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Bless God, Acknowledge Soul as Your Shepherd, and See Good
Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on:

Soul
for February 12th through February 18th, 2024

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


INTRODUCTION, GOLDEN TEXT AND RESPONSIVE READING

This week I enjoyed thinking about Soul as the essence of all that really is — that which constitutes the identity of all things — and bathes all in blessings.  Man expresses the shine of Soul as sun rays express the shine of the sun,  Soul Is forever unlimited and is the source of all good. Unlimited Soul could never be contained in a limited material body.

An article I found helpful in getting a better understanding of Soul is titled, THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SOUL.  It was written by Emma Simmons Radcliffe and appeared in the February 1953 Christian Science Journal.   Here is the link: https://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/2ift7p1be8a?s=copylink.

Another thing I found very helpful is something that Mary Baker Eddy says about sense and Soul on page 482, line 3 of Science and Health.  She writes:  “Human thought has adulterated the meaning of the word soul through the hypothesis that soul is both an evil and a good intelligence, resident in matter. The proper use of the word soul can always be gained by substituting the word God, where the deific meaning is required. In other cases, use the word sense, and you will have the scientific signification. As used in Christian Science, Soul is properly the synonym of Spirit, or God; but out of Science, soul is identical with sense, with material sensation.”

Although that citation is not in this week’s Lesson, many references are made this week to contrasting spiritual and material sense.  Our Shepherd leads us to perceive things through spiritual sense, revealing the infinite blessings of Soul.

I saw a lot this week about how God blesses us.  But, interestingly, the Golden Text speaks of the need for us to bless God, and to not forget all his benefits — all that He naturally does for us. And this theme is repeated throughout the Lesson. In this context, to bless means to humbly kneel before God and praise Him.  It may be tempting to be so focused on the problems confronting our lives that we forget to notice the good.  Rather than taking good for granted (no matter how big or how small), or despairing that there is no good, we need to acknowledge the natural and abundant pouring forth of Soul’s bounty of good.  After all, we’re told in Genesis, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Spiritual sense reveals this good, while material sense hides it.

Shepherding was also a recurring theme that I saw this week. The Responsive Reading compares how God, Soul, cares for us as a shepherd cares for his sheep (Ezekiel 34: 11,12,14,16,26,28). As the essence of man’s identity, it seems to me that Soul embodies all of the synonyms.  I had fun relating each aspect of shepherding presented here to one of the synonyms.  Soul, ordered Principle, doesn’t just leave us to wander helter-skelter, but searches for us in order to keep us on the right path (v. 11).

Soul, Mind, delivers us from being “scattered” (v. 12). The Hebrew meaning of the word scattered is “to dash in pieces, literally or figuratively; especially to disperse.”  Doesn’t that apply to the belief that our focus can be scattered or that we can be pulled in a zillion different directions?  Our Shepherd, Soul, Truth, feeds us — providing exactly what will best nourish us in every way (v. 14).  Our Shepherd, Soul, Life, brings healing to whatever discordant situation we may find ourselves in (V. 16).  Our Shepherd, Soul, Love, enables us to bring blessings to whatever we’re involved in, as Love showers blessings on us — and on all (v. 26).  Remember, the Golden Text told us we need to not forget God’s blessings!  And, finally, our Shepherd, Soul, ever-present Spirit, keeps us safe.  As we really know that, nothing can make us be afraid (v. 28).

The verses from Jeremiah (32:38, 40, 41) introduce God’s covenant, establishing that we are God’s people and God is our God.  This is a contract that will never be broken.  It is God’s promise of unity with us forever … a promise to plant us in God’s kingdom, where good reigns forever.  The Covenant establishes our oneness with the one Soul — the Soul that lives and thrives and can never be less than whole.


SECTION 1: BLESSINGS COME FROM MAN’S COEXISTENCE WITH INFINITY

The covenant (or contract) that exists between God and man is mentioned again in this section.   Man’s task (or privilege) is to rejoice in, and magnify, God’s great goodness (citation B1, Psalm 70:4).  As for God’s part … a Messiah, or savior, is promised (cit. B2, Isaiah 42:1,8). And the effect of this Messiah will be blooming deserts and an abundant harvest (cit. B3, Isaiah 35:1,2 and B4, Hebrews 6:7, 13,14).  I love translating these images into human scenarios.  I think of times when our lives feel like deserts — desolate, without inspiration, tough.  But, right at the lowest times, God promises that there will be reason for hope and rejoicing.  The image of the earth drinking in the rain that falls is a reminder for us to be receptive to the good and ready to absorb the blessings.  Sometimes the rain just runs off without having an effect — like good not being recognized and absorbed in thought.  But, here is the promise that the rain (the blessings) will be absorbed and will bear fruit as we respond to God’s gifts!  Blessing is what God does (cit. B4, Hebrews 6:7,13,14).

