Defending our cities

We hear daily about our cities’ woes. Stories of injustice, violence, and criminal activity seem at flood tide in many cities worldwide. 

At one point, some houses in my own neighborhood had been broken into and robbed. Neighbors felt invaded, disturbed, even violated. The neighborhood was on edge. Several of us met one night to consider how to defend our homes; we decided to form a neighborhood watch.

In addition to taking these practical steps with my neighbors, I decided to pray. I thought about the Bible record of Nehemiah, who saw his city, Jerusalem, facing a dire, potentially deadly, crisis (see Nehemiah, chapters 2–6). He addressed the rulers and citizens of the city, voicing the need to rebuild the surrounding wall to protect the city from its foes. But more importantly, his faithful prayers led him to recognize that the only sure protection is God. Although neighboring rulers scorned the Israelites’ efforts to rebuild the wall, eventually employing threats, subterfuge, and unfounded rumors to try to halt their progress, Nehemiah courageously stayed the course. As the work began, he said to his enemies, “The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem” (Nehemiah 2:20). To me this meant that God has all power, and that evil had no current presence in Jerusalem, no right to a future presence, and no evidence of a past presence. 

God’s laws bless one and all.

As part of our neighborhood watch, some of us agreed to walk the streets after dark, to be an active presence, hoping to make the neighborhood less inviting to criminals. In preparing for these walks, I pondered God’s, divine Mind’s, universal government, illumination, and protection of all its ideas. Doing so enabled me to silence intruding fears, denying them any legitimacy—now, in the future, or even in the past. 

Christ Jesus said of his followers, “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:29). No one can be pulled away from God. And since man is created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27), he or she includes no criminal element, no envy, and no lust for the goods of others. All of God’s children are fully satisfied with the limitless riches He provides. 

Moreover, I reasoned that “error of any kind cannot hide from the law of God,” as we read in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy (p. 95). All of these truths are laws of safety and justice to our communities, including to any would-be wrongdoers. God’s laws bless one and all.

About this time, my company moved me to another city seven hundred miles away. My family would join me when the school year was over. One evening after work, I turned on the television and foolishly watched a dreadful movie that was full of criminality. I realized I couldn’t go to bed with my thought full of those cruel images. So, I prayed earnestly for the next two hours, until I felt mentally cleansed of the grime of crime. Evil cannot even exist, let alone flourish, in the omnipresence and omnipotence of good. I felt at peace knowing that God reigned and that evil had no portion, no right, and no memorial—in my thought or anywhere.

That same night, my wife was awakened by a phone call from someone claiming to be a college friend of mine. My wife explained that I was out of town, but as she began to fall asleep again, she felt something had been wrong about the call. She dialed 911, but just after she gave our address, the phone went dead. (This was before cellphones.) The criminal was in our backyard. He had attached a handset to our phone line and made the call from behind our house before cutting the line. 

I learned the necessity of watching my thinking, not taking in images of crime or cruelty.

The alert 911 dispatcher, upon hearing the sudden silence, quickly sent a nearby police car to our house. The car made a silent approach, but the blinking lights caused the thief to run off. However, he had not yet put on his gloves, and he had left behind his wire cutters. The police were able to get his fingerprints and very soon arrested him. The break-ins stopped, and many of our neighbors’ stolen goods were recovered from his storage area.

Of course, I was deeply grateful for the protection of my wife and daughters and for the return of peace to our streets. I knew that the thief also was protected; as God’s child, he certainly was not a criminal at heart, and he would not be blessed by continuing in crime. Correction and discipline could lead him to discern his true God-given innocence and sinless nature. 

From this experience, I also learned the necessity of watching my thought, not taking in images of crime or cruelty, and resisting the lie that God’s likeness can become a victim or victimizer. We need to fortify our thinking every day with the understanding of our sure safety in our Father-Mother God, omnipotent Love. And this safety embraces everyone—family, friends, and even seeming foe, alike.

Our cities need alert watchers. Science and Health tells us that “. . . wicked minds will endeavor to find means by which to accomplish more evil; but those who discern Christian Science will hold crime in check. They will aid in the ejection of error. They will maintain law and order, and cheerfully await the certainty of ultimate perfection” (p. 96). Our prayers enable us to do this, and to recognize our right, duty, and authority to spiritually defend our cities, positively and joyously.

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