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 [Find your divine joy that “constantly turns away from material sense”! (S30)]
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Doctrine of Atonement”
for Easter, April 20, 2014

by Kerry Jenkins, CS, House Springs, MO (314) 406-0041

[Brackets are from Warren Huff, who thanks you in advance for all support, esp.  monthly gifts.]

Something that I really love about Christian Science is that the works, that is, healing, speaks for itself.  Christian Science doesn't rely heavily on any overriding doctrinal law, rather the healing that arises from its demonstration proves the presence of the Christ in our midst.  This Bible lesson takes the Christian doctrine of atonement and encourages us to see it for what it is: a requirement to do the will of God, to take “…joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”, and to stand on our own demonstration of our unity with God that Jesus revealed.

The Golden Text urges us to act, to act with joy in God, which is the theme in this week's lesson.  We are called upon to “…be zealous of good works.” (Responsive Reading, R.R.), to demonstrate our unity with God through our “life practice” (S4), to be “…inspired by God, Truth and Love, in all that [we do or say]” (S12), in other words, to do the will of God.

In doing God's will, we find that we are not separate beings, dwelling in matter and experiencing a material existence that will be followed by a spiritual one.  Rather, through demonstrating our oneness with our Father-Mother, as Jesus showed us, we find that our harmony and power arise from the model of a perfect, spiritual Father-Mother and a perfect, spiritual child—us!  As it says in the R.R: “…God…hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away…” The Easter message is one of man's incorruptible, spiritual being, eternal and full of good works!

Section 1: In the first section Jesus is fending off those in the temple who would have him destroyed.  They ask him to tell them “plainly” whether or not he is the Christ.  His response is that he has already told them.  In fact, he has only spoken of this openly to the woman of Samaria, by the well.  So it seems implied here that he is saying that his healing works speak for themselves, that his acts prove his identity.  He expected his works to be the evidence of his Christliness.  Jesus is the consummate example of a person doing only God's will.  He never listened to the suggestion of a separate will from his Father.  Even before the crucifixion he declared “not my will, but thine be done”.  This is demonstrating our unity with God, this is the atonement or “…exemplification of man's unity with God…”  If we are not “separate”, going our own way, then we are one with God.  On separate courses we are living the material dream, an existence that while often convincing, is without substance or reality, and leads to dissatisfaction at best.  Does this translate into sameness or boredom?  Not at all!  The good adventures that we have when we are yielding to God's will are endless, satisfying, and rewarding. The Christ is shining “…in our hearts…”; it is revealed to us as a light in the darkness of materiality.  We can see it and follow it.  It is not something “beyond” us or too transcendental to understand.

Section 2: Doing God's will in the second section is likened to the sheep following the shepherd.  In exchange for such obedience the sheep receives love, protection from danger, food and shelter.  In the more human-oriented analogy, we feel our oneness with God when we are listening for direction from God.  What if we make a mistake?  Well, remember that light that shines from within us, in our hearts?  That light is our natural beacon and lights our way back to our natural state of spiritual uprightness (B10).  When I was in middle school we had a Gilbert and Sullivan musical production each spring.  I loved to sing, (still do), and auditioned in both 6th and 7th grades for a lead part, but only got to sing in the chorus.  I had high hopes of perhaps landing a lead role in my last year of middle school, but was brutally disappointed not to even make the call-backs after auditioning.  I really struggled with this disappointment, as these productions were high quality and this was my last opportunity it seemed.  I found that one of my good friends had received a call-back. Knowing that envy was wrong, from all I'd learned in Sunday School, I turned whole-heartedly to God to reverse my disappointment and to be able to rejoice genuinely with my friend in her success.  To my surprise, within a short time I was really able to do this!  Not many days later I was helping to clean-up in the music room after school and the music teacher asked me why I hadn't shown up for call-backs.  I replied that I wasn't on the list and he said that there had been a mistake.  He had me do a call-back on the spot.  I didn't even have time to get nervous!  The next day I was given one of the two lead female roles for that production.  I don't mean to indicate here that God “gave” me that role because I yielded up my own desire and managed to genuinely rejoice in someone else's success.  God doesn't dally in such things; He's not a “super-human” intervening when needed.  God is the law of good that is always in operation.  I do think though, that my own desire to rejoice in God, rather than in my personal desire for some sort of human good, allowed me the freedom to feel and experience the peace and joy that opened the door for further good.  Playing that role was a wonderful, fun and memorable experience, but doing God's will is an ongoing, rewarding, fulfilling and enduring activity, never relegated to the past.

