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[Allow Yourself] “No Idle or Idol Thoughts”
Application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Matter”
for September 22, 2013

by Rick Stewart, C.S., Dresden, Germany
(49) 351 312 4736   rickstewartcs@aol.com

[bracketed inserts by Warren Huff]

How about joining me in a little challenge for the week?  How about if we start thinking about Church and Sunday School really early this week?  Let’s not wait until Sunday morning, but let’s get started preparing for an incredible Church and Sunday School experience right now!   This may lead to the most exciting Sunday School session you have ever had.  Or you may be helping to prepare a church service that will have people walking away saying, “That was incredible!  That was wonderful! ”

How do we begin this exciting adventure?  Well, I began by thinking about the Sunday School session when I was moved up, for the day, to the Sunday School class with kids five years older than me.  Cool.  I was with the teenagers.  And their teacher, Mrs. Bierly, gave an immediate assignment.  We were told to memorize the citation from Science and Health, page 261:4 “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.” (S-27 in this week’s lesson.)

Maybe it was because I was with the teenagers.  Maybe it was because I felt like I had arrived.  For whatever reason I embraced that assignment with gusto and I made that sentence mine.  And guess what, it is still mine many, many years later.  It may even be possible that I have thought of that powerful truth almost every day of my life.  It was no idle assignment:  It was no idle task.  It has lived in my life.  And guess what, it has helped me just a little bit in getting rid of the idols that try to creep into our life every day. 

And in a nutshell that is our Bible Lesson this week, [allow yourself] no idle thoughts of matter and certainly no idol thoughts of matter.  We are going to think about God, Spirit and we are going to live!

Golden Text:    I Corinthians 8:14   . . . we know that an idol stands for something that does not really exist; we know that there is only the one God.  The Golden Text as it appears in the Quarterly is from the Good News Translation

The King James Version reads: “… we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.”

This verse comprising our Golden Text is from a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the early Christian community in Corinth.  Paul had actually extended visits in Corinth, perhaps 18 months one time, three months another. So he was writing to friends.  And he was writing with an understanding of the challenges that faced those learning to follow Christ there in Corinth.  And there were some major concerns.  Corinth was a city of commerce, a crossroads, what we might call cosmopolitan.  There were lots of different cultures mixing with one another.  And that led to some real challenges with the thinking and lives of the Christians in Corinth.  One of those challenges with this mixing involved food.  Evidently most of the meat that was available in the public market had been sacrificed or ritually prepared in pagan temples.  So even if someone was not worshipping any longer in a pagan temple, but instead worshipping in one of the  developing Christian  “house” churches, where would he get his food?  The former Jews who had become Christians were accustomed to securing acceptable sources for their meat, but for others it was a problem.  And the Jews were ready to make their dietary laws part of the Church practice.  And the Gentiles, non-Jews, were not necessarily concerned about the food issue.  This conflict was one of many things causing problems among the early Christians.

Paul was trying to give some good counsel to help resolve the problem.  And he was also sharing the importance of not just thinking about one’s self, but how your actions might impact a fellow Christian.  You might be fine with eating what is set before you and not having it affect your conscience, but what about someone used to eating only certain foods or foods prepared in certain ways.

This Golden Text really opens our Bible Lesson up to many of our own ethical concerns regarding our contacts with a secular society.  What actions, what decisions support our own spiritual growth and the growth of those around us?

We may not see a lot of actual religious idols in our daily life.  But don’t we constantly come into contact with a society that has idolized “matter” in various forms.  Our own considerations for worship and spiritual growth may actually closely parallel what early Christians faced in the bustling city of Corinth.  The reading of Paul’s letters and research into the cultural setting in Corinth are valuable tools.  This research might just raise your level of idle thought about Paul’s letters, to one of understanding consideration.  And it might be a wake-up call as to how “idol” thought might be entering into our daily practice of Christianity. 

Here are some interesting links for research:           http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2012/08/letters-to-the-church-1-corinthians/

http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/corinthians/housechurches.stm

Responsive Reading (RR):  Psalms 97:1, 5–7 (to :), 8, 11, 12; Isaiah 2:5, 18
The Responsive Reading in Psalm 97  further introduces us to the idea of a community  of believers living surrounded by those that worship differently.  In this case it was the difference between the people of God, Jehovah, and those that lived around them and still worshipped graven idols.  Some call this one of the royal Psalms.  God is portrayed as “reigning” as a king.  God is active, not seen or portrayed physically as a graven image, but in action, and this is something to rejoice in.    Isaiah calls the “house of Jacob” to “walk in the light of the Lord.”  And the “idols he shall utterly abolish.

