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RESPOND TO THE CHRIST LIGHT AS SAUL DID TO DISCOVER THE IMMORTALITY OF GOD’S CREATION!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

Mortals and Immortals”
for May 9-15, 2022

by Kathy Fitzer, Lake St. Louis, MO
kathyfitzer@gmail.com


INTRODUCTION: Throughout this Lesson we have the opportunity to learn from Saul’s transformation to Paul and his on-going experience as he preaches Christ to both Jews and Gentiles. He teaches them (and us) how to leave the old mortal view for the new view of immortality.  The path wasn’t always easy.  But, lives were changed, God’s Word was spread, Christianity was established, and the true nature of man was revealed through healing.  I invite you to consider what it means to accept the Christ light into our consciousness, and let it shine through us to help others know God.  As Truth is revealed, the limited, counterfeit mortal view is put off, and man’s true, immortal nature is revealed.

THE GOLDEN TEXT has been translated: “we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” (II Corinthians 5: 20, NLT). As I read this Lesson, I found myself wondering what more I could be doing to have a similar influence on the world that Jesus’ followers and Paul had, so long ago. The KJV says, “we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” I invite you to join me in thinking more deeply about what it means to be “reconciled” to God — and to help others be reconciled to God. One source describes reconciliation simply as “restoring a right relationship to God.” I found this article from the Christian Science Sentinel helpful: https://sentinel.christianscience.com/issues/1964/7/66-28/reconciliation.  You may, too.

RESPONSIVE READING:  Once Saul was converted, he took the responsibility of sharing the good news of Jesus’ message very seriously.  It was important to him for people to realize that he wasn’t just preaching empty words. He was communicating the spirit of the Word.  As he said, “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” … “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”  Although many in Corinth had accepted the teachings of Christ Jesus and were letting their lives serve as examples of this teaching, they were, ironically, also having second thoughts about Paul’s legitimacy.  Paul tried to show them that they were actually evidence of the truth of what he was preaching. As The Good Word translates verse 3, “It’s clear that you are Christ’s letter, written as a result of our ministry. You are a letter written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, a letter written not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (II Corinthians 3:3).

It occurs to me that some of us (or those we know and love) may, at times, have doubted the efficacy of Christian Science, even while our (or their) lives have been shaped by its teaching.  Perhaps, after Sunday school, or during a dark time, we (or others) have drifted away. But, the Christ is ever active, and ever present.  In some sense, anyone ever exposed to, and influenced by, this Truth is an epistle of Christ — the truth of being having been written on the heart, never truly leaving consciousness.

As we think about sharing the teachings of Christ (sharing Christian Science), we need to remember that our actions are heard much louder than our words.  And, we need to understand that any and all ability that we have comes from God.  It’s not of our own making. As Paul wrote, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God” (II Corinthians 3: 6). That is true in every area of life. The how of what we do is much more important than the what.  And starting with God — with Spirit — is essential!  Let’s be careful to listen, and be willing to think outside the box of a mortal model.  That doesn’t mean we throw out all tradition.  We just don’t do something because it is tradition!  We trust God (Spirit) to lead, and reveal the immortal (unlimited) nature of all things. The Christ has lifted off the veil of mortality so that the glory (the shine) of God, that was seen in Christ Jesus, can be seen in us — and in all those who follow him.


SECTION 1: THE LIGHT OF CHRIST DISPLACES THE DARKNESS AND REVEALS THE IMMORTALITY OF MAN

 Isaiah tells Israel (and us) that there is nothing to fear, because God has redeemed His people — released them from servitude and delivered them from harm or trouble. What a source of comfort it is to realize that God knows each of His children — calls each one by name, claiming them as His own (citation B2, Isaiah 43: 1)!  Although things seemed dark at the time of Isaiah’s writing, here was a promise that the Christ would come — and, in fact, is always present (cit. B3, Isa. 42: 1, 5-7).

 

That prophesy was fulfilled by the coming of Christ Jesus. He enlightened thought and introduced a new covenant where the law of God was written on individual hearts. He opened blind eyes and freed people from imprisoning mortal beliefs. Before he was crucified, Jesus prayed that God’s light would shine so strongly through him that his life would “glorify” God — the light he expressed would turn people to God so they know Him. Today — as in Jesus’ time — people are always looking for ways to live a longer and more fulfilling life. Jesus explained that the way to experience eternal life is to know God and His Christ (cit. B4, John 17: 1,3).

