What can you do when a group of people you value split into opposing factions and refuse to cooperate with each other?
It happens frequently. Political parties polarize and refuse to work out their differences while the greater good of their constituency suffers. A wife and a husband fight, to the detriment of their family. A church congregation splits between warring cliques that seem more intent on pushing their positions than spreading the gospel and healing the sick.
One might start to feel helpless when witnessing such unfortunate consequences, and even be tempted to give up on a group that appears dysfunctional. But Christ Jesus taught us that there’s something more than the lines that would divide us. Jesus faced dissent, opposition, desertion, dishonesty, betrayal, and malicious attack. But through it all, as he responded in just the right way to meet each need, he loved. He did not allow hopelessness to take over his perspective. He persisted in his cause and prevailed with love, teaching his followers that no matter what kind of attack we may endure, we can triumph over the evil faced.
Jesus understood the love that triumphs over dissension to be more than a human affection or superficial courtesy. As his follower John wrote, “God is love” (I John 4:8). Christian Science explains further that God is Love, and that to acknowledge Love as a synonym for God captures the deeper sense of what divine Love is (see Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 319–320). The Love that is God is not moody, temperamental, prejudiced, unpredictable, conditional, or partial. It’s more than human kindness or a warm feeling. It’s the absolute divine Principle of the universe, governing and reigning throughout all creation and in the lives of every being.
We can align our thinking with this divine Principle and Love, aiming to let Love lead us in every relationship we form, every conversation we engage in, and every group we’re involved with. It’s a heavenly power that, when understood and lived, can soften hard hearts, bridge gaps of misunderstanding, defeat evil attacks, and impel unity.
The human mind is often quick to draw dividing lines between people and create reasons for them to oppose each other. But when we strive to see others through the eyes of divine Love, we find those lines start to dissolve. God, Love, knows us as His wholly spiritual creation, not as mortals defined by race, gender, or religion. Divine Love loves like the sun shines—impartially, universally, and unconditionally upon one and all—and everyone is equally worthy of that love. In divine Love, there are no dividing lines that split groups into factions, for there are no “sides” with Love; it is the only power.
As pride, ego, and self-righteousness were silenced in my own thought, I would also notice a diminishing of pride and ego in my children.
I found these ideas helpful when seeking harmony on issues that popped up for discussion at different times during my children’s growing-up years. More than once, if there was a difference of opinion between me and one of my teens, and the gap was only growing wider as I tried to convince them of my point of view, I’d take a step back and realize that the primary need was to love them for who they truly were, God’s spiritual children.
Turning to divine Love, I’d back off my efforts to merely win my teens’ agreement, and practice more compassion and understanding, forgiveness and open-mindedness. I would pray to see them in their true spiritual light, and affirm that, because of who we truly are, it’s natural for all of us to want to do the right thing and that we have the inherent capacity to know how to do the right thing. It wasn’t just about me pushing them in one direction or the other. I also recognized that perhaps they had a point of view I needed to appreciate.
As pride, ego, and self-righteousness were silenced in my own thought, I would also notice a diminishing of pride and ego in my children. Tension would dissolve, calm would prevail, and we’d find common ground on which to agree and move forward.
To see the unifying power of divine Love in a group we cherish, we have to sacrifice selfish desire; we need to yearn to understand and express Love and to see others as Love’s expression. We can learn how to do this from Jesus, who was the master of loving God with his whole heart and his neighbor unselfishly. He turned to Love—not worldly attachment, opinion, pride, ego, or want—to lead him. He even sacrificed his physical life in order to continue his mission of love. Nailed to the cross by vicious persecutors, he harbored no animosity: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). His unselfishness, derived from divine Love, enabled him to triumph over his enemies’ intent to destroy his ministry. Love drew his little band of followers, disillusioned by the crucifixion, back to him after his resurrection. Jesus proved the carnal mind to be powerless against Love.
Paul commanded us to follow Christ Jesus’ example when he wrote: “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:9–11, New King James Version). Christ is the love of God manifested on earth to bless mankind, and everyone’s true nature is found in Christ, even those who are on different sides of an issue. Each of us has the ability to hear and feel Christ.
When we’re faced with inharmony, we can seek a spiritual point of view. In reality, everyone is a child of God and worthy of love. One child of God is no more important than another. God loves one and all the same—infinitely. The lines that the human mind would draw between one person and another dissolve as we yield to Love.
It’s helpful to understand when praying for unity among people that differences in style, approach, attitude, custom, or cultural practice are not a reason to fear failure in finding common ground. It’s okay for people to be different. We don’t have to all be the same humanly; the spiritual fact of our oneness with God remains true. Each of us has a unique way of expressing God because God has an infinite number of ways of being expressed. So, instead of fearing differences between individuals and letting those outward differences become points of contention, we can look at our neighbor through the eyes of Love and discover what we spiritually have in common. Completely apart from human personality, physical appearance, and personality quirks and oddities is our real identity as the children of God, born of Love, and created to love and to be loved.
As we do this, we’ll find that ungodlike traits can be healed, and differing expressions of individuality can complement each other rather than compete. Like construction workers building a house: One worker may excel at foundations, another at plumbing, another at electrical operations. They each have a specialty that distinguishes their work, but all are needed to get the job done. Everyone has his niche to fill.
Mary Baker Eddy wisely wrote, “I recommend that Scientists draw no lines whatever between one person and another, but think, speak, teach, and write the truth of Christian Science without reference to right or wrong personality in this field of labor” (No and Yes, p. 7). The prayer that brings unity to a group of people in conflict is the prayer that acknowledges the one divine Principle, Love, that created us all. Instead of dwelling on differences and reasons to be angry or withdraw, the seeker of unity in Love prays to see the oneness of God, Mind, that governs and is expressed in man.
As we commit to honoring and expressing in our relationships with others the presence of divine Love, not only are we benefited, but those around us have the opportunity to feel the healing influence of divine Love that can lift their thought to a better place, too. Living the unqualified love of God is what enables one to step over any lines between one person and another, drawn by the human mind, and find unity.