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JUST BE THE EFFORTLESS OUTPOURING OF LOVE!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Man”
for August 29 –September 4, 2022

by Christie C. Hanzlik, C.S. in Boulder, CO
ccern@mac.com • 720-331-9356 • christiecs.com


As a special invitation, feel free to RSVP to hear Christie’s talk on September 17th at the Annual Meeting of Broadview, a Christian Science Nursing facility. You can find more information at www.csbroadview.org


INTRODUCTION

God is not a person with a body. No matter how many times we state this truth, it is still tempting to think of God as a person. People seem to want to fit God into a corporeal form (a  body with an outline that is in one location) that we can understand and relate to. But this reductionist understanding of God is wrong. It is problematic because it makes us limit what God is. And it is problematic because it limits our understanding of what we are, what “man” is. (Note that in the context of the Bible Lesson “man” is not intended as a gendered term.) This week’s Lesson on “Man” expands on ways in which we can think of “man,” which, in turn, enables us to conceive of God more expansively and accurately.

If we were in a museum admiring a beautiful piece of art, we would not think that the art is the artist. Nor would we wonder whether the artist looks like the art, is inside of the art, or otherwise confuse the art with the artist. Instead, we know that the artwork is a reflection of the artist’s talent. The art is not the artist. The artwork is a reflection of the artist; the image and likeness conceived by the artist. The artist conceived of the art, and gave birth to it. In this way, the art is the outpouring, the offspring, the child of the artist. But would we limit the artist by looking at the art and saying that the artist must look like the art?  No. The art is the reflection–the expression and manifestation of thought–from the artist.

Clearly, I am drawing an analogy between art and the artist, and man’s relationship to God.  As we relate these ideas to this week’s Bible Lesson on “Man,” we can see that man is the reflection of divine Mind in the same way that art reflects the artist. We do not think that man–the reflection of divine Mind–is actually divine Mind, nor do we wonder whether divine Mind is somehow contained within man. And we don’t look at what we see as man and then try to figure out what divine Mind looks like. To understand more about man, just as when we want to learn more about artwork, we look to divine Mind. In other words, the more we seek to understand divine Mind as the source of all inspiration and expression, the better we can understand man…us.

There are limits to the analogy of the artist and the artwork being like God and man.  For one, an artist is still a person who can walk away from a piece of art, so we haven’t gotten away from an anthropomorphic misconception. In fact, every analogy of spiritual concepts is inherently limited because we are taking infinite concepts and putting them into limited symbols. And yet, analogies and symbols are necessary to help us understand, bit by bit, the unlimited and infinite nature of God. In other words, it seems as though we need many different analogies–ways of conceiving–God and man in order to break free from a limited view. Fortunately for us, this week’s Bible Lesson on “man” does just this…it offers multiple ways of expanding our conception of the relationship between God and man.


GOLDEN TEXT and RESPONSIVE READING

The Golden Text, or main idea, of the Bible Lesson, introduces the idea that we are the “children” of God.”  (GT, Deuteronomy 14:1) This idea establishes the fact that we belong to God, derive from God, and cannot be separated from God. Like a child is bound to their parents, we are bound to God.

The analogy of being the child of God means more than a comparison to a human child who ultimately goes around separately from their parents, and ultimately leaves home and is off on their own.  No. That would be a limited way to conceive of the child-parent analogy for man-God. Instead, we can think of the child (man) belonging to and being the outpouring of God.

The Responsive Reading contains many statements about the child-parent relationship of man and God. It reminds us that we can better understand ourselves as belonging to God as children as we study the words and works of Christ Jesus. As we read in Galatians, ”For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

In Bible times, birth order was important for establishing the hierarchy and importance of a child and how the child would inherit from the parent. If we applied this human law of inheritance to God and man, it would imply that only certain people were worthy of God’s full blessing and that others are left out. This exclusionary way of thinking of God as the Father of a particular group of people was common throughout the Old Testament. Christ Jesus’ teaching overturned this fallacy, and established that we are all joint-heirs with Christ–the true understanding of infinite Love’s universal comfort. In other words, we all have unlimited access to the comfort of Christ–the true understanding of divine Love.

