From managing conflict to healing it
NEARLY four thousand years ago in the Middle East two men faced a serious conflict. It was not unlike challenges that have been confronted many times by individuals and nations throughout history. The two men had substantial wealth and were sharing the same land between them. But that piece of land simply could not provide adequate pasturage for their extensive herds or enough space to accommodate all their family members, servants, tents, and other possessions. And as the Bible relates, ``There was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle.''1 Abram's response in this circumstance shows his practical wisdom and a willingness to make necessary and generous concessions. One might say that Abram offers an early example of successful conflict management. ``And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.''2
As important as this resolution was, the management of conflict in that single instance couldn't possibly have been sufficient to bring a wider or lasting peace to an entire region of political instability. The Bible records that not long after Lot went to the east, war arose there between opposing kings.
While it can be a significant step in the peace process, conflict management even on a larger scale--such as between the world's superpowers--may produce only short-term results. On the international scene there are so many factors to be taken into account, and the scenario is constantly changing. Isn't it the peace of God that mankind so urgently needs?
This is the spiritual peace of which Christ Jesus spoke to his disciples: ``Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.''3 This is the peace that fills the hearts of individuals and transforms human thinking through Christ, Truth. And only as thought is transformed by Christ can the world itself be transformed to make room for lasting peace.
Christian Science teaches that the peace of God is the spiritual reality of His kingdom. The peace of God is the truth of God, who is infinite Mind and Love. As the truth of God, peace must also be true of what He creates, including man. Man is actually God's pure spiritual reflection, the manifestation of what He is.
This real man, God's man, is our own true nature. And though we may at present perceive the spiritual reality only dimly, the Christ, God's saving message of grace and truth, is constantly coming to consciousness to enable us to learn of our real being, to remove the dimness of mortal perceptions and fill us with the light of immortal comprehension. That's where we find the gift of peace that Jesus promised--in the light of knowing who we are as God's expression.
Prayer and inspired study of the Bible and of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, are most valuable in learning the truth of God and man and in discovering the spiritual peace that is inherent in each of us. One of the things we learn from the textbook is the necessity for humanity to quit its reliance on matter and to turn wholeheartedly to God, Spirit, for salvation. It is only in God that true freedom, joy, security, and purpose are found. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and the author of Science and Health, writes: ``This scientific sense of being, forsaking matter for Spirit, by no means suggests man's absorption into Deity and the loss of his identity, but confers upon man enlarged individuality, a wider sphere of thought and action, a more expansive love, a higher and more permanent peace.''4
To whatever degree we do forsake materiality for spirituality and live what the Christ is doing in us, changing in us, our own demonstration of peace will be a light to all mankind. We will find wise ways to manage conflict, and we will find enlightened ways to heal it. 1Genesis 13:7. 2Genesis 13:8, 9. 3John 14:27. 4Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 265. This is a condensed version of an editorial that appears in the May 12 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Let the peace of God rule in your hearts . . . Colossians 3:15