A while back, in Chicago, we saw the play Both Your Houses, by Maxwell Anderson, at Remy Bumppo theater. This play was written in 1933 and presented scenes of a congressional committee hard at work – at work churning out legislation to benefit its own self-interest, that is! Performed today, this play still captures much of what the public says it dislikes about congress.
"Generally speaking, voters believe that Congress as a body is lower than the ocean floor. It is the least-trusted public institution in the United States, according to most surveys. Just look at this astounding Gallup poll from June: Only 7 percent of respondents said they had a great deal or a lot of confidence in Congress. That’s so few that the Gallup editors don’t even have room to write the number on the bar graph – they just sort of draw a green smudge down at the bottom and leave it at that." (Peter Grier, Most US voters now dislike own congressmen. Will they vote them out? Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 5, 2014)
We don't have to believe that this state of affairs is unresolvable. We can pray about it and expect good results. There was one new congressional upstart in the play who worked to dissolve self-interest. On our part, instead of angry or vengeful thoughts launched toward the other side, we have the silent, spiritual means of love and prayer to impersonalize and defeat partisan shenanigans.
In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy defines atonement this way: "Atonement is the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love." She breaks down the word "atonement" into three words: at-one-ment. This captures both the truth and the goal for living a good life – that we can never be separated from God, good, and that we need to strive to live in a way that echos this oneness with God.
The play Both Your Houses pointed out the less than spectacular way some human laws fully bring about true change in human behavior. Commitment to following God and the inspiration to do it – the Christ – are needed to fully change action to be at-one with God.
Jesus taught the ultimate dissolving of self-interest when he laid down all self-will in facing crucifixion. "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." (Hebrews 10: 9) He knew God's plan for him was entirely good. The only real reforming power of Spirit comes when all demands of self-interest, that seem to rule the heart, are replaced by readiness to accept God's direction and let divine will motivate our thought and action. This expresses true loving – even of one's so-called enemies!
Jesus healed Zacchaeus, a tax collector, who was motivated by self-interest. (Luke 19:1-10) The healing caused Zacchaeus to see his corrupt ways and commit to restitution and moving in accord with God's goodness. Jesus had uncovered his true, God-created identity. It was good, selfless and honest. That's a model for our lives today!