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Don’t be lured into conflict

From the March 23, 2020 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


Standing in line at a local delicatessen, I was lightly nudged from behind. I had been waiting for the customer in front of the line to pay and gather her items. This didn’t seem to make any difference to the man behind me.

He began to verbally prod me to move, even if it meant crowding the person in front of me. It seemed a bit strange. I planted my feet to resist his behavior, and I also felt an unnatural urge to become confrontational. In a strained tone of voice, I explained that I was simply being patient and polite. I reasoned that just permitting him to move ahead of me would have passively excused his behavior.

He continued to try to bait me into a verbal exchange. I never felt threatened, but I was perplexed as to what was driving this man’s urgency.

It was at this point that I recognized what was happening. I was being lured into a confrontation. Christian Science identifies this pull as animal magnetism, the belief that evil is real and more powerful than good.

I took a moment to pray silently, right on the spot. Resisting the temptation to argue, I affirmed mentally that the man of God’s creating is governed by divine Mind instead of an individual human mentality, and that man expresses only good qualities, such as unselfishness, integrity, and kindness. From a spiritual perspective, we dwell harmoniously with one another.

This moment of glimpsing man’s true, spiritual nature helped me regain my composure. I felt divine Love calming me, dousing any remaining embers of defensiveness. I paid for my items, and as I left the store, I quietly and respectfully remarked to the man behind me, “I’m pretty certain at some point today you will reconsider your words and actions.” I was confident that he would respond to this appeal to his innate goodness, and that I could leave the matter with God.

Tendencies to provoke or get pulled into tussles with others do not come from God. That means they have no basis in reality. They are suggestions from mortal mind, the counterfeit of the divine Mind, posing as our own thoughts and feelings. This deceptive mortal mind creates a conflict scenario, tempts itself with the scenario, succumbs to it, and then punishes itself for not having the moral fortitude to resist. From beginning to end the conflict is an error, mortal mind’s hypnotic illusion portraying God’s children as fallen and mortal instead of upright and immortal as created by God.

Christian Science wakens mankind from the mesmeric belief that evil is as real as, and more powerful than, good. It teaches us how to resolve a problem by seeing through the illusion rather than trying to do battle with it.

Tendencies to provoke or get pulled into tussles with others do not come from God. 

The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: “In the Science of Mind, you will soon ascertain that error cannot destroy error. You will also learn that in Science there is no transfer of evil suggestions from one mortal to another, for there is but one Mind, and this ever-present omnipotent Mind is reflected by man and governs the entire universe” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 495–496).

There may be times when corrective words or actions are appropriate, but the governing motive must be to bring spiritual light to the situation for the purpose of harmonizing and healing. Understanding that we are all in the presence of God, ruled by the one, divine Mind, prevents missteps.

Immortal Mind, omnipresent good, knows all and fills all space. Accepting the presence of this Mind as filling all space everywhere, always, leaves no room for a false belief arguing opposition to omnipotent good. As we devote ourselves to putting this understanding into practice in our daily interactions with others, we yield to God’s loving care and resist fearful suggestions that we must defend ourselves by jumping into the fray. 

As we follow Christ Jesus’ teachings and example, we learn the importance of correcting the belief that man is a contentious mortal subject to animal aggression and that there are finite minds warring over whose will should prevail. Accepting infinite Mind as the only Mind or will leads us to think accurately according to the Science of the Christ, viewing ourselves and everyone else through a spiritual lens. This practice translates objects into ideas in human consciousness, reversing the false suggestion that matter has substance and intelligence. Omniscient divine Spirit is the only reality, and we can expect it to be discerned and expressed by everyone, thus transforming human thought and experience. Scripture encourages us, “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).

At moments when we’re feeling anger about injustice, frustration with others’ behavior, or disappointment over an important outcome, how does gaining authority over our reaction bring positive change? Affirming our Christly identity as God’s spiritual expression, and submitting to it, subordinates a selfish, personal view of the situation­—and we gain peace and greater clarity of thought. This is foundational to establishing harmony and finding an answer to the problems confronting us. Instead of being victimized by a circumstance or person, we are healers—that is, we reflect God’s healing power. If selfish behavior by another becomes an imposition on us, we learn not to take it personally, but rather to meet it with a charity and geniality that disarms and blesses the moment.

Living in a large and densely populated city, I have numerous opportunities every day to accommodate others, whether riding a packed subway, waiting in line, or walking on a crowded street. At the same time, I know that we are all God’s ideas, so I can expect my neighbors to think and act unselfishly, too. It is one of the many ways we each can demonstrate our relation to infinite Mind as His intelligent, considerate, harmonious expression, while seeing others in the same light.

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