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“Choose Life — The Blessing God Has Commanded For All”
Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on:

“Life”
for January 15th through January 21st, 2024

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


INTRODUCTION, GOLDEN TEXT, AND RESPONSIVE READING

I have to admit that Life is one of my favorite Lesson subjects.  So, I look forward to discovering new ideas each time it comes up, while cherishing concepts that have come to mean so much to me.  This week, I couldn’t help but notice the many references to the idea of Life being the blessing that God has ordered up for all.  How do we receive this blessing?  By choosing Life!  We need to (get to) choose to stay in the light of Christ even when the darkness of discord confronts us — and look for the blessings that God has bestowed on each of His/Her children.

The GOLDEN TEXT offers the wonderful assurance, “… the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”  God has blessed each and every one of His dear children with the gift of eternal life —life that neither begins nor ends, which cannot  be suspended, discontinued, or stopped in any way.  To me, this life isn’t measured in terms of how long a material body remains on earth.  Rather, it is the perpetual expression of vitality, vigor, energy, activity, and enthusiasm that cannot be lost or taken away because God has baked these qualities into each and every one of His children.  Life is uniquely expressed by each one — some more quietly, and some with a bit more effervescence.  But, however expressed, the fullness of life is something to be cherished and claimed as God’s gift — as permanent and uninterruptible!

The RESPONSIVE READING gives examples of what God’s blessings look like, and also offers instruction as to how to experience these blessings.  The blessings include all that we need — supply, safety, success, holiness (that’s, moral and spiritual excellence), as well as perpetual light and life.  We’re told that these blessings will come to us, stay with us, and have an effect on us if we listen to and obey God’s voice.  All that is required is that we are obedient to God’s commands and live as He has designed us to live.  Rather than thinking of this as something arduous, I find it helpful to realize that because God made us in His image, it is actually natural for us to respond to His goodness.

That which would tempt us to disobey or be distracted is truly powerless.  As we are alert, and remember that God has blessed us with eternal life, we will find that our desire to follow God will enable us to do so, and we will recognize and claim the blessings that Love is forever bestowing on us — on all people!


SECTION 1: CHOOSE LIFE

I love the command in Deuteronomy, chapter 30, to “choose life”.  We are assured that, as we choose life, not only will we live, but our seed (our children and our descendants) will also live.  According to Moses, we choose life by choosing to love God, obey his voice and cling to Him (citation B3, Deuteronomy 30:9, 14-16, 19,20, CEB).

To love God is to love life as the expression of Life.  To listen to God’s voice is to listen to what is true from God’s perspective of the omnipotence of Good.  And to cling to God is to refuse entrance of any thoughts other than those which are good.  There have been several times in recent years when I have consciously chosen life — for myself and for those I love. These were times when things looked quite dire from a physical perspective, but there was no doubt in my mind that Life is the law of God and I refused to accept anything but Life. That simple decision had a huge impact on my experience.

Sometimes things don’t seem to go well.  We face challenges, and sometimes it seems we’re stuck in prolonged darkness.  But, darkness doesn’t discount the fact that light is always there.  Challenges don’t discount the fact that God, Good, is always supreme.  And these challenging times can, in fact, strengthen us by causing us to cling more to our Father-Mother (see citation S5, 322:26-30).

In order to “apprehend Life in divine Science” we need to “live above corporeal sense and correct it” (cit. S4, 167:6).  As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The understanding that Life is God, Spirit, lengthens our days by strengthening our trust in the deathless reality of Life, its almightiness and immortality” (cit. S3, 487:27).  Don’t be fooled!  Choose Life!

I discovered several articles on JSH.com titled “Choose Life”.  One that I found to be especially relevant to this week’s Lesson is by C. Earle Armstrong from the July, 1977 Christian Science Journal.  It talks about the lessons the writer and his wife learned when their child was killed in an accident.  Yet, by choosing Life — even in the face of death — the parents found peace.  The link is:  https://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/1d31bpk8cmy?s=copylink

It makes sense that the way to experience the fullness of life — with all of its vigor and joy — is to love and obey God because, as Science and Health citation 2 says, “God is infinite, the only Life, substance, Spirit, or Soul, the only intelligence of the universe including man” (cit. S2, 330:11-12).

If God is the only Life, and that Life is infinite, there isn’t anything outside of Life.  Furthermore, this Life must be good because God is good.  When we choose Life we choose this constant, rewarding, fulfilling, and enduring Good that sustains us. It is natural to love, obey, and cling to that sense of Life!


SECTION 2: WE LIVE IN THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF LOVE FOREVER

This section is the first of two sections which focus on Elisha’s relationship with the Shunammite woman and her son.  In both the Bible and Science and Health the 23rd Psalm is quoted … “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [Love] for ever” (cit. S7, 578:16).  The only place we live is in Love’s full consciousness of us. Love being always conscious of us means that Love’s goodness and mercy are forever caring for us.  I love Webster’s definition of forever as, “at all times: continually”.  That’s life without interruption.  Goodness and mercy were shown by the Shunammite woman and her husband in the generous hospitality they bestowed on Elisha. Likewise, God’s goodness and mercy were shown to the woman as she was able to bare a son.

