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Editor’s Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the C.S. Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp. If more information or the text of this Lesson is desired, please see the Director’s Note at the end. The citations referenced in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. These two books are the ordained pastor of Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. Other reference books are fully noted at the end.)

Choose wisely!
Application Ideas for the Bible lesson on Matter:  March 14-20, 2005
Prepared by Kathy Fitzer, CS, of St. Louis, MO.

Think independently.  Watch — are you throwing more weight into your belief in matter or your understanding of Spirit?  Are you satisfied being stuck in limitation, or will you demand the demonstration of infinite possibilities?

The Golden Text:  The question is, what do you want to control you – the flesh or the Spirit?  If you honor the demands of the flesh, you’ll be controlled by the conditions of the flesh – limited, fluctuating, physical. If, however, you recognize and honor Spirit, you are filled with the presence of Spirit, God, and respond to the strength and unlimited nature of Spirit.

The Responsive Reading:  People have always had to choose for themselves where to place their trust.  Sitting on the fence or trying to go in two directions at once just doesn’t work. Joshua reminds the children of Israel that they have to make a choice. If you read the verses not included in the RR, you get a great history lesson in which Joshua reviews all the good that God has done in times past. He let’s them know that he has chosen the Lord, but that they are free to make their own choice.  After listening to him, they appear to quickly reject the option of serving other gods – even though the people around them are.  Then comes the challenge to follow their convictions – put away the false gods and obey the voice of the Lord.  Take a moment and ask yourself – whom will I serve?  To help with the decision, think about times when you’ve been in a tough spot. Which approach have you found to be more effective?  Bowing down to fear, leaning on material remedies and self-will? Or yielding to God – the power of Love, the presence of Mind, the remedy of Truth, the freedom of Spirit, the peace of Soul, the vigor of Life, the foundation of Principle?  Choose for yourself.  But, if you choose God, then serve God.

Section I: Mortal belief or reliable Spirit?  You can’t have both.  Choose!
Let’s consider B-1 (I Kings 18) A drought had been in the land for three years. Although the children of Israel still believed in Yahweh, they had also gotten swept up in worshipping other popular gods, including Baal – the Canaanite god.   Are we ever tempted, even though we believe in God, to also look to health laws (diet or exercise) or some other popular “god” to help us along?  Hopping, limping, straddling, wavering…. not terribly efficient!  The Hebrew idiom translated as “halt ye between two opinions” literally means, “hobbling upon two branches.”  “The imagery is a bird hopping between two branches, or of a person hobbling on two crutches made of branches.” (The New Interpreter’s Bible) Elijah was sent to wake-up the people. He didn’t just talk to them, however. (Hmmm … good lesson.)  He proposed a test to see which God (or gods) really had power. Whichever one produced fire would be recognized as having power. Read the whole story and look for how different the approaches are. The prophets of Baal called and called on their god, but there was no answer. Now, it is Elijah’s turn. He rebuilds the altar in the same way it was built when Moses had first sacrificed to God in the wilderness. He also has water poured all over things, so that no one could suggest the fire just happened.  Then he asks God to make Himself known.  Elijah knew that God was already there – he didn’t have to come. Seeing the results, everyone believed. (B-1) So, how does this apply to us?  We acknowledge our allegiance to the one God, but are we sharing any of that allegiance with weight thrown into the scale of matter – concern over symptoms, respect of health laws, subtle consent to heredity?  Might praying to fix a material condition be considered “worshipping through the medium of matter”?  It is a temptation to “war … over corporeality” – be concerned with exactly how things will resolve physically or humanly – rather than “rejoicing in the affluence of our God.”  (S-2)  Elijah was confident that his prayers would be answered – he didn’t worry about how.  Look at marker S-3, p. 204, to see what it is that would blind us and hide God’s presence from our view.  And in marker S-4, p. 278, look at what happens as we “approach Spirit and Truth.”  Choose where your thought will be!