Sections 3: In section 3 we have the lame man by the pool. Jesus asks him (not included in lesson) if he wants to be healed, the man didn't ask Jesus who he was—didn't even know who Jesus was!  This proved the citation preceding that Jesus came to heal “…all that were oppressed…”  Maybe he asked because the man might have been content with begging, a sometimes fairly lucrative occupation, or maybe because it never occurred to the man that he could be healed.  The man's response certainly indicated that he thought that there was no option for healing.  But Jesus proved that a person didn't even need to have faith in the healer to receive healing, in other words, the laws of healing are established by God and available to all.  The Jews were upset about this healing because the man was carrying around his bed with him, as well as because the healing had happened on the Sabbath.  The New International Study Version of the Bible points out that carrying his bed would not be strictly against Mosaic laws about the Sabbath, but that the priests had certain traditional interpretations of Mosaic Law, and often those were only beneficial to themselves.  This kind of human interpretation, rather than spiritually-inspired interpretation, is what makes atonement a doctrine that could be regarded in a passive way among Christians today, rather than as an active call to do as Jesus did.  If we regard the works of Christ Jesus as miraculous, then his ministry becomes “Devoid of the Christ-power…” (S14)  A miracle leaves all who follow after Jesus, lucky at best and powerless at worst.  It is the very demonstrations of Jesus that show our unity with God, and illustrate the infinite possibilities that come from understanding this unity.  This demonstration doesn't come without honing our spiritual senses.  The material illusion can be quite convincing (S15), but it does not have divine power.

Section 4:  Our demonstration of Christ-power is ongoing (B14). Section 4 reveals that crucifixion cannot prevent the Christ from living and healing. The definition of resurrection in citation S19 helps us to see that the crucifixion didn't point out to us a life after death.  Rather it gave us a “higher idea of immortality”, that is, life in Spirit, not in matter.  The crucifixion represents that most heinous example of human will on the part of those doing the crucifying, and also the most elevated example of yielding to God's will on the part of Jesus.  What a juxtaposition!  Human will, the belief that we are separate from God and one another, led to the horror of brutally killing a divinely anointed man.  Jesus' yielding led to the resurrection, and, ultimately, to the ascension, our true goal—that of leaving this material sense of life behind, with no evidence of matter!

Section 5 gives us no respite from Jesus' call to action.  His reappearance after the crucifixion gave him the opportunity to prove to his disciples that his ministry could not be halted by the belief in death. The need to continue to prove that man is one with God was an ongoing one. It was and is also a divine need, not a material or human one. It is the purpose of God's creation to fulfill God's will, to express and reflect his power, harmony and goodness. We are divinely anointed in this Christly mission. Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, and his final ascension showed us that “…mortal man is not the real essence of manhood…” (S23). It's kind of cool to see how this theme has progressed through the last three week's worth of Bible lesson topics. We've had Reality, Unreality and, Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real? And here we have those topics summed up with the life of Christ Jesus and the message of Easter: that matter cannot prevent the reality of eternal life and God's love, from shining through. A wonderful article from the Christian Science Journal that has helped me to truly elevate my thought about death and clarify my understanding of what the Bible tells us about death is entitled: “The Alternative to Death”. The Christian Science Journal / Issues / 2011 / November / Volume 129 Issue 11 / Editorial

Section 6 encourages us to “run with patience the race that is set before us.” (B22) This is another call to action, to do the works that Jesus did.  It is in doing this that we are called “in one body”, (again that unity) (B24).  In that same citation we are called to let the “peace of God rule in [our] hearts”, just like the light that shines in our hearts in section one.  Paul is talking about our resurrection here.  Our rising, spiritual thought, out of matter, and into Spirit.  This is how we recognize our inseparability from God!  We are left with the final two citations of Science and Health encouraging us to “…keep the commandments of our Master and follow his example…” (S29).  This is detailed in citation S30 in terms of measurable progress.  Is Truth overcoming error in your daily life?  Are you advancing spiritually?  Are you striving to “enter in”?  To do this, Mrs. Eddy tells us, we must “…constantly turn away from material sense…” (S30). And as we gain, just a little each day in yielding to God's will, we end up where we started: with “joy in God”!



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