Paul elaborates on that idea, explaining that the Kingdom of God isn’t inherited through flesh and blood — through mortal means.  Rather, thought needs to be clothed in incorruptible, immortal thoughts — following Jesus’ example.  Victory is assured if we are steadfast in following Jesus’ example (cit. B5, I Corinthians 15: 50, 53, 57, 58).

I think it’s helpful to think about clothing thought, because it is a positive action. We’re not having to change — or fix — something.  We’re just clothing a naked sense of things with what is true.  Mary Baker Eddy says, “mortals are the counterfeits of immortals” (cit. S5, 476: 1, 4). A counterfeit is a false representation of the real thing.  It can look identical to the original, but lacks legitimacy!   A counterfeit isn’t a failed real … it was never real!  Similarly, “mortals aren’t fallen children of God” (cit. S5, 476: 13-15). So, we’re not working to fix up  a mortal any more than we’re trying to fix a counterfeit bill.  We are disposing of the false — putting off the erroneous mortal concept — so the real thing (the Christ ideal) is able to be seen (cit. S6, 430: 3-5)


SECTION 2: BECOME NEW BY RESPONDING TO THE LIGHT OF CHRIST

My sense is that Saul wasn’t a bad person — just misdirected!  He thought he was doing the right thing by persecuting Christians. But, once he saw the light — literally and figuratively — he became Christianity’s strongest advocate.  Whichever side he was championing, he was all in!  The Christ light that shone in Paul’s consciousness was so bright that it literally blinded him. Metaphorically he became blind to his old beliefs and was ready to exchange them for a new understanding.  His baptism washed away the old misperceptions, and purified his thought (cit. B7, Acts 9: 1-5, 8, 10-12, 17, 18). What humility he expressed to do that about face as “he beheld for the first time the true idea of Love…” (cit. S8, 326: 23).  Later he preached that love!

Sometimes it takes getting hit over the head, so to speak, to wake us up!  Other times it’s just a gradual, gentle awakening.  Either way, all that really matters is that we wake up … that we give up the mortal, counterfeit view of things, and see pure reality (cit. S10, 409: 20).  I find it helpful to think about Saul/Paul when I’m tempted to feel guilty about how I’ve acted or responded to people or situations in the past. The Christ light is continually shining and illumining thought. So it’s natural for us to grow, and our understanding to expand. If, after the conversion, Saul had wasted time ruminating about the past, he couldn’t have achieved all the good he did. The question to ask ourselves is, “Are we responding to the light?  Is thought giving up the mortal model, rejecting mortal reactions and embracing the immortal?”  Then we can trust that we — and those that we may have previously hurt — are “‘hid with Christ in God,’ — with Truth in divine Love, where human sense hath not seen man” (cit. S11, 325: 10).  And, it’s all good!  I recently saw on a sign  … “don’t ruin the good of today by thinking about the pain of yesterday.”  Makes sense!


SECTION 3:  HAVE THE COURAGE TO FACE TRIALS.  THE VICTORY WILL FOLLOW!

I suppose it’s understandable that Saul had trouble being taken seriously in Damascus immediately after his conversion.  Although he brought together references from the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) in such a strong and logical way that the Jews really couldn’t argue, that didn’t mean they bought in on it, either. They threatened to kill him, waiting at the gates to capture him. There were Jews, however, that did accept Paul’s argument and became his followers. They saved him by lowering him in a basket through an opening in the city wall The Jews weren’t the only ones confused.  Although Paul was eager to unite with Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem, they were afraid to believe he had really changed!  However, when Barnabas (a follower of Paul — and later a travel companion) vouched for him, he was accepted. Once the fear had lifted, the churches flourished (cit. B9, Acts 9: 19-27).  Victory for all!