 Section 1:  [Learn] God is All, idols are not.  [Cherish the] Infinite versus finite.
Citations B-1 and B-2 tell us of a God that “fills heaven and earth” and “is infinite.”  What a contrast, an infinite, omnipresent deity versus one that is a graven statue in a finite form. 

Citation B-3, Psalms 115, speaks of the “heathen,” the nations surrounding Israel, and their idols made of silver and gold that portrayed a physical deity, one that had to be carried around.  This reminded me of the story a friend told me about her time living in the Orient.  She vividly remembered seeing processions of worshippers carrying their god about the city.  Suddenly she had a clear understanding between a finite idol that people had to move around versus an infinite God, Spirit, Mind.  This” infinite Mind” she saw evidenced “moving” throughout creation.  As we read in citation B-5 “For in him we live, move, and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)  [This statement by Paul Mrs. Eddy connects with her scientific statement of being (S-1 and S-19, p. 468) and her mental healing system as she states in Retrospection and Introspection  “St. Paul said to the Athenians, "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being." This statement is in substance identical with my own: "There is no life, truth, substance, nor intelligence in matter." It is quite clear that as yet this grandest verity has not been fully demonstrated, but it is nevertheless true. If Christian Science reiterates St. Paul's teaching, we, as Christian Scientists, should give to the world convincing proof of the validity of this scientific statement of being. Having perceived, in advance of others, this scientific fact, we owe to ourselves and to the world a struggle for its demonstration.Ret. 93:17]   

The citations from Science and Health illustrate the difference between this “infinite Mind” in which we move (S-1) versus the “idolatry” of matter (S-2) and a “finite mind” (S-4).

Doesn’t Jesus statement echo this clear fact, God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 (NIV)

This section concludes with a paragraph that Mary Baker Eddy identifies as the “Scientific ultimatum” on page 492:25.  “God is Mind, and God is infinite; hence all is Mind.  On this statement rests the Science of being, and the Principle of this Science is divine, demonstrating harmony and immortality.” (S-6, 492)

 Section 2:  Learn from weeds in the wheat field; make the separation at the right time!
This section of the lesson deals with Jesus’ parable of the wheat and tares (weeds).  See citation B-7 in Matthew 13 [and as shown in a CedarS reenactment version of this parable listed in the upper right of our webpage version of this Met as a Download at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/articles/2013/9/allow-yourself-no-idle-or-idol-thoughts/  ].   There are powerful lessons to be learned from this parable.  A farmer plants good seed, an enemy sows weed seed among the good, and when the crop springs forth into fruit, oops, there are weeds among the grain.  Eager servants at first want to pull up the weeds, but the wise farmer cautions to wait for the harvest.  If the servants pull up the weeds too soon, they will destroy good plants also.  Instead he instructs them to wait till harvest time and then bundle up the weeds and burn them and “gather the wheat into my barn.”

Germany is a land where the people love and live on bread.  The name for the evening meal, “abendbrot,” actually translates to “evening bread.”  So, we have many types of bread from many types of grain.  During the summer as the different grains grow the fields are uniform, green, and swaying in the wind.  But it is rather delightful to see a stray sunflower in the middle of a sea of green grain.  If an impatient farmer saw this sunflower plant when the wheat plants were new and tiny, and with irritation decided to go get that “weed” and pull it up, he would trample hundreds of healthy wheat plants just to reach the one sunflower plant.  If he left it alone until harvest time, its removal would be an easy and less destructive task.

If the new crop happens to be your own spiritual growth, tiny seeds of spirituality planted among the world’s weeds of materiality this can be an important lesson.  Let your growing spirituality mature and come to fruit without a terror campaign of weed removal.

