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The power of unity

From the May 4, 1992 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


In a recent television interview, jazz composer George Russell spoke of the central element in his theory of musical composition that inspires all his work. It is summed up in one word: unity. At the close of the discussion, when asked if he had any particular message that he'd like to pass along to young musicians, Mr. Russell replied, "Well, live, eat, sleep, drink, think unity—especially the unity between chord and scale" (One Norway Street, The Monitor Channel).

Doesn't that statement—and I feel sure Mr. Russell intended it this way—suggest an important lesson for life and not simply the focus for a gifted composer's musical work? In a world where so much division, misunderstanding, and prejudice continue to interfere with honest efforts to establish peace, and where strife and differing opinions would so often try to interrupt necessary progress, there is clearly a need for a deeper, more lasting unity of "chord and scale."

It's a powerful metaphor really—this "unity of chord and scale." In music the chord is basically a combination of tones sounded together, while the scale constitutes a series of tones sequentially arranged in an ascending or descending pattern. Because the scale represents movement and the chord an underlying structure providing tonal richness, depth, and harmony, the resulting music can really only "go anywhere," so to speak, in a way that uplifts or inspires both musician and listener, when there is discernible unity between these two fundamental elements—chord and scale. In music, this unity cannot be merely abstract; it must be applied practically and consistently, and with understanding.

And the same is clearly true for every area of human experience. A merely theoretical unity may be something pleasant to contemplate, but it doesn't really have any lasting effect or benefit. A unity that is consciously practiced, however, in both the large and mundane affairs and relationships of people's day-to-day existence actually makes a significant difference in the quality of an individual's life. It brings healing to marriages, families, neighborhoods. It allows genuine progress to be realized for institutions and for society at large.

Real unity demonstrates a power for good that has, however, largely been overlooked in its true, spiritual dimension. Spiritual unity finds its basis in man's actual relationship to God. God, who is divine Love and the infinite intelligence that creates, maintains, and governs His children, includes within His creative, sustaining activity the constant expression of harmony. God's man, the real spiritual identity we each possess, is both witness to and beneficiary of that law of harmony.

Christ Jesus was fully aware of the inherent power of unity, and this understanding undergirded his entire ministry, including his healing work. According to the New Testament, Jesus spoke directly of his own unity with God when he declared, "I and my Father are one." And in healing others, he was undoubtedly acknowledging this same oneness with the Father to be the spiritual fact for every man, woman, and child.

It is evident that being at one with God could leave no room for any separation from good, for God is good. Disease, however, obviously claims that man can be debilitated and cut off from harmony or peace or dominion. Yet that pretentious claim is precisely what gives it the lie. In the presence of an infinitely good God, who holds His child in perfect unity with Him, there is never a moment or a place where good can be absent. In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, conveyed to the human mind by the broad array of mortal discords and evils in our world, the truth remains—and has been reasonably demonstrated through the practical results of prayer—that God's law of continuous good is more powerful than the human appearance of evil. In fact, the divine law of good constitutes the only power. This is a central lesson one learns through the study and practice of the same Christ Science on which Jesus himself relied when he was teaching and healing throughout Judea.

On one occasion a man who had been born without sight was brought to Jesus. The disciples inquired of their Master about the cause of that condition. "Who did sin," they asked, "this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus' reply indicated that his disciples had turned in the wrong direction to comprehend correctly the man's need. "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents," Jesus said, "but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." The man was not cast out of the Father's care. Rather, he too was embraced in the power of spiritual unity. He too was at one with the Father. And, accordingly, the man was healed. He could see.

Jesus realized not only that spiritual unity was essential in one's own work of Christian healing but that it must also be demonstrated among all his followers if the very mission of Christianity were finally to embrace mankind with the gospel message of universal salvation. Near the close of his ministry, Jesus prayed earnestly for his disciples, and he then extended that prayer to include anyone who would ever follow his example. "Neither pray I for these alone," Jesus said, "but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us." And then Jesus added, "That the world may believe that thou hast sent me." The confirmation the extension, the evidence, of the Saviour's purpose and mission would continue to call for spiritual unity.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, clearly recognized this same Christian need for unity that Jesus prayed for. As she was establishing the Church of Christ, Scientist, which she saw as necessary for reinstating the original healing Christianity that Jesus brought to mankind, she too had to pray for unity and to counsel her students on its essential role in the demonstration of a truly Christian community.

Through hard experience, struggle, and considerable inspiration, Mrs. Eddy came to see that neither church nor civilization could progress without oneness of thought, motive, and action. Yet she also realized that such unity couldn't depend on human will or mere well-intentioned efforts among people hoping to cooperate. She knew beyond question that there must be a spiritual basis, a spiritual animus, and then unity would actually be that power which could move mountains—of anger, disappointment, polarized opinions, or personal prejudice. Human will and the strife it engenders would have to be quieted in the presence of genuine unity. And then, as well as moving mountains, unity would actually move the Church to accomplish all that it was meant to accomplish in its healing and saving ministry to the world. In a letter to students, Mrs. Eddy would write, "I once thought that in unity was human strength; but have grown to know that human strength is weakness,—that unity is divine might, giving to human power, peace" (Miscellaneous Writings).

Clearly, the world today, its institutions, the lives of men and women everywhere, need the healing power of unity. They need its peace. And in Christ, it truly can be discovered—unity of mind and heart, of thought and action, of expectation and endeavor, of "chord and scale." This unity is worth giving everything we have and everything we are to its present demonstration.

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