The “Bible Lens Research” in the Christian Science Sentinel explains that in Galatians, “the Apostle Paul is likening Christians to children, who need supervision and instruction until they reach maturity. In this metaphor, Jewish law is the guardian or tutor; Christ’s redemptive action is the heritage.” (https://sentinel.christianscience.com/columns/bible-lens) In other words, just as we can be alert to not think of God as person, we can be equally alert to not thinking of Christ as person. Christ is more than a mere person. Christ is the activity and awareness of divine Love’s ever-presence and omnipotence, which was best understood, embodied, exemplified, and demonstrated by Christ Jesus.  (citation S3, 482:19–22)

Christ Jesus helped the world to understand that there is no hierarchy in divine Love, and that we are all worthy of divine Mind’s full attention. Infinite Love does not run out of love for each child, each of us. And there are not limited blessings from unlimited and infinite Spirit. When we want to feel more of our connection to divine Love, we can focus on ourselves as the children of God–the source of unlimited and infinite blessing. We would not want to confuse this with thinking of God as a human parent who might seem to have limited affection and limited time. No, we belong to God, infinite Love, that has the tenderness, inspiration, strength and infinite capacity to know and bless and inspire each of us in just the way that we need it, even before we know we need it, just as Christ Jesus demonstrated. (RR, Galatians 3:26, 29; 4:1, 2, 4–7; Ephesians 1:3, 5, 11, 12)

For more on Mary Baker Eddy’s correction of thinking of God as person, see Rudimental Divine Science, pp. 1:10; 2:7–21)


SECTION 1: The relationship of oneness

Section 1 further explores the parent-child analogy for God and man, and names God as Father-Mother of all creation, including us. Two things that I am keeping in mind as I read this section are…

1) When I think of God as Father-Mother, I need to be extra alert to the tendency to think of God as a person…”Father-Mother” does not mean a person, it means an all-loving and all-powerful source of all existence.

2) It seems that not everyone has a positive relationship with their human parents, nor does everyone even know their human parents, so it is extremely important when describing God as Father-Mother that I don’t look to human examples of parenting to know what God is like, but rather I should look to an all-encompassing and perfect sense of incorporeal Father-Mother and strive to understand the perfect Parent as synonymous to omnipresent Love.

These two points serve as reminders to not start with a human model to reason out what God is…this would lead to a limited and corporeal sense of God. Rather, we can start with an expanded understanding of God to reason out what man is. “In divine Science,” Mary Baker Eddy explains, “God and the real man are inseparable as divine Principle and idea.” (citcit. S2, 476:4) So, as we know God as divine Principle, we can then reason that man is the idea–the offspring, the child–of divine Principle. Divine Principle includes goodness, harmony, and light.

God is the unlimited source of all goodness, harmony, and light.  And we are this goodness, harmony, and light.

Mary Baker Eddy describes God as “Father-Mother” to indicate God’s “tender relationship” with us.  Our relationship to God is not like a relationship to a cold and feelingless physical force like gravity. Instead, it is tender.

And yet it is important to remember that the relationship between God and man is not about two separate entities having a relationship. Man is the entity of God. Man is the expression, the idea, of divine Principle. There is no separation between God and man, just as there is no separation between the sun and its rays, Principle and its idea. Man is the reflection of God, meaning that man is the outpouring of God like artwork is the outpouring of the artist, or a ray is the outpouring of the sun.

As Mary Baker Eddy states, man is “the generic term for all that reflects God’s image and likeness; the conscious identity of being as found in Science, in which man is the reflection of God, or Mind, and therefore is eternal; that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single quality underived from Deity; that which possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of his own, but reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker.” (cit. S5, 475:7)

Just as great artwork reflects the talent of the artist, man reflects the greatness of God. As Mary Baker Eddy states, “[Divine Love] fashions all things, after [Love’s] own likeness. Life is reflected in existence, Truth in truthfulness, God in goodness, which impart their own peace and permanence….Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality, the infinite Father-Mother God.”  (cit. S6, 516:9–12, 21)  Again, the phrase Father-Mother God helps us to understand the tender relationship between God and us, but is not referring to two separate entities. Man is the entity, the reflection, of God.  This is the relationship of oneness.


