us and others from exercising the right of conscience and halting despotism of any kind. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The integrity of the upright shall guide them. Proverbs 11:3