I realized as I worked with the citations from Science and Health that the reason we are so freely touched by God’s blessings is because of the inseparability of the nature of God with the nature of man.  God being Soul, and man being the image of God, the essence or identity of man coexists with the essence or identity of God, Soul (cit. S1, 120:4).  There can be no separation.  Thus, the blessing that is sent, must be received and outwardly expressed.  Think about the relation between joy and a smile.  It’s pretty hard to feel genuine, whole-hearted joy and not have at least a glimmer of a smile show up on the face.  The smile is the expression of joy, as man is the expression of Soul.  Additionally, because God is infinite, and there is no other, there is no finite (limited or separate) soul or spirit … no separate identity functioning apart from God and immune to God’s infinite blessings (cit. S3, 466:20-21).

Notice the two parts of this sentence: “Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul” (cit. S6, 29-31).  Notice the covenant relationship there … Soul has infinite resources which are ever available to bless mankind.  And man experiences those blessings when happiness is sought from the source of happiness, Soul.  So, we need to be sure that we are fully acknowledging Soul to be the source of every blessing, and that we don’t make the mistake of thinking that our joy, or lack thereof, comes from another person or human circumstances or wealth or education or anything else.

No matter what’s going on around us, or what challenges we are facing, our happiness cannot be taken away.  [We have hourly opportunities to demonstrate CedarS 2024 theme of “the joy that none can take away is mine…” (Hymn 139:1).] The blessing of joy (independent of any material circumstance) is being poured forth from Soul without interruption just as the sunbeam is being poured forth from the sun.  We may have to open the shades or fly above the clouds to experience the light.  Similarly, we take thought above the limited view presented by the carnal mind in order to find a sense of happiness (or joy) that cannot be taken away because its source is infinite Soul, and that Soul constitutes our very being!


SECTION 2: SOUL FEEDS AND NOURISHES US

In this section we have the wonderful story of Daniel and his three friends who took a firm stand for their religious convictions and refused to eat the king’s food.  It is thought that Daniel considered this food to be associated with idol worship and thus considered unclean.  Daniel had been taken captive as a child and remained a captive his entire life.  He was being specially groomed to be a leader in the hopes he would influence his fellow captives.

Daniel went along with a lot of what he was asked to do, attending classes and excelling in his studies. But he refused to comply with the traditions that he perceived to be “unclean”.  How were the four men rewarded for their faithfulness to their God?  They were found to be bigger and stronger than those who had eaten “the king’s meat” (cit. B8, Daniel 1:3,5,6,8,11-13,15,17). They not only survived, they thrived! Is that because a vegetarian diet is healthier than a diet of meat?  Or, is it because “immortal Mind feeds the body with supernal freshness and fairness”,  as Mary Baker Eddy writes (cit. S10, 248:8)?  The young men were strengthened by their faithfulness to God — to Soul, the essence of their being.

We are currently living in a world where we are constantly being bombarded with theories regarding what we should eat in order to be healthy.  It seems easy to say that we’re not facing decisions based on whether the food we’re being offered is connected to idolatry.  And yet … the idols of our day are simply more subtle.  They are still very much there.  There is so much pressure to comply with health laws and popular theories regarding food.  But, the more we focus on popular material opinions — and the desires of the body  — the further we depart from the absolute truth that “Man is harmonious when governed by Soul” (cit. S11, 273:18).

The root of all limitations is the belief that we have an identity (a soul) that lives in a material body — and so is limited by that body.  The reality is that we live in Soul — and are governed by the liberating laws of Soul (cit. S8, 223:3).  The analogy comes to me that the sun doesn’t live inside the rays.  Rather the rays live in (and shine out from) the sun.  Thus all rays have all of the elements of the sun.  Similarly, each one of us possesses all of the qualities of Soul — and that includes all of the qualities of Life, Truth, Love, Mind, Principle, and Spirit.  Our identity is uniquely expressed, but is as untouched by mortal theories as God is untouched!


SECTION 3: UNLIMITED GOODNESS SUPPLIED BY OUR SHEPHERD — BLESSING ALL!

This section opens with an echo of the Golden Text … “praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men” (cit. B10, Psalm 107:8,9).  God supplies all of our needs — not just barely, but abundantly (cit. B11, Philippians 4:19).  The more we recognize God as the source of all good (and only good), the more our eyes will be opened to see it.

