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“Matter doesn’t matter!”
Application ideas on the “MATTER” Bible Lesson for March 15-21, 2004 by Julie Ward, C.S. (Boston, MA)

Many years ago, I accompanied a relative to his first Christian Science service. As we left, he summed up what he had learned: “Matter doesn’t matter!” He was so right, and yet matter claims to matter in a thousand different ways. Let’s follow five stories about people in the Bible who confronted that claim and proved that “matter doesn’t matter.”

Golden Text: the crucial question: “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?” Here ís a good working definition for us. Matter is simply “that which is not.” It has no reality, no power, no place, no cause, no intelligence. If we take it as our focal point, we’ll draw the wrong conclusions about everything that we experience.

Responsive Reading – How does God make “foolish the wisdom of this of this world?” He reveals to us that every bit of this so-called “wisdom” is based on a false premise, the lie of lack and limitation. Any conclusion drawn from a false premise must be untrue. Only if we begin with the true premise will our conclusions be correct. And here it is: “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him.”

Keynote sentence: “From beginning to end the Scriptures are full of accounts of the triumph of Spirit. Mind, over matter.” (SH1) Here are five people from the Bible who experienced these triumphs. Each section describes an event that “proved the power of Mind by what men called miracles.” But were they really miracles? Check out the definition of “Miracle” in the Glossary (591:21) and see what you think.

Section I – Moses
When Moses was sent to the Pharoah to ask the release of his people, he faced cynicism on the part of his friends and enemies. He needed proof that his mission was God-ordained. When God commanded that he throw down his rod, he saw it become a serpent. Check out the definition of “serpent” in the Glossary (594:1) Remember, what he was seeing was not a snake – it was a lie! It was the appearance that frightened him. When we think we are shocked and frightened by a thing, a person, or a circumstance, we must be sure to call it what it really is: “that which is not.” Then, we can “pick it up by the tail” – challenge it at its most threatening point. When Moses faced his fear, the appearance of the serpent DIS-appeared – just as it always will when confronted by Truth. Mrs. Eddy explains this, “The illusion of Moses lost its power to alarm him, when he discovered that what he apparently saw was really but a phase of mortal belief.” (SH2) What he APPARENTLY saw! As you read the lesson, look for words like apparently, appearance, suppose, suppositious, suppositional. They’ll help you to remember that matter is never real; it’s just “that which is not.”

The second step is the healing of the APPARENTLY leprous hand. Did the rod become a serpent and then turn back into a rod? Did the hand become leprous and then turn back into a healthy hand? Do we ever really have a lapse from and then a return to harmony? All that happened in this story – and all that ever happens – is that some phase of mortal belief is replaced by understanding.

Note how truly (SH3) and (SH4) fit together. If matter is “an error of statement” and nothing more, then the correct statement (the SCIENTIFIC statement) removes it.

Have you ever felt as if you were “up against a wall” in your healing progress? Be like Joshua! Persist in following God’s direction and know that His promises are kept. The ark, the symbol of God’s irrepressible law, compassed the city every day for six days. On the seventh day, the army and the priests took the ark around seven times, as if to show the complete power of that law. At the seventh time, the trumpets blew and the people cried out and shouted in celebration that the Lord had kept His promise and given them the city. Do we cry out and shout in praise and gratitude even before the healing is apparent?

Mrs. Eddy says of this story: “They went seven times around these walls, the seven times corresponding to the seven days of creation: the six days are to find out the nothingness of matter; the seventh is the day of rest, when it is found that evil is naught, and good is all.” (Mis. 279:16) The walls fell flat! And every wall that claims to shut us out of the total expression of good must fall flat before this recognition: that matter is nothing, and that evil is nothing, because good is all.

(SH7) Matter cannot talk back to the supremacy of Spirit. When He utters His voice, thatís the final word. Let’s claim the promise that “all matter will disappear before the supremacy of Spirit.” Will that leave us in a void? No! It only removes “that which is not.” It can’t remove a single thing that is true or real.

