A spiritual response to political division and upheaval with Mark Sappenfield

How can we address gaping political divides and the resulting turmoil? The Editor of The Christian Science Monitor offers a starting point for prayer in this short podcast.

If we look out at the world of politics represented by recent events in the United States, what do we see? We see division: disputed elections, angry voters storming Congress, and violence. Admittedly, division is a tough thing to address. You can’t legislate against it. You can’t declare war on it. You can’t outlaw it. So how do we get out of this spiral that we’re in?

While there’s no policy we can pass, no political platform that can do anything—and it seems like things are just getting worse—there is still hope. Because the lack of solution should actually awaken us to what we really need to be focusing on.

If we’re putting our faith in material processes such as policies and legislation, we’re going to be disappointed. The answer is really in our hearts—is purely spiritual. So, how can we see division through a spiritual lens?

Sometimes I like to do a little exercise in which I assign God a number—like in a math problem. And you can’t think about that very long without realizing that the number you have to ascribe to God is one. There’s no other number you can give God. You can’t have two gods. If you have two gods, then you have none. There’s only one God, which means there’s only one creation—and that creation is spiritual, harmonious, and whole, the reflection of that God, the creation of that God.

Jesus said, “If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24). And if you look at material thinking, there are twos everywhere. Twoness seems to be the basic building block of mortal-mind-based thinking. So much of what we see sets itself up as binary, as one or the other: man or woman, Black or white, Republican or Democrat, capitalism or socialism. You could go on and on. And what does this do? It tempts us to choose a side. It tempts us into believing that things are divided, that good is divided, and that it’s up to us as human beings to try and unite it.

We overcome the temptation of mortal twoness through the peace of divine oneness.

Think about it in terms of the Bible: What was the first two in the Bible? It was the tree of good and evil, the tree of knowledge in the Adam and Eve story in the book of Genesis. In that story, Adam and Eve were tempted to believe they needed two—both good and evil. The serpent said one wasn’t good enough. But isn’t that the core mistake of mortal thinking?

The very first act of biological life is the division of the cell. Division is baked into matter. If we never rise above matter-based thinking, then we can never rise above division. Division and mortal thinking spring from the same root.

Spiritual thinking is the perfect cure because it knows only one God, the oneness of grace, humble faith and moral confidence that Jesus taught. It frees us to live as witnesses to one God, good, as Isaiah said (see Isaiah 43:10).

At the last supper, Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). This peace is deeper than what mortal thinking can possibly know, and it protected and exalted Jesus amid the cruelest tribulation. It can do the same for us. We overcome the temptation of mortal twoness through the peace of divine oneness, which can only be known spiritually.

So when we see scenes like the recent events in Washington, it can be easy to think that our thoughts and prayers don’t matter. That we need to turn to material means to fight for what we think is right or tune out to avoid feeling depressed or scared. But the past few years have shown the exact opposite to be true. In fact, it becomes clearer and clearer by the day that there is no mortal solution to division.

But that also means the solution is in each of us as children of God—in seeing ourselves and all others in this singularly spiritual light and in holding fast to the oneness, the allness, the onlyness of God, good.

To read a transcript of this Sentinel Watch, go to cssentinel.com/a-spiritual-response-to-political-division

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