Called by whom?
A Christian Science perspective: A response to Islamic State’s call to violence.
Who or what can call us to action? Increasingly, it’s become an important question regarding the world’s security. But calling people to harm others, manipulating people to commit acts of violence – as in broadcasts made by Islamic State, for example – has been proved to ultimately fail time and again throughout the centuries. It is a call so completely opposite to our true nature as God’s children, the children of Love, that it must be understood as having no link or connection with anyone.
Any call to do evil is without divine impetus, because God is good. And it’s the power of Christ – the divine message of the spiritual relation of man to God – that has been shown to reverse the attraction of any evil influence.
I often think of the remarkable story of a man who followed what he thought was a righteous call to bring a certain group of people to their death. But even in the very act of persecuting others he heard a different call. It literally stopped him in his tracks.
It was a man named Saul, whose life was changed on the road to Damascus. Looking to bring any Christians he might find along the way to Jerusalem, he was suddenly stopped by a “light from heaven,” and a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:3, 4). It was the Christ calling him.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, describes this moment of Saul’s transformation in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” She says he “beheld the way – the Christ, or Truth – only when his uncertain sense of right yielded to a spiritual sense, which is always right. Then the man was changed. Thought assumed a nobler outlook, and his life became more spiritual.... He beheld for the first time the true idea of Love …” (p. 326).
Then Saul, calling himself Paul, went on to heal and preach throughout the region and beyond. What is particularly interesting is that he spoke to people of different cultures and faiths in sharing the healing power of Christ. He practiced what Jesus commanded: to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself.
St. Paul’s experience is a powerful reminder to us that the only true call, the call that has attraction and power, is Christ’s call to be and do good – not evil. His life compels us to understand that as children of Love, loving is a natural, intuitive prompting, a divine command within us. This always-present call of Love comes no more frequently to one than another. It knows no dogma and ultimately cannot be hindered by any. Impelling us to reform, Love creates the desire to do only good to others.
This same spirit of Christ inspires us to pray for our brothers and sisters around the globe, to free them from being manipulated into doing harm. As Jesus taught, praying to “our Father in heaven” enables us to recognize the brotherhood and sisterhood of others.
Through prayer we can understand that hate is unnatural to the children of God; and, that as His children, we can respond only to divine Love’s voice. Wouldn’t the voice of Love, the call of Christ speaking to each human consciousness, be exactly what counteracts the false call, or temptation, to do evil? Our sincere prayers turn us to divine Love, and we become more conscious of the infinite power of divine good, of God, transforming human consciousness, eliminating evil thinking and acting.
As Christ awakened Paul, it wakens us. The call to us, to all people around the globe, is to act in accord with the spirit of divine Love. What we have within us is the irresistible impulsion of God to express our nature as the sons and daughters of God. As Paul wrote to the Galatians: “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (5:13, 14).