We can trust that whatever we need is being provided by Love’s ever-active goodness and mercy right at the moment we need it.   Like the son of the Shunammite, we have all been conceived spiritually — without being encumbered by the limitations of matter. The challenge is to “rid ourselves of the belief that man is separated from God, and obey only the divine Principle, Life, and Love” (cit. S11, 91:5 (obey bolded)) .  I love that reference to obedience.  Remember, it is through obedience that we “choose life”!

How often do we — like the Shunammite woman —  question God’s ability to provide that which seems humanly impossible.  Instead, we need to remember that, “when we subordinate the false testimony of the corporeal senses to the facts of Science, we shall see this true likeness and reflection everywhere” (cit. S9, 516:4,21).

Here’s a small example for me of NOT questioning God’s ability to provide that which seems humanly impossible. It was on a December, six months after our second child was born, when I learned that our family either needed to bring in more income or my husband would need to give up his new career.  I prayed to see how I might be able to help.  I had previously taught the hearing impaired, but I didn’t see how that would help now.  I remember, though, being very confident that Love would provide.  Then, one day, out of the blue, a school district called to see if I could fill a part-time teaching position starting in January.  It wasn’t going to pay enough, but that call prompted me to reach out to other school districts in the area.  I ended up getting a job for the next semester that met our needs perfectly.  We do live in the consciousness of Love, and goodness and mercy are there for us!


SECTION 3: CHOOSE TO STEADFASTLY STAY IN THE LIGHT OF LIFE

In this section, the Shunammite’s son, older now, dies in his mother’s arms.  And, yet, his mother chooses Life — for herself and for him!  Without telling either her husband or Gehazi about the child’s death, the mother rushes to Elisha and won’t leave him until he comes with her. Similarly, Elisha does not leave the boy until his life is restored (cit. B8, II Kings 4:18-21,25-27,30,32,33,35,36).

To meboth the Shunammite and Elisha are wonderful examples of the blessings of steadfastly choosing to remain in the light of Life by refusing to accept the imposition of darkness.  The last verse of the Responsive Reading is repeated here as the psalmist reminds us that God is “the fountain of life”.  Life, then, with its infinite source, never stops flowing.  Psalm 36 continues to say that in God’s “light shall we see light” (cit. B9, Psalm 36:7,9).  By going to Elisha, the woman was essentially seeking the inextinguishable radiance of Christ. In so doing, she was able to see the unstoppable activity of Christ, Truth, which brought healing.

When we are faced with anything inharmonious — whether it seems like an emergency or a so-called “lesser thing” that has subtly crept up on us — we must turn to God without delay and refuse to be pulled away.  Maintaining an “all is well” attitude is not ignoring a problem.  It’s not being a “Pollyanna”.  Rather it is taking the Scientific approach which “affirms darkness to be only a mortal sense of the absence of light, at the coming of which darkness loses the appearance of reality.”  Mary Baker Eddy continues by saying, “sin and sorrow, disease and death, are the suppositional absence of Life, God, and flee as phantoms of error before truth and love” (cit. S14, 215:15).

The mortal picture may not always end-up looking like the one in this story, but that doesn’t change the fact that, as our textbook says, “Life is the law of [man’s] being” (cit. S13, 63:5).  And “every law of matter or the body, supposed to govern man, is rendered null and void by the law of Life, God” (cit. S16, 380:32-1).  Darkness — no matter how persistent or how dark — is never more than the suppositional absence of light.  And, nothing can stop the light of Christ, or keep us from seeing (and staying in) it.


SECTION 4: THE LIGHT OF CHRIST DISPELS THE DARKNESS OF DEATH

Here we have another young man being raised from the dead.  In this case, a large crowd had accompanied Jesus to the town of Nain. (cit. B11, Luke 7:11-16)  As Jesus and his followers are entering the city a large funeral procession is leaving. Knowing the impact the death of her son would have on the woman, we’re told that Jesus had “compassion on her”.   He stopped the procession and spoke directly to the young man.  Jesus wasn’t fooled by the false testimony.  He chose life as the reality!  And, the man responded. Two large groups had witnessed this resurrection — those following Jesus and the mourners. Surely the parallels of this experience, and of Elijah and Elisha raising the dead, were not lost on the people.  They now recognized that Jesus was truly a “great prophet”.

I don’t believe Jesus restored this man’s life just to alleviate the widow’s sorrow. Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Jesus taught the way of Life by demonstration, that we may understand how this divine Principle heals the sick, casts out error, and triumphs over death” (cit. S18, 25:13-16).  He did it, I believe, to enable others to see “his divine nature, the godliness which animated him” and “to reveal the Science of celestial being, to prove what God is and what He does for man” (cit. S20, 26:10).  He did it to show us what is possible.