The citations from Science and Health teach deep lessons from this parable.  Citations S-7, S-8, and S-9 identify the nature of Spirit and matter, the wheat and the tares.  Citation S-10 continues “The seed of Truth and the seed of error, of belief and understanding, — yea, the seed of Spirit and seed of matter, — are the wheat and tares, which time will separate, the one to be burned, the other to be garnered into heavenly places.”  (page 535:1)

The Mother Church’s “My Bible Lesson” in a “diving deeper” reference refers to a letter Mrs. Eddy wrote to Frank Gale in 1891.  See “Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer, Amplified Edition (Yvonne Cache von Fettweis and Robert Townsend Warneck) pp. 395 –396    http://christianscience.com/bible-lessons/mybiblelesson

Section 3: [Dip in] the pool of human beliefs? or [be baptized in] the Christ?
For many the wonderful story of the man healed by Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda is a favorite in the Bible.  (B-10, John 5:1-9)  But for many Bible scholars the authenticity of the account was questioned.  Some argued there is no evidence of such a pool in Jerusalem and so the account must not be accurate.  And then in the 19th Century a pool was discovered that fit the description of that in John 5.  Hmmmm? ( James H. Charlesworth, Jesus and archaeology, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2006. pp 560-566)

Here is a link to a You Tube video that actually shows this excavated site.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWJ5X4piLYo  Video of Messianic Rabbi Jack Zimmerman visit to Pool of Bethesda in 2010

Another interesting possibility that has come from some of the archaeological work on this site is the discovery of symbols of the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius.  With those discoveries some have theorized that this site could have been one where people waited for miraculous cures from this Greek god and his daughters, the goddesses of hygiene and healing.  So one aspect of this healing could have been the choice of where do you look for healing, The God of the Hebrews or the god and goddesses of the Greeks?  Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, Ph.D. has an interesting piece on this question. One of his interesting observations is that the Master did not ask the man to go and wash in the pool, (like he did at the Pool of Siloam, John 9:6-7), but instead told the man, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” http://jewishstudies.eteacherbiblical.com/2013/02/john-5-2-5-who-will-heal-you-a-greek-or-a-jewish-god/

After reading that commentary I found myself thinking of Jesus’ words, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk,” in today’s vernacular, “Come one, get out of here, you don’t have to wait for a miracle cure, God heals you right now!”  And away the man trotted.  [Click "Man Healed at Pool of Bethesda" to see this CedarS reenactment script  listed in the upper right of our webpage version of this Met as a Download at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/articles/2013/9/allow-yourself-no-idle-or-idol-thoughts/ 

Thinking in that direction I found the citations from Science and Health, S-14 through S-18 as further evidence of the need to make a choice regarding healing.  Are we looking to matter or Spirit as the source for healing?  Where shall our faith be placed?

And I found this particular Science and Health citation as an illustration of the choice this man made.  “This scientific sense of being, forsaking matter for Spirit, by no means suggests man’s absorption into Deity and the loss of his identity, but confers upon man enlarged individuality, a wider sphere of thought and action, a more expansive love, a higher and more permanent peace.” (S-17, 265:10) 

Section 4: The image of “one God, one Spirit” (S-21) is not matter! 
What do we bow down to, matter or Spirit?   The Bible citations include the Second Commandment (B-15, Exodus 20:1, 3-5) and also B-13, Genesis 1:27.  So we read of man made in God’s image and likeness and the command to not bow down to any “graven image.”  As citation B-14 puts it, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (I John 5:21)

How is this practically illustrated? Well, there is no better illustration than healing!  In citation B-16 Jesus heals the woman “which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.  And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.  And he laid his hand on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” (Luke 13:11-13)

How wonderful that this woman was healed.  And how wonderful that after the healing she knew who to thank, she glorified God!  Actually every single Wednesday evening in Christian Science churches, societies, and groups around the world you can hear testimonies of those who are glorifying God for similar healings. 

For example, in high school I was healed of a seasonal illness that made it difficult for me to breathe during the night.  At first my routine was to get up, get myself a glass of water, grab a Christian Science Sentinel or Journal, and read and sip.  After some hours awake I would get some relief and be able to go back to sleep.  But the condition would return and was not being met. 

During this time my love for the Christian Science magazines was really developing and I was learning lots about Christian Science as I read.  But I was also continuing to sip my water as I read, that is until one night when I realized that I had developed faith in those cool glasses of water to help.  It was kind of like the lesson from the tares and wheat earlier in the lesson, the good wheat of spiritual understanding had been developing, but also the weeds of believing I needed something to drink to settle my breathing.  That night when I realized that I had been almost bowing down to the water I let it go.  I knew my help was in the truths about God and man that I was learning as I read.  This time when the comfort came it was permanent. 

As citation S-18 puts it: “When we realize that Life is Spirit, never in nor of matter, this understanding will expand into self-completeness, finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness.”  (S 264:15) 

Section 5: Flee the “idolatry of matter” for the allness of Spirit.
Like Mrs. Bierly taught our Sunday School class years ago, what we choose to think is really important.  She encouraged us to “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true…” (S-27, 261:4)  And she was right!