Section II:  Things seem dark? Face the facts – you are created of Spirit ONLY
Sometimes when we’re having problems we may wonder where God is – why we’re not hearing an answer or getting help.  God hasn’t changed – hasn’t gone anywhere. But, it may be a good idea to check our perspective – are we facing Him, or are we looking for God – for help – in other directions, and thus have our back turned?  It is hard to see a solution behind your back – hard to see the image in the mirror when you’re not looking.  The children of Israel had turned away from God.  They were looking in every direction – except the right one – to figure out where they came from.  God observed, “They never look me in the face.  But when things go badly, they don’t hesitate to come running, calling out, ‘Get a move on! Save us!'” (B-3, The Message) It’s pretty easy to see why that approach doesn’t work.  The key is to be clear about one’s origin.  Stop looking to heredity or body-type or past experience to determine who you are. You’re not made up of Spirit AND matter.  Spirit doesn’t need matter to express itself. You’re not working your way OUT of matter into Spirit. (S-7) God, Spirit, made you and has given you everything you could ever need.  “God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.” (B-7, The Message)  Mrs. Eddy says, “materiality is the inverted image of spirituality.” (S-5)  Well, as long as you’re looking at something while standing on your head (believing that you’re made of matter, or a combination of matter and Spirit), you’re going to be confused.  Spirit doesn’t need matter to express itself.  As you think about who you are, think, “…harmonious and immortal [me] has existed forever, and [I’m] always beyond and above the mortal illusion of any life, substance, and intelligence as existent in matter.” (S-8)  The healthy, strong, intelligent, and focused you has existed forever. That’s the only you!  Face God – see the facts!

Section III:  Don’t take the bait! Food is not the issue – It’s how you think about it.
It seems that reading nutrition labels is quite the thing to do these days.  But, following this trend – believing that what we eat determines our health – leads us down a very dangerous path.  Take a look at the strong statement in S-11, p. 388, about what happens if we start believing that food is the nutriment of life.  The same applies when it comes to   “dieting” for the purpose of either losing or gaining weight.  Looking in the wrong direction doesn’t get us to the desired destination.  We do have to eat something. How do we decide what that “something” should be?  Paul instructed the Corinthians to eat “whatever is set before you”.  You wouldn’t want to hurt your host’s feelings by refusing that which has been graciously prepared because “it’s not on my diet.”  It is the motive for eating that is important.  I Cor.10:26 is taken from Ps. 24:1, likely given as a grace before a meal. It acknowledges that all food comes from God.  This being the case, it can’t hurt you.  We eat to glorify God and His abundant care for us. (B-10)  But, we shouldn’t eat more than we need, just because it tastes good. Mrs. Eddy’s statement, “…gluttony is a sensual illusion…” puts it in perspective. You have a choice!  Choose to recognize the reality of spiritual existence, where matter has no power to control. (S-12) A synonym for meek is “moderate.”  A definition is “manifesting patience.”  Plug those definitions into B-11, Ps. 22:26, to discover the key to feeling satisfied and having a “healthy” heart.  Are there things we shouldn’t swallow?  Yes.  But it’s not a specific food. It’s “the belief that either fasting or feasting” is going to make us better. (S-10)

Section IV:  Choose to be governed by Spirit. You are not the slave of sin and lust.
Does your body control you?  Or does God?  Popular culture says it’s okay to do whatever feels good.  The media is full of images of lust and sex, suggesting that it is not a problem to indulge your “natural” instincts. This is not a new issue, but it sure is “in your face” these days. Don’t be fooled.  It is never freeing to indulge matter. Peter pleads with the Christians scattered in Asia Minor, “Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.” (B-12, The Message) Mrs. Eddy gives basically the same message when she says, “Selfishness and sensualism are educated in mortal mind by the thoughts ever recurring to one’s self, by conversation about the body, and by the expectation of perpetual pleasure or pain from it; and this education is at the expense of spiritual growth. If we array thought in mortal vestures, it must lose its immortal nature.” (S-14) The first definition of mortal in Webster’s unabridged dictionary is “destructive to life.”  Immortal, on the other hand, has as a synonym, “imperishable.”  Honoring mortal, physical, impulses sacrifices your imperishable nature.  Is it worth it?  Spiritual growth leads to spiritual freedom.  It is your choice, but is satisfying a physical urge for momentary pleasure really worth opening “the Pandora box, from which all ills have gone forth, especially despair”? (S-13)  How can you break free of the “demands” of the body?  By insisting that you are “not under the law, but under grace.” (B-15)  Jesus’ resurrection demonstrated man’s dominion over matter (freedom from the hold of sin, disease, and death).  Exercise that freedom by claiming your divine right to be free, and act accordingly! (Check out S-15, p.253 for a more complete explanation.)  You resist contagious diseases – choose to resist just as strongly the “moral contagion” of paganism and lust which would suggest that matter can be a creator. (S-13) Matter can’t create!

