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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.)

Love – Jesus taught it.  Live it and be at-one with God and Christ.
Lesson application ideas for the week of April 11-17, “Doctrine of Atonement”
Prepared by Kathy Fitzer, CS of St. Louis, MO

Golden Text:  Stay with the teachings of Christ and you will be conscious of the presence of the Father and the Son – the source and the expression – the ever-present Life and the ever-present Truth, always.  What more could you ever want or need?

Responsive Reading:  What was at the heart of Jesus’ teaching?  LOVE!  What is required of us?  To love as Jesus loved.  How does Jesus say you will be recognized as his disciple?  “If ye have love one to another.”  It doesn’t say anything about how many “Sunday School answers” or quotes you know.  It doesn’t say anything about position or popularity.  It says to love each other. And if you do love – do abide in the teachings (doctrine) of Christ, and keep those teachings in your heart – what happens?  The promise is: fruit! The requirement is simple, really, even if it doesn’t always seem easy to accomplish.  Whether or not you love one another is more important than how much money you have, what your GPA is, how great an athlete you are, what you look like, how many friends you have, or even whether or not you’ve had that “big” healing yet.  The demand is to love – love all, always, in all situations. Keep that commandment, and you will abide in Love – be at one with God. And in God is found an abundance of everything you will ever need – including health and happiness!

Section I:  By example, Jesus taught the true sense of Love.  Follow the example! 
Questions:  What does love have to do with atonement (at-one-ment)? What does love have to do with knowing God, and why is it so important to know God?  Look for how love is defined in I John and how God showed his love for us? (B-1)  What did Jesus do for us and why? (B-3)  It seems that many Christians believe that just by acknowledging that Jesus suffered for us, our sins are forgiven and we automatically know God.  Doesn’t that seem a little like suggesting that we should get an A on a test just because of someone else’s example of studying hard?  Although a friend can teach you how to study effectively in order to get the A, you have to do the work yourself. Likewise, in order to be reconciled to God (get to know God) we have to follow Jesus’ example.  Jesus didn’t just heal; he taught! (B-6)   Was physical healing the most important part of Jesus’ work? Or was the real purpose to illustrate his (and our) “oneness with the Father”? (S-1)  Wasn’t it to show us how much God loves us and to acquaint us with Love (God)?  Love is a law and it redeems (frees) us from the bondage of mortal belief – the supposed laws of matter. (S-2)  Jesus was always obedient to God, because he recognized his oneness with God – just like a ray of light is obedient to the sun, because it is inseparable from the sun.  And how was that obedience expressed?  By loving enough to free himself and his fellow-man from the self-imposed bondage of mortal belief!  So, if we’re going to know Love and feel the power of Love, and express our oneness with God, we have to be obedient.  We have to live Love as freely as Jesus lived it!! We must love – always!

Section II:  Love of God, or love of human opinion? 
Question:  What motivates your actions?  Doing what tradition says is the right thing to do?  Or are you impelled by the love of God?  Do you talk the truth or really live it? Learn from the Pharisees what not to do.  Jesus calls them hypocrites.  The Message translates what Isaiah (Esaias) says about the hypocrites this way:  “These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it.  They act like they are worshiping me, but they don’t mean it.  They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy, ditching God’s command and taking up the latest fads.” (B-5) Hmm… are we ever guilty of “talking” the truth, but not really feeling it?  It isn’t a matter of what words we say, or how well we “follow the rules” as much as it is the love we feel for the law of God.  Consider this:  Suppose you go to Sunday School or church every week and read your lesson.  You don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t take drugs or medicine. But you do judge, look down on, and criticize those who aren’t doing what you think they should be doing, and entertain hateful thoughts every now and again. Might you have fallen into the trap of  “strain[ing] at a gnat, and swallow[ing] a camel”? (B-6) Better to eat a rich diet of the “meat of God’s Law, things like fairness, compassion and commitment.” (B-6, The Message)  At the same time, let’s be cautious of the leaven (the corruption) of human doctrines which constantly bombard us to-day. (S-6)  This would include the temptation to accept the subtle (or not-so-subtle) claims of popular diseases, learning and behavioral disorders, heredity, lack, teen-agedness, middle-agedness, or old-agedness, and the epidemic of lack of communication, unkindness, and misunderstanding seemingly so pervasive. (S-6) The demand is that we “leave all for Christ.” (S-8)  That’s huge!  But it all comes back to love.  We leave behind the false beliefs and the preaching, and we “bind up the broken-hearted” with tender words, Christian encouragement and pitiful patience. (S-9) Let’s practice the Christianity that Jesus taught – not the distorted version of words and creeds.  That is the demonstration of Love, the demonstration of Truth.  As Love and Truth are demonstrated (made known, expressed) in daily life (rather than just in words), error is cast out and the sick are healed – naturally! (S-10)  

