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"The weapons of our warfare"

From the June 1996 issue of The Christian Science Journal

More and more people around the world feel they need to be armed. More guns and knives can be found in streets, homes, schools, and malls. But what is the result? Don't individuals often feel even more fearful? Ever expectant of harm?

There is a solution; there is a weapon that is effective in any situation. It is always accurate. When carrying it you will feel and be protected and secure. This weapon is spiritual understanding. An understanding of God's ever-presence and absolute supremacy is potent no matter what the circumstance, because divine power is more than sufficient to dissolve the threat of evil, just as light removes every vestige of darkness. St. Paul tells us, "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. The New English Bible offers as one possible translation of that first verse and part of the second: "We live, no doubt, in the world; but it is not on that level that we fight our battles. The weapons we wield are not those of the world...."

When Moses was sent to deliver the children of Israel from bondage, he was armed. But his weapon was not on the world's level. He was armed with the knowledge that "I AM" had sent him. Moses had been reluctant. His reluctance was voiced in the question "Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" The response was "Certainly I will be with thee...." Moses had hesitated again, saying, "When I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?" God responded, "I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." Ex. 3:11-14.

Moses' doubts and hesitations, one by one, yielded to the supremacy of "I AM." He saw the deceptive nature of what the physical senses report when he cast his rod on the ground, saw it change into a serpent, and then at God's command took the serpent by the tail and saw it become a rod again. He also saw the falsity of material evidence when his hand turned immediately to a leprous condition and back to its healthy state. See Ex. 4:2-7 .

Through the study of Christian Science, we come to understand the ever-present and omnipotent power of God. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy defines God as "the great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence." Science and Health, p. 587.

We might think of God's declaration of His nature as "I AM" as His announcing to Moses: "I am Spirit. I supply your strength, and I know no restriction. You express Me. Nothing less than My power, vitality, and action can be seen in you. You are My image. I am Mind, the all-knowing Mind, your Mind. You and all are under My wise and loving direction. The entire universe expresses My infinite understanding. I am Love. Therefore, you and all can rejoice in My lovely freedom and eternal joy."

Armed spiritually, Moses went to Pharaoh and delivered the children of Israel from bondage. Can't we turn away from the daunting evidence before us and radically rely on God as Moses did? Can't we wield the weapon of spiritual understanding, which is divinely potent? Can't we rejoice that God, "the great I am," is our Mind and Life right now? Yes, we can. Man expresses and is the image and likeness of his divine Parent. He reflects the glorious spiritual nature of Spirit.

We are loaded with the weapons of Love when we understand that God has made man to be His likeness, therefore spiritual, invulnerable to evil, materialistic influences; and that the healing, saving power of Christ, Truth, destroys the enslaving belief that we can expect nothing more than the ills and threats of mortality. A weapon filled with blanks may sound impressive, but it can't truly protect. The Christ, active through spiritual understanding, removes from thought the useless blanks of mortal belief that lead only to despair, and fills consciousness with the truth of man's being. A lack of eloquence, a disease, a serpent in the path —each of these was proved to Moses to be but a mortal belief. Spiritual understanding moved his thought past the evidence of the counterfeit senses. And as our thought catches, in prayer, the spiritual sense of God and man, the lack, the sicknesses, the hideous false fears that lie in our pathway, will also be removed.

We may feel secure at the moment as a result of an efficient military, a protecting police force for our cities, or locks and alarms for our homes. And we can be grateful for these. Yet ultimately, the false sense of man as a mortal who needs somehow to be protected materially needs to yield to a higher sense of confidence. Beginning with the thought of man as a mortal denies our spirituality and would seem to separate us from God, our true source of security. The clamor for arms —bigger and better—expresses a false concept of man and a misdirected search for man's inherent spiritual strength and safety. We must cast down the carnal mind's "imaginations," for man reflects God's might and peace.