Just as Saul/Paul was undeterred by the anger and fear he faced as he advocated for Christ, Truth, so courage is also demanded of us.  As Mary Baker Eddy says, “The determination to hold Spirit in the grasp of matter is the persecutor of Truth and Love. …. Error repeats itself.  The trials encountered by prophet, disciple, and apostle, ‘of whom the world was not worthy,’ await in some form, every pioneer of truth” (Cit. S14, 28: 6, 22).  She goes on to say, “if you launch your bark upon the ever-agitated but healthful waters of truth, you will encounter storms.”  But she encourages us to not be deterred.  We will “win and wear the crown” (cit. S15, 254: 27).  We can be very encouraged by the example that Paul and the other disciples gave us.  Today, our world seems totally immersed in matter — citing innumerable material causes, material measurements, and material solutions that would try to govern our lives. There are constantly new ways to track our mortal patterns with smart watches and smart phones, and smart rings and bands.  We must be careful not to be absorbed by it.  Take a stand to reject the mortal model and demonstrate that truly man is immortal — whole, complete, and responsive to God alone.  People will likely pressure us to conform to the more popular types of thought.  But, as we reason rightly, we will grow our way out of the false beliefs of the Adam dust man.  And as we share what we know through words and action, the receptive heart will hear, and have the way opened to them, as well.  Thus, the victory of the crown of dominion man will be won and worn. (“… win and wear the crown.” SH, 254:31)


SECTION 4:  CHRISTIANITY IS ESTABLISHED ON THE ROCK OF CHRIST

Just as a little background to help put citation B11, Acts 11:1, 21-26 in perspective … Antioch was located in the south-central area of modern-day Turkey.  It “was home to many Diaspora Jews—those deported through captivity who had chosen to remain living outside Israel but maintained their Jewish faith. These Hebrews engaged in business and enjoyed full rights of citizenship in the free city of Syrian Antioch. Through them, many Gentiles in Antioch were drawn to Judaism and, eventually, Christianity. … The intense persecution that broke out in Jerusalem after the death of Stephen prompted some Jewish believers to flee to Syrian Antioch (Acts 11:19). When leaders in the Jerusalem church heard of the considerable number of Gentile conversions taking place in Antioch, they sent Barnabas there to minister to the growing congregation. Barnabas sought out the apostle Paul in Tarsus and brought him to Antioch, where together they taught the mixed assembly of Jewish and Gentile believers for a whole year. It was here at Antioch of Syria where believers were first called Christians” (https://www.gotquestions.org/Antioch-in-the-Bible.html).

I love the idea that the good news of Christ first spread in Antioch simply by individual Jewish converts sharing with their neighbors — including Gentiles — what they had discovered to be true.  There’s a good lesson for us there!   I speak for myself when I say that I can improve in that area. I suspect I’m not alone! I try to let my light shine … but reticence or shyness or whatever still tempts. I invite you to join me in trying to do better.  When a newcomer comes to our church or to a lecture — or when we have the opportunity to share Christian Science wherever we find ourselves, let’s not hesitate to acknowledge the receptive thought and “give them a cup of cold water in Christ’s name and never fear the consequences.” (SH p. 570:16) Someone recently shared with me the nurturing love that she first felt from a Reading Room attendant, and later from folks at a Christian Science church she was attending. Christian Science changed her life.  She, in turn, is sharing this blessed Science with others.

I was thinking that after the seed has been planted, the Barnabas and Paul of our day may look like Christian Science periodicals, Science and Health, lectures, Reading Rooms, church services, practitioners and teachers.  But, we can’t forget to do our part!  Thinking more about the definition of Church in the Glossary of our textbook, we see that church is a living power — not just a place to go on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Even in those areas where there presently isn’t a physical church, can’t we each actively express the idea of church as we look for opportunities to be “found elevating the race and rousing the dormant understanding … thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick” (cit. S19, 593:14)?  How can we possibly keep this amazing gift to ourselves?  “Christian Science and Christianity are one” (cit. S20, 372: 17-18).  Let us, then, be as on fire as the early Christians were — and bless our world!


SECTION 5:  THE HEALING EFFICACY OF CHRISTIANITY AND CHRISTIAN SCIENCE

This section focuses on healing.  The example is shared of Paul healing a man from Lystra who had been a cripple his entire life (cit. B13, Acts 14:8-10).  He was listening to Paul speak. Perceiving the man’s faith, Paul commanded him to stand up. Not only did the man stand up, but he leaped and walked!  What an example for us in terms of expectation — at two levels.  Do we have the courage when we are praying for others — or for our world — to speak with authority and expect healing to take place?  And, do we expect to respond to treatment — that we receive from others or give ourselves — as this man obviously did, not hesitating to take action?