Section III:  Through Love Jesus overcame the world – We can too
Jesus taught the power of Love to overcome the world – to overcome all barriers, all challenges, all disappointments.  Jesus was devoted to teaching others how to love – how to demonstrate oneness with God – through his example. Fully aware of the difficult times that lay ahead, he urged his disciples to “be of good cheer,” assuring them that he had “overcome the world.”  (B-9)  In other words, he had already proven the supremacy of Spirit.  Jesus sacrificed everything in order to show us the way.  What else but Love could enable him to make the sacrifices he made? (S-13) But what really is sacrificed?  Limitation.  And is that a bad thing? Jesus prayed to his Father for his students, but also for those who would believe in him through the word of his students.  That’s us! (B-10)  What lessons can we learn from the Gethsemane experience? (B-11) Think about the definition of Gethsemane. (S-12)  Are we willing to love just for the sake of loving?  Or do we feel let down when those we love disappoint us?  Think about how much love for God Jesus demonstrated – that he was willing to be obedient and go through with the crucifixion, even though he didn’t want to.  Do you run away from or to those things that seem unpleasant?  How about the sleep issue?  What did Jesus tell his disciples about the need to watch and pray? (B-11, v. 41)  Have you ever been tempted to sleep in order to avoid an unpleasant task?  Or hope that sleep will make the head-ache (or whatever) go away?  Wasn’t it Jesus’ willingness to stay awake to the presence of God that enabled him to be victorious over the grave?  Jesus took the direct route, even though it seemed a bit bumpier than the road of avoidance.  (See S-14).  If it ever seems like we’re having to deal with the same (or a similar) problem over and over, maybe we should check to see which path we’re choosing.  Notice what S-15 says about the “calm, strong currents of true spirituality.”  Strong currents of a river carve out deep channels in the earth, exposing that which had previously been hidden. By sticking with our oneness with God and loving – no matter what – a spirituality “deepens human experience” until the “bald imposition” (uncovered deception) of the beliefs of material existence are exposed for what they are and the channel of thought allows us to move forward, free from the supposition of separation.

Section IV:  The ultimate sacrifice yields the ultimate reward
Jesus allowed himself to be crucified in order to give the ultimate demonstration of his (and our) oneness with Life.  What better example of love could he have given? (B-12)  How tempting it is to look for life in matter?  When the women came to the tomb, they were looking for a body.  What they found was the risen Christ. (B-14 & 15) Jesus had told them that he would rise the third day. But, they couldn’t even fathom that possibility until they saw the empty tomb for themselves. Then they accepted what they had been told, even before seeing Jesus in the flesh. Without Jesus’ willingness to go through the crucifixion, would any of us have ever understood that life is not in matter?  It was Jesus’ great love that impelled him to allow “men to attempt the destruction of the mortal body in order that he might furnish the proof of immortal life.” (S-17) How are we responding to his love?  Are we still looking for Life and Truth in matter – in body?  Or, are we willing to be enlightened, and thus be saved from sin, sickness, and death.  What would try to crucify the Christ today?  Medical theories, a literal translation of the Scripture, apathy, affluence, the rejection of spirituality in one’s life?  The list is long.  But, now, as then, these persecutors will fail “to hide immortal Truth and Love in a sepulchre”  (of limited, mortal belief.)  The Christ is a living power – the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error. (S&H 583).  And the Christ has “rolled away the stone from the door of human hope and faith” so that hope and faith can see the possibility of “at-one-ment with the spiritual idea of man and his divine Principle, Love.” (S-18) United with Love, man loves.  Accepting this unity makes all things possible!

