Two sayings of Jesus, recorded in John's Gospel, are of deep and enduring interest. One of them reads: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27); the other, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Christ Jesus overcame the world, leaving his peace and the method of gaining it as a rich legacy to his followers, and telling them to be unafraid, untroubled, of good cheer. He himself could not possibly have been other than at peace, since he had overcome all worldliness. His overcoming meant victory over material sense in its every form—all the suggestions of matter, the flesh, evil.
The temptations of the world— matter, the flesh, evil—are no different now from what they were when the Master triumphed over them. They still are the common enemy of mankind. Envy, jealousy, hatred, revenge, and lust remain the bitter foes of the human race. And nothing is more certain than that if any of them is indulged, inharmony results and peace of mind vanishes. Think how envy or jealousy tortures those who allow themselves to become its victim. They lose the true spiritual perspective; the actions of others are misunderstood and misjudged by them; and peace of mind disappears, leaving them stricken and pained. So it is with all the other false beliefs of evil: whoever allows himself to be victimized by them is sure to have to pay the penalty; sure to be robbed of his rightful sense of harmony and peace; sure, sooner or later, to suffer the pangs of regret.
To attain to a measure of peace of mind these enemies, these mortal mind beliefs, must be overcome in individual experience, for as Mrs. Eddy writes (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 278), "Peace is the promise and reward of rightness." A wonderful sentence that—full of meaning! And how is "rightness" to be cultivated, rightness which is the harbinger of peace? A hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal (No. 277) refers to peace as "the fruit of conquered sin." In the measure that belief in the reality of matter or evil is indulged, and the belief made the basis of sensuous indulgence, in that measure is genuine peace denied. To reach the haven of perfect peace, all sin must be overcome—all materiality, all evil.
"Jesus stormed sin in its citadels and kept peace with God," our Leader says on page 211 of "Miscellaneous Writings." Here also is an illuminating statement. Had Jesus not kept peace with God; had he not understood God and lived in accordance with his understanding, he could not possibly have stormed the citadels of sin as he did. He knew the allness of God, good, and the love of God for His children. He knew also the unreality of evil. And with this understanding he fearlessly exposed the sinful thoughts and practices of men, certain that exposure was necessary to the overcoming of them.
In his warfare with the evil beliefs of the world the Christian Scientist is well equipped. He has learned through Christian Science the nature of God and God's creation. He knows that God and His entire spiritual creation are good—perfect. He knows also that evil—the devil or Satan—is a lie, utterly devoid of reality, because God is infinite good. He therefore regards evil, by whatever name it may be called—the world, the flesh, Satan, the devil, or material sense—as but false or erroneous mental suggestion, which he can refuse to accept. This knowledge of the unreality of evil places him at a great advantage over the false belief. And besides, he knows that in overcoming evil he is not destroying something which has entity or actuality, but, rather, is realizing the omnipresence of spiritual truth.
How different the Christian Science way of salvation is from that pursued by those who limit God's goodness, fail to see and acknowledge the perfection of man as God's image and likeness, and believe in the reality of evil! The real man, being the perfect idea of God, is never in need of saving. He reflects God continually, knows naught but good, never for an instant is deprived of harmony and peace. The student of Christian Science strives to know the truth about man, and to live in accordance with that truth. In this manner he attains to a measure of righteousness, or "rightness," and gains a proportionate measure of peace—the peace of God.
For the purpose of overcoming erroneous beliefs and attaining peace, another great truth has been given the student of Christian Science: he has received an understanding of God as Love. God is Love, and His whole creation is lovable and loving. What an error it is, then, to be other than loving in our relations with our fellow men! "Whatever brings into human thought or action an element opposed to Love, is never requisite, never a necessity, and is not sanctioned by the law of God, the law of Love" (Miscellany, pp. 278, 279). Thus, while engaged in realizing the truth of the perfection of man and reversing the false beliefs which would deny that perfection, we should never allow ourselves to be made to believe that an evil thought or evil action is of any real value whatsoever. Loving thoughts, good thoughts, pure thoughts, true thoughts—these alone have spiritual power; these alone are worthy of us; these alone bring the reward of peace.
In the experience of the individual, peace is the result of overcoming the evil suggestions of the so-called mortal or carnal mind. In the experience of nations, enduring peace can come in no other way; it must always be the result of the regeneration of the individuals constituting the nations. It is always the reward of "rightness." The more materially-minded the people of a nation, the more readily they are deceived by evil into believing its false arguments; and the greater is the unrest —mental and physical—they experience. On the other hand, the more spiritually-minded the people, the less they are deceived by the suggestions of evil, and the more they enjoy harmony and peace of mind.
Peace is the promise and the reward of righteousness. Righteousness must therefore be striven for by the peoples of all the nations if they are to reap the reward. The way to righteousness has been clearly defined by Christ Jesus as the overcoming of the world, and none can fail to find and travel that way who are obedient to his teachings, so fully and scientifically elucidated in Christian Science.
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