Christ Unites People and Nations
CONDITIONS in both the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia warrant our attention right now as those countries struggle through the birth pangs of a new era. And though few of us may be in a position to influence events humanly, we can turn to prayer as a way of supporting the efforts of many to see that good alone prevails.Our resort to prayer as a help has a solid basis in the Bible, which records that, in times of national turmoil, Old Testament prophets--such as Elijah and Elisha--specifically prayed for their people. Sometimes their prayers were so effective that their lives were actually threatened by their enemies, who did not want good to prevail. Yet they persevered and triumphed through their trust in God's care. The New Testament shows that Christ Jesus also prayed diligently, not just for himself or even just for those who came to him for healing. He was able to perceive a much wider picture, to see that his followers in ages to come would also need to resort to God's direction in times of trial. In the hours before he was betrayed and taken to be crucified, he prayed for his followers and those who would come after them, saying, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me th rough their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. This unity of which Jesus spoke was surely the Christ, God's message of love for man. Jesus' desire that his followers feel this power in their own lives showed up throughout his ministry, not just on this last and perhaps tumultuous night. Yet for a brief period before and after the crucifixion, it appeared that Jesus' efforts to prepare his followers to understand the message he was bringing to mankind had been ineffective. The frightened disciples scattered or went into hiding. His betrayer, Judas, hanged himself. Jesus' resurrection and ascension changed all this. The proof of his teachings was so powerful that his followers were transformed. They began to perceive that the power of Christ that Jesus expressed so fully was available to them also. The result was a group of men who preached with boldness to the nations of their world. Their message of man's unbreakable unity with God--the oneness to which Jesus referred --is speaking to us today as well. Human conditions may seem at times to be filled with turmoil and misery. Certainly the unstable conditions in the Soviet republics and in Yugoslavia are prime examples. We need to go beyond tragedies, however, and reason as Jesus did in connection with the challenges he faced. The Master was certain of man's spirituality, of man's unity with God, and of God's all-goodness and tend er care. And he knew that prayer could bring us into communion with this infinite goodness. In recognizing man's inseparability from God, Christ Jesus was also pointing toward the fact that fragmentation or being cut off from good is not the truth of anyone's real, spiritual being. Materiality may argue that division and breakage are the norm, because human circumstances are by their nature unstable and finite. When we think solely in such material terms, our perceptions are limited as a result. Matter does decay, wear out, run down. Material feelings such as anger, hatred, sorrow, frustration, and discord also tend toward finitude. They are destructive and limiting. Spirit, God, on the other hand, is infinite and omnipresent good. Something truly infinite cannot be broken apart, because it fills all space. So as we pray, we can affirm the presence of Spirit in our lives and nations as well as in the countries of the world. Our declaration of Spirit's presence will help to lift thought from the material arena where war, ethnic hatreds, desperation, and other mortal elements would operate. Through our understanding that Spirit is and can bring only good, we are su pporting an outcome that will bring peace, unity, and harmony to all who are genuinely seeking a progressive outcome. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, speaks at length about how we obtain personal and societal harmony. She writes: "The breaking up of material beliefs may seem to be famine and pestilence, want and woe, sin, sickness, and death, which assume new phases until their nothingness appears. These disturbances will continue until the end of error, when all discord will be swallowed up in spiritual Truth. As Jesus' teachings showed so well, Christ, Truth, does annihilate discord because it speaks of man's unity with God, divine Mind. As we understand that man cannot be separated from Mind, good, then it follows that oneness is the nature of true being. While nations--and people--may go through stirring periods of change, our prayers can make an enormous difference to the outcome. Instead of allowing inharmony or hatred to become permanent, prayer supports the establishment of right relationships based on unity of purpose and a recognition that good is already present. This good could appear as a national distribution system or some other useful product, idea, or relationship. But whatever form it takes, it can be a building block for peace. And as we recognize that God, good, is the only Mind, we can affirm that all who are united with this Mind are working together in harmony. Such unity of purpose leads to intelligent decisions and wise choices. These are amazing times for witnessing events and for praying to support them. And each day will give us new opportunities to see the power of Christ, Truth, in our own lives and in the world.