Section V:  Act out the love that heals
Jesus came to show everyone the power of Sonship.  We read in John, “God is love.”  So, it naturally follows that if you abide in, stay in, Love, you live in God and God lives in you – God and man being one! (B-16) The sun and its rays are one.  And because of this oneness, it is natural that the earth feels the effects of the sun.  Because God and man are one, it is natural that mankind feels the effects of Love.  One of those effects is freedom from sickness and disease.  Healing is natural!  Paul loved the man at Lystra enough to behold his perfection – to see his oneness with his Father.  The man responded by leaping!  He wasn’t tentative.  He didn’t respond with doubt or fear.  He didn’t hesitate just because he had never walked before.  Love revealed his completeness, and he leaped! (B-17)  In this section of Science and Health, look for the elements of “the prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick.” (S-19)  And then let’s take the challenge.  Jesus did what he did to teach us how to do it – to illustrate the oneness of God and man in such a way that it could be practiced.  Just being able to say the words or outwardly act like we’ve been told we should is not enough.  We must imitate his works. (S-20)  Maybe we don’t think we’re ready to raise someone from the dead, but we need to start by doing what we can do.  We’re given four commands. (S-22) 1) Go into the world.  Take your right thinking out into your community and the world, correcting any falsity that comes to your attention with the truth of what God knows about it. It is too easy to get so caught up in our lives that we forget to pray for others.  2) Preach the gospel.  If someone is sharing a problem with you, there are lots of ways to add a meaningful word of Truth that can help them.  Don’t be afraid to share what you know, and let others know of the treasure of Science and Health. 3) Heal the sick.  Don’t just accept unhealed conditions in yourself or in others.  Actively pray (commune with God) until your view of things corresponds with God’s. And don’t quit until there is a visible change.  4)  Love thy neighbor as thyself.  That means we have to love ourselves first – as God’s child.  Then see everyone the same way – as at-one with (inseparable from) Life, Truth, and Love.  Loving unconditionally means loving the man that God created, without limit.  If you stand directly in front of a fan, you feel the cooling effect of the fan – every time. If we keep thought in line (lined up perfectly) with unselfed love (the pure love that is the reflection of divine Love) the power of God is directly received – every time! (S-23)

Section VI:  Sacrifice what you don’t really want anyway.  Walk in love – in light!
Jesus was the ultimate example of unselfed love.  He “gave himself a ransom for all.” (B-1)  According to Webster, the act of ransoming is the redeeming or releasing of a captive by a payment.  Jesus paid for us through his sacrifice. Are we have to be willing to accept his gift of freedom?  Jesus’ special gift to all mankind was the love he taught. Love frees us from the destructive nature of hate, anger, envy, etc.  To love is to be in the light, rather than in the darkness.  God, of course, is always present.  But if you stand with your face stuck in a dark corner, you miss the light (miss God’s presence), no matter how bright it is.  Christ’s objective is to have us stay in the light, so Love doesn’t allow us to be satisfied with darkness – with being mediocre, or with hurting ourselves and others by becoming absorbed in matter.  It takes work.  Freedom doesn’t come simply by acknowledging someone else’s sacrifice. (S-25)  The last marker of the Bible repeats the Golden Text.  Abide in love – stay with and proceed from Love – and you have the fullness of all that is the Father and the Son.  If you “mess up” and take a detour from love, you’ll eventually feel the effects of looking for success or happiness in the wrong direction. (B-22)  But, don’t worry.  The Christ is always there to save you.  Suffering comes as a result of missing the mark – of sinning – thinking in terms of limited matter instead of infinite Spirit.  But suffering is only the experience of mortal sense – of the darkness.  It disappears with the light. (S-26) We can demonstrate what Christian Science teaches about the supremacy of Love, joy, good, mind, and life over their suppositional opposites. (S-27)  Walk in love – act out what Jesus taught – and you will contribute to the “higher humanity” which is the cement (the binding element) uniting all interests in Love.  (S-28)  Take the challenge.  You won’t miss a thing and you’ll gain everything!

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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