SECTION 2: Creation is beginning-less oneness, not ever twoness

As we come to understand the oneness of God and man, we see that God and man are not two separate entities, but that man is the outpouring, the reflection of divine Principle. The oneness of God and man fundamentally shifts the way we think of creation. If we think of God and man as separate and disconnected entities, it would be tempting to think of a god who exists in a void and then snaps its fingers to create man out of nothing. No.There never was a moment like this. There never was a moment in which God existed but man did not exist. There never was a start-point to man. Man, the outpouring of God, has always existed because God has always existed. God is, by definition, that which has no starting point.

There never was a start point to man. Divine Spirit has always existed and so the outpouring, the offspring, of Spirit has always existed. Here is some creative word substitution to bring home this point using Mary Baker Eddy’s statement on our spiritual origin: “In Science [we are] the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute [our] ancestry. [Our] origin is not, like that of mortals [a word for a being that has a start point] nor [do we]  pass through [limited] conditions prior to reaching intelligence. Spirit is [our] primitive and ultimate source of being; God is [our] Father [like a source, but  not a person], and Life is the law of [our] being.” (cit. S7, 63:5)

The second section connects the idea of creation to the theme of reflection, describing the reflection–the outpouring–of Spirit.  Just as great art is the reflection of a great artist, inspired man is the reflection of infinite Spirit.  As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Identity is the reflection of Spirit, the reflection in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love. Soul is the substance, Life, and intelligence of man, which is individualized, but not in matter. Soul can never reflect anything inferior to Spirit.” (cit. s9, 477:20)

It is crucial that we do not think of reflection as connoting two-ness, like a man looking into a mirror and seeing a separate image of himself.  In divine Science, reflection is about one-ness.  As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “So far as the scientific statement as to man is understood, it can be proved and will bring to light the true reflection of God — the real man, or the new man (as St. Paul has it).” (cit. S11, 300:9)  So, again, in divine Science, reflection is about one-ness.


SECTION 3: Chet’s Chickens and the tender relationship between God and man

Section 3 uses Christ Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son returning to the forgiving father to illustrate the tender relationship between God and man. And it also includes the part about the older brother being upset by the father (God) bestowing gifts on the younger son, who had been so wasteful and sinful, when the older brother had been so faithful all along and got nothing.  (cit. B10, Luke 15:1-31)

The ”Bible Lens Research” in the CS Sentinel explains, “Scholars view the elder son as symbolic of the Pharisees—self-righteous, prideful, and unwilling to welcome a repentant transgressor. Regardless of this attitude, his father addresses him as ‘son,’ reassuring him of his uninterrupted status in the family. One Bible expert suggests, ‘If repentance for the prodigal son means learning to say ‘Father’ again, then for the elder son it means learning to say ‘brother’ again.’  …  Another source observes: “The parable is open-ended: it does not record the older brother’s response. The religious leaders still had a chance to respond to Jesus’ offer of the Kingdom.”

I have never before noticed Christ Jesus left the parable open-ended…we never hear what the older son decides to do. We don’t know whether the elder brother continues to be upset, or whether he welcomes the brother home. This open-ended question leads me to pray about the “older-brother tendency” that seems to tempt each of us. It occurs to me that we overcome the “older-brother tendency” for all mankind as we realize that divine Love is infinite..and has infinite resources and that each of us cannot help but to hear the Christ-message that makes us aware of our infinite source of goodness.

This reminds me of a story I heard from Chet Manchester, CSB. Years ago, Chet and his wife Anne began to raise chickens on their property in New York. Chet went out to feed the chickens with a huge bag of feed one day and was struck by how the chickens were all fighting with each other to get to the food. He found himself saying, “Silly chickens, if you only knew how much food I have to give you and how willing I am to give it all to you, you would not fight with each other.” This message, of course, is one that all of us can digest. If we understand that our divine Parent, infinite Love, has infinite resources and an unlimited metaphorical food bag, we would not compare or criticize or argue with one another. We would not stress out over getting enough affection. This lesson from Chet’s chickens can help us all to realize that we are all worthy of love and have an unlimited source of love openly willing to give us as much as we need.