Mrs. Eddy writes: "Judas had the world's weapons. Jesus had not one of them, and chose not the world's means of defence. 'He opened not his mouth.' The great demonstrator of Truth and Love was silent before envy and hate. Peter would have smitten the enemies of his Master, but Jesus forbade him, thus rebuking resentment or animal courage. He said: 'Put up thy sword.'" Ibid., p. 48. Can we put up the sword of misguided allegiance to mortal weapons and appearances and begin to "[bring] into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ"? We must strive to see the true, Christly nature of everyone we meet. More and more we need to perceive God's expression of Himself right where man seems to be a victimized or victimizing mortal. In this way, our weapons "are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds." The strong holds of hatred, malice, insecurity, poverty, loss of dignity, and so forth, are mortal beliefs that deny the spiritual facts of God and man. But they yield, through prayer, to what God is knowing of His creation.

In a fundamental sense we experience, both bodily and otherwise, what we believe. We might say that our experience is our present state of thought externalized. Therefore our lives express to a greater degree the harmony of the divine when we exchange false beliefs, or "imaginations," for the spiritual facts of being. As we listen to and accept God's declaration "I am your Life, the creator and sustainer of your being," the belief that man is a brutal mortal, or a mortal unsustained and unprotected by God, is exchanged for a clear recognition of man's secure, loving, spiritual nature. Compassion and forgiveness are byproducts of the recognition of man's spiritual selfhood. We stop reacting to what man appears to be, but is not, as we're faithful to Christ Jesus' teaching "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." John 7:24.

A growing perception of God's harmonious spiritual universe, where every idea of Mind moves in accord with Mind, enables us to lessen our dependency on material weapons and to trust the spiritual sense and power that we already possess. And we do possess spiritual sense, dominion, and power as God's reflection.

Even the weapons of intellectualism, arrogance, self-assertion, and so forth begin to drop away as we recognize that we effortlessly have all that God gives. The book of James encourages us, "Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:4. With God giving us all, what more could we want?

Christ Jesus was sent by God to show mankind the way out of materialistic views that hold us in bondage. Jesus well understood the "I AM" and his coexistence with God. And in all things he demonstrated the supremacy of spiritual power and the safety and satisfaction that are found in total reliance on God.

A friend of mine learned a little about God's weapons late one night when he was surrounded by a group of young men. These men were reacting at the time to racial tension, and their anger was turned toward him. My friend had just left an auditorium and was walking to a parking area when the men encircled him. Everything happened very quickly All that came to his thought was that Love has no opposite sides. And with this spiritual message his fear disappeared.

Suddenly he was poked in the back. When he turned around, a large man hit him in the face as hard as he could. But my friend said that it felt as if he had only been tapped with a balloon. He didn't move at all. The young man who hit my friend looked him in the eye and walked away. Then the others walked away too. The anger and danger disappeared. My friend was just as surprised as the young men were.

If my friend had tried to use a gun or a knife, the situation could have turned out quite differently, for hate and its destructive elements seemed very real and threatening. But the simple realization that the whole scene was a lie, denying divine Love's powerful presence, melted the hate. The weapons, called fist and muscle, turned out to be harmless. The thought that Love has no opposite sides was the sword of Spirit. It was as if Love, God, had declared: "I, Love, am All. I have no knowledge of dualism, many minds, hatred, racial tension, fear, or danger. Therefore, My self-expression, My children, cannot experience them or yield to them."

We may have to walk streets where dangerous elements seem to move. Daily, our children may have to interact with some people labeled undesirable. But by adopting the mighty weapon of spiritual understanding, by wielding it in our prayers, we can begin yielding to the I am, and realize that God's government is universal, and that He maintains the well-being of His offspring. We can also realize that we are under His jurisdiction alone, and that this law of God brings peace and safety to our streets, homes, schools, communities.

Through wielding spiritual weapons of warfare, we do not have to settle for anything less than a world where fear and violence steadily diminish. God never made an unholy moment. Love never created or sanctioned evil intent. Let us rejoice that, as Mrs. Eddy has written: "Divine Love is our hope, strength, and shield. We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven." Miscellaneous Writings, p. 113.

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