How can we pray for peace effectively? What can we do to make it possible to experience the promise of “on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14)?
The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, was very engaged with this subject. In response to the war between Russia and Japan in 1904 and 1905, at one point she called on all the members of The Mother Church to “pray each day for the amicable settlement of the war” (see The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 279). She also pointed church members to the two commandments to love God and one’s neighbor as oneself—the commandments Jesus commended to his followers.
As I thought about this more deeply, I noticed something significant in Jesus’ interaction with “a certain lawyer” (see Luke 10:25–37) that shed new light on the command to love our neighbor. The Bible account relates that they agree on the importance of loving one’s neighbor as oneself. But when the expert in the law asks Jesus who his neighbor is, Jesus gives a very surprising answer. He doesn’t name a group of people like the needy, the widows, or the sick. Instead, he tells a parable in which a man cares for a stranger who has been attacked and badly injured, after a priest and a Levite simply passed the wounded man by. Then Jesus asks, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” That showed me that a neighbor is not just a person who asks us for help. It’s what we are when we are willing to be a neighbor to others.