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The divide that unites

From the January 13, 2020 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Divisiveness has always hampered human progress. Today is no exception. Climate change, immigration, and racism are among the large-scale problems needing unity of thought and action. But actually, there is a divide that can unite people on a path of unhampered progress.

Disagreements and competitions between human beings are caused by conflicting elements within the human mind. But the infinite, divine Mind—the one and only real Mind of everyone—has no competing or conflicting elements. The divine Mind includes and imparts only its universally good and unifying spiritual ideas. So when we turn to our divine Mind, God, in prayer and humbly listen for His guidance, we begin to see a clear divide opening in our thoughts between our spiritually true thoughts from God and the untrue elements of the human mind. Then we can cast aside those unreal, conflicting elements and entertain only the harmonizing qualities and ideas of divine intelligence, which lead to unhindered progress.

Following the divine Mind’s guidance in this way is what made Moses able to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. He led them to follow the one God, the supreme intelligence that leads the human mind to freedom. When the Red Sea—representing the warring and enslaving elements of material thinking—stood in the way of their escape, Moses, at God’s direction, raised his rod and commanded the waters to be divided, forming dry ground for a path forward. Then he commanded the Israelites to proceed forward, with their full trust in God (see Exodus 14:15–27).

Yes, the power of God, who is also divine Love, can cut right through the sea of tangled human wills and opinions that cause heartbreaking divisions between people. It’s been my experience that when I let God’s impartial love inhabit my heart and clarify my thinking, it is felt by those I’m interacting with; it has the effect of uniting human hearts and minds in bonds of mutual respect and affection that enable individuals to work together harmoniously toward satisfactory progress. And you know what? We all can learn how to let God work in us to forward this progress—in our families, schools, workplaces, and local and worldwide communities.

It happens when we quietly open ourselves up to the Word of God—which makes clear to our receptive human hearts and minds the reality and power of God’s universally good will and the unreality and powerlessness of mistaken and egotistic human aims. This approach has been invaluable to me through many years in restoring unity where divisiveness was claiming the upper hand. 

The book of Hebrews in the Bible speaks of the Word of God as “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow,” and as “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (4:12)—or as The Message has it: “His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey” (Eugene Peterson). 

This living Word of God—revealed in the Bible, and explained in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy—opens receptive human hearts to understand God as the one divine Mind, and our real identity and nature as this one Mind’s spiritual reflection. It shows us that as Mind’s intelligent and loving ideas, we are actually inseparable from divine Truth and Love, and from one another. The misperception of ourselves and others as material and finite, with many separate minds, opposing opinions, and wills, is unreal—a false sense of our true identity and nature. 

Truth divides the real from the unreal in human consciousness and unites humanity. 

As we learn the true identity of ourselves and others as God’s reflection, we can put it into practice. We can let divine Truth and Love be active in our consciousness to discern the Godlike qualities that make up our and others’ real identity—such as humility, thoughtfulness, wisdom, and unselfishness. We can do this even in the midst of misunderstandings and stalled progress. The love of God enables us to discern the unreality of negative, ungodlike qualities and to separate and discard them from our identification of ourselves and others. These silent prayers awaken love for others in our hearts, a love that others can feel right when it is needed as we listen respectfully to their point of view. Knowing and loving what’s real in individuals is how Christ Jesus healed and reformed human hearts, and how we, too, can find unity with others, and healing and progress.

In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy wrote: “Spirit imparts the understanding which uplifts consciousness and leads into all truth.... Understanding is the line of demarcation between the real and unreal” (p. 505). This spiritual understanding of God and of ourselves sets us on “dry ground”—a clear path on which to go forward together with love, cooperation, and harmony to solve sticky human problems without hindrance from opposing opinions and wills.

As we subject our own motives to God’s purifying influence, we more readily see and appreciate the good motives of others, know that no one can be otherwise governed, and see harmony bloom between previously opposing individuals. 

Putting our full trust in God—letting the divine Truth Christ Jesus taught and practiced work in our thought to divide between God’s truth and the false beliefs and opinions of the human mind—takes consecration, prayer, and practice. But this trust in God’s good will, coupled with universal love, builds respect and mutually beneficial cooperation between people. In this way, unity and progress are forwarded in an ever-broadening embrace of individuals near and far through our prayers. It can do this for anyone as they grow in their understanding and practice of the divine Truth that divides the real from the unreal in human consciousness and unites humanity. This approach can also lead to cooperation in solving those larger problems that affect all humanity.

Barbara Vining

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