I have a couple of experiences that illustrate the validity of taking this kind of stand from both the perspective of practitioner and patient.  First, as a patient.  I apologize if I have previously shared this example, but it meant so much to me.  I was in Egypt a few years ago with my husband and some friends.  I suddenly felt very ill and weak.  It was the beginning of what we expected to be a rather strenuous tour.  We questioned whether we would need to fly home rather than continuing with our plans.  Gratefully, I was able to email a practitioner.  She quickly and lovingly responded, shared some ideas, and said she would treat me.  What I remember is that I didn’t really focus on any of the specific ideas. I just felt such a conviction that I could trust the effect of the Christian Science treatment being given, as I would trust the effect of going to Jesus (or Paul) for healing.  Almost immediately I felt relief.  I was able to eat dinner, have a good sleep and climb to the top inside the Great Pyramid with no ill effect the next day.  The authority of God is as sound today as it has always been.

And, then, as a practitioner.  I had just started making myself available to help others through prayer.  I had a young family and was busy fixing dinner when a call came in that the daughter of a friend was experiencing severe flu-like symptoms.  Although it is often good to go off and be quiet in prayer, that didn’t seem possible for me to do this time.  So, I continued to make dinner with my two young ones at my side, but I reached out to God with all my heart and felt the authority of Christ declaring that this dear one was whole and untouched and could not suffer!  She was under the control of Mind!!  I felt such conviction — and no concern or fear.  The phone rang again very shortly, saying that all symptoms were gone and the child was fine.  And she remained that way.  To say I was grateful is an understatement.  I’d love to say that all healings have been that quick.  But, experiences like this show us it is possible and that gives me hope, and a determination to continue to believe and hold to what is true! As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Christianity is again demonstrating the Life that is Truth, and the Truth that is Life, by the apostolic work of casting out error and healing the sick” (cit. S21, 97:29-32).

Evidence of the power of God to heal runs throughout the Bible.  The Psalmist speaks of God enlightening our darkness — delivering us from all kinds of difficulties and making the seeming impossible possible (cit. B12, Psalm 18: 28, 29, 33).  Christian Science — being a Science — establishes the how of healing.  The last citation in this section tells us that we need to “look beyond fading, finite forms” in order to “gain the true sense of things.”  We need to maintain our gaze “in the unsearchable realm of Mind.”  And, “we must look where we would walk, and we must act as possessing all power from Him in whom we have our being” (cit. S26, 264: 7). Even before the evidence changes, we can — and must — hold thought fixed on the perfect model and move forward with expectation and authority.


SECTION 6:  IMMORTALITY UNBOUNDED BY MORTALITY

God is knowable — at hand.  Paul acknowledged that the people of Athens were extremely religious (translated “too superstitious” in the KJV).  But, they did not yet know the God that Paul knew to be omnipotent and ever-present.  The Athenians had altars to many gods, including one “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD”.  They were covering all their bases.  But, the God that Paul revealed wasn’t just another god that they needed to search for.  Paul taught them about the God of Spirit, in whom “we live, and move, and have our being” (cit. B15, Acts 17: 22-25, 28).  This was a very different concept than ones previously held.  But, how freeing!

Thinking of God this way demands that we have to think of ourselves differently.  If we are living, moving, and having our being in God — in Spirit, in Mind — we must be immortal (limitless and incapable of destruction) because God is limitless and incapable of destruction.  As we read in Science and Health, “God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis” (cit. S30, 258:11-15). That is soooo freeing!  Paul spoke of the new man.  This newness allows us to leave behind previously accepted limitations, and to get out of whatever box or set of labels we’ve accepted for ourselves or others.

Immortality isn’t a vague intangible.  It is the reality of our being.  As we reject the belief that we are mortal and trapped by matter in any form — a human body, a bad relationship, a body of government or business, limited resources, etc., we are free to see (and experience) our immortal nature that is our only nature, here and now.  To whatever extent we glimpse, and then come to understand, the Science of creation, the true, spiritual, immortal nature of all reality will appear.  The mortal doesn’t become immortal. It was always just a counterfeit.  Rather, the limited view is exchanged for the unlimited view. Man’s spiritual nature that has always been present, though hidden by the mist of mortal belief, is now seen.  That’s what we call healing — which truly is simply the revealing of God’s universe, in which we do live, and move and have our being.  It is not out of reach.  Our eyes can be opened, just as Saul’s were!


A Ken Cooper POETIC PRELUDE related to this Bible Lesson was POSTED on CedarS INSPIRATION website & was EMAILED TO THOSE WHO SUBSCRIBE FOR IT HERE.



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