Chet’s chickens afford us many lessons. As Mary Baker Eddy asks rhetorically, “Shall we plead for more at the open fount [also known as unlimited chicken feed], which is pouring forth more than we accept? The unspoken desire does bring us nearer the source of all existence and blessedness [the source of all chicken food].”  (cit. S15, 2:26)

She continues, “Through repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration, [silly chickens] put off their [limited] beliefs and false individuality [that makes them think they have to fight for everything they get].

In patient obedience to a patient [supplier of infinite blessings], let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, — self-will, self-justification, and self-love, — which wars against spirituality and is [what seems to make us feel separate and afraid].”  (cit. 16, 242:1–3, 15 bracketed phrases added)

I hope you can forgive my campiness in mixing the chicken metaphor into Mary Baker Eddy’s writings. In my experience, hearing familiar writings in startling ways, often stirs thought and leads to healing and awakening, plus it’s fun.

As we understand more about our infinite source of goodness, we discover more and more peace and fulfillment. We are not separate from the supply, or separate from the source of all goodness. The prodigal son story helps us to understand the tender relationship between God and man, that God is always forgiving and always welcomes us home.

And yet, we must remember that, in truth, we are never separated from God, never separated from the Father. We cannot actually wander away from ever-present and omniscient Mind.  We cannot actually step away from God’s presence even for a single moment because God–infinite Love–is ever-present.  Man is the entity of God, the very expression and outpouring of God.  As Mary Baker Eddy states. “The admission to one’s self that man is God’s own likeness sets man free to master the infinite idea.” (cit. S18, 90:24-25)


SECTION 4: Love is universal and leaves no one out

The fourth section further expands our understanding of the tender relationship between God and man. The section includes the story of the woman from Canaan, who was not of Jewish descent, and who asked Christ Jesus for help. As the Bible Lens Research from the CS Sentinel explains, “As a Gentile, the Canaanite woman would have been disdained among Jews. Yet she appeals to Jesus as the Hebrew Messiah, calling him the son of David. Her persistence and humility prompt him to praise her great faith—a commendation recorded just one other time, in his healing of the centurion’s servant (see Matthew 8:10).”  (cit. B12, Matthew 15:21–31)  Christ Jesus’ compassion for this woman helps us to understand his message that no one is excluded from divine Love’s all-encompassing comfort. Divine Love corrects and governs all of man, not just the select few. This woman was not excluded. No one is excluded. As Mary Baker Eddy states, “Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals. It is the open fount which cries, ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.’” (cit. S19, 13:2)

This summer at camp, a counselor gave a testimony that included new inspiration about the word “universal.”  His fresh love for the universality of divine Love’s gifts inspired me to tune in to the word more as well.  Nothing can limit divine Love’s reach. No one is outside the realm of all-encompassing and infinite Mind.

When we start our prayer with a focus on the infinitude and ever-presence and universality of Love, instead of on a person or personal problem, then we quickly discover that nothing can exist outside of this infinitude and ever-presence. As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea, — perfect God and perfect man, — as the basis of thought and demonstration.” (cit. S23, 259:11)


SECTION 5: Divine Love corrects and governs man (SH 6: 3)

Section 5 addresses the question: what kind of child does our divine Parent want?  If we start to answer this question from a limited view of man, we would probably start to judge and assess who is good enough, who would not be acceptable, and what issues we would need to correct in ourselves to be acceptable to the divine Parent, God. This would lead to all kinds of judgment, confusion, and dissatisfaction.