Section V:  Choose Life!  Reject matter as an indicator of what is really going on.
How tempting it is to judge things according to the material senses.  Jesus didn’t do that.  He chose to see things as God sees them.  We can make that choice, too.  Jairus, the president of the synagogue, had a 12-year-old daughter that was dying.  He made a choice.  Instead of just watching and worrying, he approached Jesus and asked him to come and heal his daughter.  And then Jesus made a choice.  He recognized right then that this child was the daughter of God, and so was whole.  On the way to the house, a woman came up behind him and touched him – looking for healing.  (We read about this healing in last week’s lesson).  How might we react to such an interruption?  Would we, as Jesus did, feel so confident of God’s presence and care that we would stop and comfort the woman reaching out for healing?  Jesus not only stopped, but addressed the woman as “daughter.”  Jesus was clear that “man is the offspring of God, not of man; that man is spiritual, not material;” (S-21)  So, when the report came that Jairus’ daughter was dead, he was unfazed.  Shouldn’t we respond as confidently when we are faced with “the deads” – if it appears we’re “dead” in school or “dead tired” or in a “dead-end” job or that a relationship is “dead”?  Jesus assured the father, “Fear not; believe only, and she shall be made whole.”  And they continued on.  When they got there, he put out the crying mourners – those sympathizing with the false belief – and spoke directly to the child.  He “awakened” her to be who she had always been. (B-17)  Jesus didn’t focus on the “error” but on the Truth.  So, when you are faced with “the deads,” choose, as Jesus did, to put off the false evidence so that you can see what’s really going on (the spiritual facts.)  Put out any “why bother” thoughts or “it’s too late” thoughts, or “this can’t be fixed” thoughts – whether they appear to be your thoughts or the thoughts of others.  Do some house cleaning – consciousness cleaning. How would you react if there were so much dust on a floor that you couldn’t even see the wood?  You wouldn’t panic or believe that the floor was gone.  You would simply sweep away the dust.  Do the same thing when “the deads” tempt you.  Get out your mental broom, sweep away the false, and choose life! (See S-20)

Section VI:  Conformed or transformed?  There’s really only one good choice!
You choose how you see things, what you do, how you think, and who you are.  Choose wisely.  Be an independent thinker!  Follow Paul’s advice:  “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.” (B-2 J.B. Phillips).  Put another way, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.” (B-2, The Message)  Ask yourself where your thought is living. Is it concentrating on a limited view of yourself – your mortal problems, your mortal successes, your mortal desires?  Or is it dwelling in God – seeking God’s spiritual solution, God’s unbounded spiritual goodness, God’s dependable spiritual guidance?  The result of the first is death – a dead-end road.  The result of the second is “life and peace.”  (B-20)  You choose!!  What is your model?  You’ve got to get beyond “fading forms of matter, the mortal body and material earth.” (S-24)  They are not eternal, thus not reliable.  The seeming good can suddenly turn bad.  What’s secure is the kingdom of heaven.  That’s where you should take up residence!  Mrs. Eddy gives a great definition of the kingdom of heaven.  It’s not a place, but a state of consciousness.  It is “unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love.”  LET that dwell in you – fill your thoughts – and you’ll find a life that is consistent, permanent, and wonderfully fresh!  (See S-25)  Notice that health is on this list.  Hmmmm … so health doesn’t depend on the body any more than unselfishness does?  Is Life Spirit or in matter? (S-26)  You choose what you serve.  Why not choose Spirit and discover the self-completeness that goes with it!!!

Camp Director’s Note: The above sharing is the latest in a long series of CedarS Bible Lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms.* Originally sent JUST 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 and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson “mets” are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson in the books. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. 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 these 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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