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On choosing your battles

A Christian Science perspective.

You’ve heard the phrase “choose your battles” – wise advice that can defuse disagreements. Conflict seems to be everywhere: at work, in homes, between nations, and often within ourselves. But prayer can have a healing effect – prayer to the one God who loves each of us and is always ready to reveal the permanent spiritual peace that belongs to everyone. We can pray to understand more clearly that conflict is no part of anyone’s spiritual identity, because we are each the image and likeness of God, Love.

Another aspect of the desire to end conflict is the willingness to engage in a different kind of war – a willingness to face all that is unlike God from the standpoint of His inevitable goodness, and to triumph because God is the only power. What is this war, and what are we fighting?

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The Bible says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:3-5). It’s not about a war of one individual’s physical force over another with human weapons, but about God’s authority founded on infinite power that gives us the dominion to confront and overcome evil in whatever form it appears. Because God never created evil, we gain the understanding that evil doesn’t have power over God or over anything in His creation.

The New Living Translation of the Bible interprets God’s mighty weapons as those that knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and false arguments. Spiritual weapons such as meekness, humility, and God-given spiritual strength are firmly established by Love’s infinite law.

With this authority, God, divine Principle, will show us how to use these weapons to confront belief systems that condemn people, the racial and ethnic prejudice that excludes individuals, and the self-serving motives that fuel conflict. Prayer awakens compassion and benevolence in people at home and across the globe. It gives us the expectancy that this awakening will result in greater collaboration within families, communities, governments, and societies.

From the standpoint of our inseparable and indissoluble relationship with God, to fight this war means to “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” The Christ – the healing and saving presence and power of God, which is with us every moment – is the only reality of our existence and is completely free of conflict. As we pray, and sometimes struggle, to give up such thoughts as “I’m never going to get along with my boss,” or “I’m never going to forgive him,” we are bowing before Christ, which knows nothing but God’s supremacy. Christ will silence these harassing mental arguments that steal our peace.

In turn, Christ gives us more hope, strength, and willingness to trust that God will show us how to love our way through every conflict. Christian Science teaches that Jesus so fully understood the Christ as his one and only identity, that only spiritual thoughts from God governed and guided his words and actions. It enabled him to heal and restore harmony. Jesus came to show us what was possible for all of us.

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science as well as the Monitor, was not unfamiliar with spiritual warfare. Her deep love for God and humanity impelled her to face down with God’s power the misconceptions that insist on man being inherently a wrongdoer, forever at odds with his neighbor, and doomed to suffer. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she wrote, “Christian Science, properly understood, would disabuse the human mind of material beliefs which war against spiritual facts; and these material beliefs must be denied and cast out to make place for truth” (p. 130). Science and Health also states, “When the divine precepts are understood, they unfold the foundation of fellowship, in which one mind is not at war with another, but all have one Spirit, God, one intelligent source, in accordance with the Scriptural command: ‘Let this Mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus’ ”
(p. 276).

Today, this is the promise and victory that assure us conflict must lessen everywhere. Turning unreservedly to God in prayer, we understand more deeply that everything unlike divine Love must fall before Love’s all-power.