When Jesus fed the multitude, he didn’t focus on what was lacking. He thanked God for the seven loaves they DID have. And he started multiplying that good.  The result?  All were fed and nothing went to waste. The extra was collected, and undoubtedly used. And, when Jesus looked at the multitudes, he didn’t see a desperate situation, or a bunch of people hopelessly in need. Rather, he saw “sheep not having a shepherd” (cit. B12, Mark 6:34). He simply saw people that didn’t yet know how abundantly Soul provides. I love that!

Jesus recognized the hungry crowd situation before him as an opportunity to demonstrate Shepherd skills, and open the eyes of the crowd to the infinite possibilities that come with an acknowledgment of the power of the Shepherd — of Soul — to provide.  Because Jesus so clearly understood that “Soul and its attributes were forever manifested through man” he healed every sort of malady and met every kind of need that came his way. By Jesus doing so, people increased their “understanding of Soul and salvation” (cit. S14, 210:11-16).

As I’m thinking about this, I’m getting a fresh sense of the relationship of Soul and Shepherd.  We’ve talked about Soul being the essence or identity of man.  I’m thinking that healing comes as we gain a clearer sense that our only identity is that of being the image or expression of Soul, God — where discord can find no abiding place.

As the 23rd Psalm explains, our Shepherd (divine Love) restores our spiritual sense which allows us to see the relationship we have with our perfect God, Soul, the source of all.  As we follow our Shepherd (the Christ light) we are able to “dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [Love] for ever” (cit. S16, 578:5-9,16).  Isn’t that dwelling in a sense of our oneness with God — not having a separate soul — but reflecting the infinite nature of Good?


SECTION 4:  SOUL REVEALS THE REALITY OF ETERNAL LIFE — UNINTERRUPTED

Citation B15 repeats the verse from Psalms that was the Golden Text last month for the Lesson on Life.  “… the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (cit. B15, Psalm 133:3).  What could be a better blessing than unending, uninterruptible, abundant, purposeful, joy-filled life?  As long as there is life, there are infinite possibilities.  Jesus restored Jairus’ daughter’s sense of life.  But, he first put out those who “wept and bewailed her” and laughed at what they thought was great presumptuousness on Jesus’ part that her lack of pulse and breath was not death but like a hypnotic sleep state (Verse 52) that he would awaken her from. (cit. B16, Luke 8:41,42,49-55).

What do we need to put out of the room (out of consciousness) when we are striving to restore a sense of life to any situation?  It may be that a career or a relationship seems to have stalled (died); or our hope, stamina and energy seem to be eviscerated (or deprived of their essential content) by a discordant physical condition; or negotiations, or the economy, or groups trying to come together in a decision or policy-making seem continually beset with strife and dualism.  The list can go on and on.  But, the point is … we need to see life as unending, as Jesus did. And that includes the unending nature of harmony and health in all areas.

As translated in The Living Bible, Jesus said, “I have come into the world to give sight to those who are spiritually blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind” (cit. B17, John 9:39, TLB).  Then we would not be fooled.  We would see what God has made, and be blind to the limited, material view of things.

Jesus also identified himself as “the door of the sheep” and said that he had “come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (cit. B18, John 10:7,10).  In thinking about Jesus being the “door [or gate] of the sheep” it’s fun to remember that shepherds often kept their sheep safe at night in temporary shelters.  And always the shepherds would literally lie down at the entrance of the shelter (like at the opening of a small cave or an enclosure made of rocks).  So, to me the image of the Christ as the door of the sheep is one of the Christ-presence guarding us from all intruders — keeping both thought and experience safe.

Science and Health makes some very strong assertions … “Life is real, and death is the illusion” (cit. S17, 428:3-6).  “Nothing can interfere with the harmony of being nor end the existence of man in Science” (cit. S18, 427:1-7,13-16).  These are absolute statements of Truth.  Material sense would strongly disagree — arguing from the basis of opposing empirical evidence.  But, Jesus, our Shepherd, saw through the false reports and taught us how to be victorious over false suggestions, including those of death.  Like Jesus, we need to “speak to disease (or any sort of dis-ease) as one having authority over it.”  The authority comes from our indivisible relationship with Soul.  The need is to trust Soul (Truth itself) to overthrow the testimony of “mortality and disease” (cit. S19, 395:6-10).

We’re told that “to enter into the heart of prayer, the door of the erring senses must be closed” (cit. S20, 15:9, 23, 28-30).  When we’re listening only to Spirit, rather than the testimony of the material senses, we can expect to see evidence of Life — and not be fooled by any other sense of things, regardless of how convincing that picture may be.  That’s how Jesus healed!  And, with practice, we too can heal that way!