Elijah had to learn that there was no power in matter. The earthquake, wind, and fire claimed noisily that matter had a tremendous destructive power that could frighten and overwhelm him. Like Moses, he must have been tempted to flee before them. But he was looking at them from a different standpoint. He looked DOWN on them from the mountaintop, so he could see that the Lord was not in them. No matter how overwhelming the evidence of destruction may be in the world, we can stand by Elijah on that mountaintop of exalted thinking and know that if the Lord isn’t in it, it has no power whatsoever. We can refuse to be afraid. We can look at destructive relationships, financial catastrophes, illness, war, and even death, and say, “The Lord isn’t in you, and I’m not afraid of you.”

After all that commotion, Elijah heard “a still, small, voice.” We can hear it, too. Mrs. Eddy says of this voice (SH14), “We are either turning away from this utterance, or we are listening to it and going up higher.” This is a decision we make moment by moment. Which will it be?

If you haven’t yet memorized (SH11), I hope that you will do it this week. If we really know this, nothing can intimidate us. It’s the basis of our scientific reasoning.

How is it that the Shunammite woman could report that, “It is well,” even when it appeared that her son had died? Was she simply in denial? No! She had appealed to a higher law , the law of abundant life. This child had come to her in defiance of so-called material laws, and she knew that no such law could dictate his experience now. “Life is, always has been, and ever will be independent of matter; for Life is God, not formed materially but spiritually, and not subject to decay and dust.” (SH15) Be bold in realizing that YOUR life “is, always has been, and ever will be independent of matter.”

Remember that matter can’t tell you one single thing that is true, because it’s non-intelligent. Don’t ask matter how it is. It doesn’t know! Only Mind can tell us how we’re doing, and Mind says, “It is well.”

Here’s a great rule for healing and for living: “Immortal Mind must be acknowledged as supreme in the physical realm, so-called, as well as in the spiritual.” (SH19) Why do you think that Mrs. Eddy used the word “so-called” to describe the physical realm? Seize every opportunity to acknowledge the supremacy of Mind in your present experience. Nothing is left to chance. There is never a Mind-less moment.

At twelve, Jesus stayed in the temple to confer with the doctors. (Interpreterís Bible says, “Here ‘doctor’ takes on its early meaning of ‘teacher’ derived from the Latin verb doceo, ‘to teach,’ and refers to rabbis in their office of teacher of the Jewish law.”) Was he intimidated? Why not? Didn’t he know that his mind was infinite Mind – not defined by time or age or experience? We can know that, too. We can turn away from the limiting belief that mind is in matter – that it’s just “a pulpy substance under the skull.” Begin to identify yourself to yourself as “the infinite expression of infinite Mind.” You’ll be thrilled at the ideas that come to you. “Mind is not necessarily dependent on educational processes. It possesses of itself all beauty and poetry, and the power of expressing them.” (SH23) This is your Mind: the Mind you reflect today.

SECTION VI: Jesus and beyond!
There are two “miracles” here. First, Jesus came walking on the water – defying the laws of physics. Second, when they “willingly received him into the ship,” they found themselves immediately at the shore. The basic claims of time and space were proven to be a sham. How did Jesus do that? It wasn’t enough that he knew that he was spiritual, not material. He had to understand that he didn’t live in a material world – even that there IS no material world. We can begin to do this, too.

We all think that we need more time, but if we read the Glossary definition of “time” (SH25), we’ll see that it’s the last thing we need. Who needs more limits? What we need is LESS “mortal measurements” and more understanding.

Can you imagine a world in which there is “time no longer”? It seems as if time is the great tyrant that rules our existence, but “Mind measures time according to the good that is unfolded.”(SH28) Could we begin to measure time that way, too?

Let’s follow Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, and Jesus, and refuse to set our eyes on “that which is not.” Keep focused on that which IS, and miracles will follow!

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