Dominion over the earth
THE picture on television was of an apartment building -- a part of it, really. It was like a cross section, only in three dimensions. As the camera pulled back, a man standing in front of the building came into view. He looked so small. As the camera continued to pull back, the scene that was gradually exposed showed that the apartment building -- or what was left of it -- was the only structure standing for blocks, perhaps even miles. Rubble surrounded it and stretched so far and wide that the camera simply could not take it all in. By then the building seemed like an outcropping in an open field and the man had all but disappeared. The earthquake that inflicted such destruction in Armenia a few weeks ago, the rest of the world learned about through such images. And these images relayed a heart-rending cry that required no explanations, no formal requests for help. The outpouring of aid and love that came in response -- and continues to come -- has unlocked new hope and has temporarily outstripped even the means of conveying the aid to those who need it most.
Yet even with all the good works and good will, the images can't be easily erased or pushed aside. The impressions they leave penetrate and are troubling. ``Man is frail,'' the pictures tell us. ``He is exposed and defenseless. And though mankind may learn to build better buildings, monitor the planet's shiftings, and improve emergency operations, the fact remains: man lives at the mercy of nature. Earth, by virtue of its size, has inherent dominion over man.''
Something deep within us fights such a conclusion. We may not be able to artic-ulate why. But our sincerest intuitions affirm that our desire -- our need -- for protection and preservation is not unfulfillable.
The Bible is not mute on these issues. The Psalmist asked of God: ``When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?'' Physically considered, of course, man does seem a mere speck compared to the stars and planets. But the psalm goes on to reveal that there is a higher answer to the question than one based on appearance or physicality. From a spiritual vantage point, man is much more than he appears to be. In fact, the Psalmist affirms of God's man: ``Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.''1
Christian Science, in accepting such spiritual revelations of the Scriptures, recognizes the real identity of each of us to be this man God made. It recognizes God to be infinite Spirit and man to be His wholly spiritual offspring. This follows from Christ Jesus' declaration ``God is a Spirit''2 and from his life and works, which time and again actually demonstrated man's true nature to be spiritual, perfect, whole, and immortal.
Because man is spiritual, his God-given dominion is spiritual. But spiritual dominion differs radically from a material sense of dominion, which is actually domination -- one entity oppressing another. Spiritual dominion is peaceful and peace-giving. God being one and infinite, all His creation -- man and universe -- must be one and must be inherently harmonious, for God could not possibly be at war with Himself.
If these things are true, why then does mankind seem so dominated by the earth? The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy,3 states: ``It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony.''4
A step toward greater harmony with earth, then, is to begin learning of God as divine Principle, as the one always present Spirit, who perpetually loves and cares for His entire creation. This involves striving daily to demonstrate our native spirituality -- to love one another, to honor what is right and good, to step by step understand and accept and trust in the reality and supremacy of Spirit. Doing these things enables us to begin gaining dominion over a false sense of ourselves as mortal and over the false, oppressive assumption that creation is essentially physical and outside the control of Spirit, God.
To the extent the thinking and living of each of us come under the conscious government of harmonious Spirit, we will collectively demonstrate man's God-bestowed dominion over the earth. And tragedy will be superseded by the natural peace of man and earth in God's omnipotent care.
1Psalms 8:3-6. 2John 4:24. 3The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 4Science and Health, p. 390. - NO BIBLE VERSE TODAY -