This section is a great conclusion as we make our stand to worship God, Spirit, (B-18) and flee the idolatry of matter worship.  No idle thoughts or idol thoughts.  Instead becoming conscious more and more of the presence of God, Good, Spirit.  This section could actually be a lesson in accomplishing what is written on page 14 of Science and Health, and illustrated throughout this week’s Lesson, “Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, — neither in nor of matter, — and the body will then utter no complaints.  If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find yourself suddenly well.”

As I type this I look at my two hands at work on the keyboard.  They both function properly, they both look the same, there is little to distinguish one from the other.  But New Year’s Eve about 15 years ago was a different picture.  Following a home-made fireworks explosion that looked a lot like the typical cartoon figure emerging out of a puff of smoke, one of my hands was badly burned.  I immediately called my mom, a Christian Science practitioner.  As she was praying I was trying to pray for myself, but intense pain was making it a great challenge.  When I showered to remove the black soot that covered me I found that the cool water made my hand feel better.  But as soon as I took it out of the water the intense pain returned.  I realized there was a choice to be made, what was I going to trust for bringing comfort, cool water or the Christ?  Spirit or matter? A short time after that realization the pain eased.  The next day I was able to carry out my duties as First Reader for our Wednesday evening meeting.  Although I could not open the hand, there was no pain.  Over the next several days the prayerful work continued and so did the progress.  Three days after the experience I was working with fiberglass while making surfboard repairs.  One of the friends working with me had been a paramedic and remarked on my hand.  He made a statement about some particular degree of burn, but then said, “but it looks good now.”  Later that day I was in the Atlantic surfing with those friends.  Shortly after the experience it was difficult to tell which hand had been burned.

In the years since I have often been reminded of the point where I chose, cool water or the comforting Christ?  This week’s Bible Lesson has also re-awakened me to the importance of that choice.  Shall we worship the one God, Spirit and flee the idolatry of faith in matter?  It is simply the choice between the Allness of God and the nothingness of matter, isn’t it?


[Warren’s Section 5 extras:
1. Click here if you’d like a free listen or a $.99 buy of citation S-28 set to music!  Select the 5th track called “One” of Julia Wade’s new CD called “Solos”.  On September 7, 2013 Julia Wade, who recently finished 7 years of soloing at The Mother Church, gave an awesome concert at the International Christian Science Nurses Conference at CedarS.  She sang this and several other inspiring songs from her new album of Mrs. Eddy’s lyrics put to music by Peter Link.  I highly recommend this CD and the “harmonious and eternal” results that are sure to follow from “the translation of man and the universe back into Spirit”. (S-28, 209:16-24, http://watchfiremusic.com/album.php?dcid=214 ]

2. Here’s an uplifting link to a Christian Science Sentinel article about citation S-29 to “no longer look up to the stars” (“high and holy thoughts” of perfection) – but rather “look out from them”. (S&H 125:28) http://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/2cqkn8npd44?s=f ]

[The above application ideas are from a Christian Science Practitioner who has served as a Resident Practitioner at CedarS Camps. They are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of studying and applying the Christian Science Bible lessons throughout the year, not just at camp!  YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of possible ways to share Bible Lesson applications with older, as well as younger, Sunday School classes by clicking the "Subscribe Now" button (lower left) at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/ ]

[Warren Huff, CedarS Director & editor of these notes & bracketed, italic additions.]

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[Additional Director's Note: You can sign up to have these application ideas emailed to you free — by Monday each week in English; or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION: in German, thanks to Helga and Manfred; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio, or in Portuguese, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil.  A voluntary French translation by Rodger Glokpor, a Christian Scientist from Togo (West Africa) has been contributed.  Thank you, Rodger and all translators! Go to http://www.cedarscamps.org/ and click "Newsletters" to sign-up for a free translation into these languages.  This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 13-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  (Ask and look for "Possible Sunday School Topics "and "Possible Younger Class Lessons" in emails to follow.) These weekly offerings are intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study, application and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "Mets "and Sunday School ideas are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way serve as a substitute for daily study of the lesson. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension and background as well as new angles (and angels) on the daily applicability of some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and in a variety of useful formats as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e.B-1 and S-28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "Met" (Metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the Bible (B-1 thru B-26) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-32). The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist.  The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one.  We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of the ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.]

 

 

 

 

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