But when we start from the standpoint of the perfect Parent, all-knowing and ever-present Love, which is our source of being, it would seem ridiculous that the child of this Parent could possibly be anything less than good.  “The steps of a good man are ordered by [divine Love]: and [Love] delighteth in [our] way.” (cit. B15, Psalm 37:23, brackets words added)

In Science, we are the expression, the outpouring of divine Love, which directs the way in which we shine, and give, and bless. We are governed by divine Love. “Divine Love corrects and governs man.” (SH 6: 3)  As we have humility to yield to the authority and comfort of divine Love, we will find more and more peace. We can yield to divine Love’s authority, and pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (cit. B16, Psalm 139:23, 24)

In truth, we cannot stray beyond divine Love’s authority.  As we let go of a false sense of separation from or exemption from divine Love’s absolute comfort, we find our true being as God’s child, Love’s reflection, Spirit’s inspiration.  As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “The real man is spiritual and immortal, but the mortal and imperfect so-called “children of men” are counterfeits from the beginning, to be laid aside for the pure reality. This mortal is put off, and the new man or real man is put on, in proportion as mortals realize the Science of man and seek the true model.”  (cit. S25, 409:20)

Mary Baker Eddy tells us how to get on the right path, the right course.  She writes, “The only course is to take antagonistic grounds against all that is opposed to the health, holiness, and harmony of man, God’s image.” (cit. 26: 392:8)

We are not starting out as flawed people and working hard to become un-flawed. Instead, we have always been the pure expression of infinite Mind, and–through prayer–we are discovering this truth of our being. Prayer enables us to let go of misconceptions about man.  Again, prayer enables us to let go of misconceptions about man. As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The great truth in the Science of being, that the real man was, is, and ever shall be perfect, is incontrovertible; for if man is the image, reflection, of God, he is neither inverted nor subverted, but upright and Godlike.” (cit. S27, 200:16)

Letting go of the misconceptions about man enables us to work out the “problem of being”– the questions about what we are and what our true nature is.  As we do this, we discover more and more of our beginninglessness and co-eternality with infinite Mind. And this discovery expands how we conceive of ourselves and our relationship to divine Love, our parent Mind.

As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “God, the divine Principle of man, and man in God’s likeness are inseparable, harmonious, and eternal. The Science of being furnishes the rule of perfection, and brings immortality to light. God and man are not the same, but in the order of divine Science, God and man coexist and are eternal. God is the parent Mind, and man is God’s spiritual offspring.” (SH, p. 336:25)


SECTION 6: Man is satisfied and at peace

We can all feel comfort from the divine Parent, Mind, that offers an unlimited outpouring of gifts universally.  As we feel grace and peace from God, our Father, as demonstrated by the Wayshower, Christ Jesus, we experience comfort that overcomes all difficulties. (cit. B18, I Peter 4:10) The universal and unlimited outpouring from Love to us is symbolized by the concept of divine Father-Mother, but it cannot be limited to personhood. God is not person, is not corporeal or bound to a specific location.

As we understand the universality of God’s goodness and love, and know that we are the outpouring and expression of this Love, we can share it more and more with others and fulfill our role as the outpouring and expression of Love. In other words, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (cit. B18, I Peter 4:10)

Divine Love is enough to comfort and inspire each and every one of us, universally and completely. No one is beyond Love’s blessings. It is natural and normal for divine Love to reach every heart, just as it is needed. Divine Love is like the perfect parent, tenderly reaching and teaching each of us as we need it most. As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The miracle of grace is no miracle to Love.” (cit. S30, 494:15)

We can all be grateful that “Whatever inspires with wisdom, Truth, or Love — be it song, sermon, or Science — blesses the human family with crumbs of comfort from Christ’s table, feeding the hungry and giving living waters to the thirsty.”–and, I should add, all the food needed for Chet’s chickens to be satisfied and at peace.   (cit. 31, 234:4)


GEMs of BIBLE-BASED application ideas from COBBEY CRISLER & others are “in the works” to be POSTED, at least in part, on Monday. They will be EMAILED in full later this week. Check the  current GEMs at CedarS INSPIRATION website, or later in your email, if you have  SUBSCRIBED on this webpage to receive this offering.


Ken Cooper POETIC POSTLUDE contributions related to this Bible Lesson will ARRIVE LATER IN THE WEEK. When they do arrive, the poems will be POSTED on CedarS INSPIRATION website & be EMAILED TO THOSE WHO SUBSCRIBE FOR THEM HERE.


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