SECTION 5:  SOUL-SENSE COMES WHEN THE HUMAN MIND YIELDS TO DIVINE MIND

Regardless of how many good works by Jesus they witnessed — the feeding of multitudes, walking over the waves, healing the sick and raising the dead — Jesus’ disciples still didn’t understand the power behind the works that he did.  One time, Jesus told his disciples, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” (Mark 8:15).  They thought it was because they had forgotten to take bread with them. Yet, they had just witnessed the feeding of 5,000 men, plus women and children. So, supplying human needs wasn’t the problem. Jesus was trying to tell them not to be fooled by the teachings of the Pharisees. We need to be careful of similar things.  We think we need more or less of things or to change things or conditions.  In reality we need to be alert to not be taken in by popular opinion that says there will always be shortages, disease, death, discord.  But, in proportion as thought yields to what Mind knows — not what the senses are testifying to — we will find that all things can indeed be healed, and discord will no longer claim to forever reign.

The author of Lamentations understood that the goodness of God is revealed to “them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him” (cit. B23, Lamentations 3:25,41).  Other translations say, “The Lord is good to those who hope in him — or trust in him” and seek him (CEB and NET).  Nearly 2,000 years later, Mary Baker Eddy articulated a similar idea.  She wrote, “This Soul-sense (that is seeing as God sees) comes to the human mind when the latter yields to the divine Mind” (cit. S25, 85:2).  In other words, the unlimited view which enabled Jesus to perform the works he did — that many call miracles — is available to us (to all) as we turn from the limited material-sense view of things and strive to see what Soul (the essence of all being) is revealing as the actual, unclouded reality.

When it didn’t look like there was enough food to feed the multitude, Jesus saw right through that.  When it doesn’t look like there is a human solution to the wars raging or economic woes or divisiveness, or disease, would Jesus accept that view?  Is that a Christianly Scientific view?

God has “blessed us with all spiritual blessings”? I liked how J.B. Phillips expanded on this idea.  He wrote, “Praise be to God for giving us through Christ every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of Heaven! For consider what he has done—before the foundation of the world he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within his constant care. He planned, in his purpose of love, that we should be adopted as his own children through Jesus Christ—that we might learn to praise that glorious generosity of his which has made us welcome in the everlasting love he bears towards the Son” (cit. B19, Ephesians 1:3, Phillips). We need to remember to bless God — praise and thank Him — for the blessings of spiritual understanding that Love has bestowed on us all.

We can use the spiritual sense that we all possess to look through the mist of material sense to see what is — to see Soul’s creation of limitless good.  We can follow our Shepherd’s lead!


SECTION 6:  BLESS GOD AND RECEIVE THE BLESSINGS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN WHERE SOUL IS SUPREME

Again, we are reminded to bless God and acknowledge God’s many good works. (cit. B24, Psalms 104:1,24).  I love the promise from II Corinthians in citation 25.  The Amplified Bible puts it this way:  “God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity” (cit. B25, II Corinthians 9:8, 11, AMP).  I love that God has enabled us to not only have enough for ourselves, but have enough to give to others, as well, without depleting ourselves.  All of this is done through acknowledging God — Soul — as the source of all good!

God is pouring out blessings.  We’ll be well served not to approach things with a small cup, indicating small expectations.  But, praise God for His boundless goodness and claim your inherited place in the Kingdom of Heaven — the realm of Soul.  Earlier Jesus was described as the door of the sheep.  Here, Mary Baker Eddy asks, “when will man pass through the open gate of Christian Science into the heaven of Soul, into the heritage of the first born among men” (cit. S28, 535:15-17)?  The gatekeeper keeps the sheep safe from danger. The open gate of Christian Science (which reveals the law of God) allows us to safely pass into the Kingdom of Heaven, which is not an out-of-reach place, but a state of consciousness.  It is “the reign of harmony in divine Science; the realm of unerring, eternal, and omnipotent Mind; the atmosphere of Spirit, where Soul is supreme” (cit. S27, 15-17).  With that supremacy of Soul comes a spiritual view unlimited by material sense.  It reveals the vision Jesus had of limitless possibilities of abundant good for all — without prejudice, without competition, without shortages or impossibilities.  In reality, we do dwell in this Kingdom — now — as the idea of Mind, the loved of Love, the shine of Soul.  Praise God — bless Him — for the abundance of good that is here and now.  Look for it and claim it as a present possibility. I’m reminded of a favorite hymn (number 2148): “Wherever He may guide me, / No want shall turn me back; / My Shepherd is beside me, / And nothing can I lack. / His wisdom ever waketh, / His sight is never dim; / He knows the way He taketh, / And I will walk with Him.” (Christian Science Hymnal, 148:2)

Blessings to each of you!



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