As we persevere in becoming “conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, — neither in nor of matter, …” we will be able to follow Jesus’ example and heal as he healed.  It is Principle — the law of God — that heals!  We need to expectantly accept that the same authority that governed Elijah, Elisha, and Jesus also governs us!  There is no room for sorrow in the light of Christ.


SECTION 5:  DON’T BE FOOLED — THE LIGHT OF CHRIST IS REVEALING LIFE!

I love the opening admonition in this section … “Do not be deceived” (cit. B12, 33,55). Other translations say to not be fooled, seduced, naive, misled, led astray, or poisoned.  Paul was specifically talking about not being seduced by those who didn’t believe in resurrection.  But,  I see it as relating to any thoughts we may have about the reality of death.  Thoughts come in that suggest death is either inevitable or something to be welcomed.  It is neither.  It is just a suggestion that there is an opposite to the ever-present light of Life.

Jesus demonstrated the allness of Life in everything he did.  He overcame death for others and for himself. And his prayer was that all would understand and experience eternal life (here, now, and always) as they got to know God as Jesus knew God, and recognize the eternal Christ sent by God — fully embodied by Jesus but forever present as the universal light of Love.

I especially love the words in 1st John that assure us that the necessary understanding has been given us.  The 20th verse of 1st John, chapter 5 reads, “the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ” (cit. B16, I John 5:20).  We don’t have to wait … we just have to claim that we know the truth about Life!

The other element that is necessary for us to constantly remember and practice is Jesus’ words, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (cit. B15, John 6:63; cit. S22, 356:15-23).  According to the original Greek, to quicken is to “cause to live, make alive, give life”.  Profiteth means “to be useful”.    So … the spirit (the vital principle, God, Christ’s spirit) causes us to live — express vitality, vigor and joy. And flesh (the limited, physical nature of things) isn’t useful for anything.  And, yet … how much time and thought do we spend thinking about things of the flesh?  Too much!!  So, let’s agree to dedicate ourselves to following this direction found in the Christian Science textbook:  “Let the perfect model be present in your thoughts instead of its demoralized opposite.”  (cit. S25, 407:22) Why?  Because “this spiritualization of thought lets in the light, and brings the divine Mind, Life not death, into your consciousness” (cit. S25, 407:22)

We have in the Lesson the story of the felon who died because he thought he was bleeding to death.  In fact, what he felt was only a stream of warm water trickling over his arm (cit. S23, 379:9-22).  How awful — and unnecessary! Unfortunately, we let the testimony of mortal sense trick us in a similar way time and time again.  Fortunately … the Christ light is awakening us to see and experience the Life that is here and now!!  Let’s choose to see that light. – and live!


SECTION 6: THE BLESSING OF ETERNAL LIFE IS OURS TO CLAIM

Christ Jesus showed us how to be victorious over the temptations of the flesh — including the temptation to believe that death (the suppositional limitation and stoppage of life) is inevitable.  We will face trials.  We will be tempted to believe that discord can get the upper hand in our experience.  But, what a glorious promise of victory we have as we refuse to fall for the lie that says man can be separated from God, separated from good, from harmony, and from peace.  The Common English Bible translates James 1:12 this way: “Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward” (cit. B17, James 1:12, CEB).

God doesn’t send the testing times any more than light sends darkness.  Just as night must yield to the dawn, discord of every kind must yield to the Science of God’s law of Good. That evil has the ability to take over our lives can be very convincing.  Look around and we see discord of every name and nature staring us in the face. But, there is a law of Good, and this Biblical promise from Romans is not an empty one …“the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” Or, as Eugene Peterson has paraphrased, “Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death” (cit. B18, Romans 8:2, The Message).

Our job is to acknowledge the ever-presence of Christ, follow Jesus’ example and refuse to let fear or doubt overcome our conviction that “the recognition of life harmonious — as Life eternally is —can [and must] destroy any painful sense of, or belief in, that which Life is not” (cit. S27, 495:16).

I’m always encouraged when I remember the experience I had one morning years ago when one more bout of flu seemed to be coming on.  But, this time I rebelled.  I chose health as my divine right.  All symptoms immediately lifted, and the yearly struggle with the flu that had been my experience for quite some time never returned.

My prayer for the world is the last citation of this week’s Lesson, “Let discord of every name and nature be heard no more, and let the harmonious and true sense of Life and being take possession of human consciousness” (cit. S28, 355:11).

We can’t give up.  Truth is true and Life is the only true life.  Our prayers do make a difference. They are more than wishful thinking.  They are a force because they align thought with the all-might of God. They open the curtains on world-wide thought and let the light of Christ shine in on all — eliminating the darkness that can seem so daunting, until it is gone.  And, then all there is is light — all there is is Life and the blessing that God has commanded for all.  Choose Life — choose it for ALL!


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