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One is the “only-est” (not loneliest) number. Be in that number! “Doctrine of Atonement”
Lesson-met application ideas for Oct. 13-19, 2003 by Kathy Fitzer, CS

We are RIGHT NOW at one with God. (ONLY!) Let’s get busy and acknowledge that fact and act it out. Divine Love, expressed in the love of Christ Jesus has shown us the way. Jesus proved his statements by demonstration, and he expected his followers to do the same. We must not allow ourselves to be conformed to a world of limitation – with its beliefs of separation and future salvation. We must demonstrate our oneness with God now!

The basic idea of atonement has changed over the ages. Originally, sacrifices were offered as gifts to God in hopes of earning the right to get close to Him – to make up for the sins which would separate man from God. At present, the general Christian concept is that Jesus died on the cross in order to save from sin those who believe on him – allowing the faithful to be reunited with God at some future time. Mrs. Eddy predicted that these “ordinary theological views of atonement” would change radically. This week’s Bible Lesson is a call to action! Jesus called for practical repentance – to change one’s thinking so completely that we are able to follow Jesus’ healing example. To do this, we must sacrifice even our most cherished human beliefs, and demonstrate (through healing) man’s eternal oneness with God.

The Golden Text from Mark 10 could be translated this way (based on the original Greek): The Son of man (Jesus) came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life to liberate many from misery and penalty of their sins. (No wonder Jesus has been called the meekest and most unselfish man to ever walk the earth. Aren’t we grateful!?!)

Responsive Reading: (I Peter 2): Paul speaks here of a “peculiar people,” that is, “a people belonging to God,” whose job it is to let the light of the Christ shine in their lives. We are urged to “abstain from fleshly lusts” in order that our good works may be seen. What fleshly lusts would tempt us and obscure our true nature? Acceptance of time crunches or limitation of age, beliefs of illness, sensuality, fear, greed, jealousy, feelings of unworthiness …? Basically, anything that isn’t completely good. Vs. 21 tells us, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” Jesus was willing to suffer in order to teach us how to overcome challenges that present themselves to us. Let’s be willing to follow.

Section I: Jesus demonstrated man’s oneness with the Father.
Jesus urged his disciples to repent (change their minds for the better) because “the kingdom of God (harmony) is at hand.” The Message translates Mark 1: 15 as, “The [appointed period of] time is fulfilled (completed) and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent (have a change of mind which issues in regret for past sins and in change of conduct for the better) and believe (trust in, rely on and adhere to) the good news (the Gospel).” Jesus illustrates his point by healing Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. Being alert not to take personal credit for the good works he does, he makes it clear that his Father is responsible – and the purpose of the works is to demonstrate his oneness with his Father (one in quality – like the drop of water with the ocean or the ray of light with the sun.) Science and Health gives this wonderful definition of atonement (p. 18) as “the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love.” The doctrine of atonement does not connect man to God, but makes man aware of the connection that is already present. In support of Jesus’ statement, “I and my Father are one,” Mrs. Eddy tells us that “the relations of God and man, divine Principle and idea, are indestructible in Science” and that there is no lapse from this harmony, so no need to return. So, when there seems to be a lapse, we need to check our thinking and be sure we are judging things from a scientific perspective – looking at things as Jesus looked at them – from the starting-point of perfect God and perfect man being one. Check out the fourth tenet of Christian Science on p. 497.

Section II: Preparing the heart to be ready for an expanded concept of atonement

Psalm 50 expresses approval of all efforts to glorify God. Man’s concept of God has continued to expand throughout the ages, from the law of Moses (including burnt offerings) to the grace and truth of Jesus Christ which “taketh away the ceremonies and doctrines of men.” (S&H 131) Evidence of this grace is seen in Jesus giving God the credit for all good achieved: “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5: 30) Through his healing work, Jesus proved the miracles of old to be divinely natural. When questioned as to whether or not he was the Messiah, he pointed to his works as evidence. In order to be followers of Christ Jesus, we need to demonstrate our oneness with God. It does no good to talk the talk, without walking the walk. We must practice what we know to be true. How? By preparing our hearts to receive the Christ. By not accepting for a minute the belief that we can be separated from God – good. By saying, “Thank you, Father” as we witness his eternal goodness. The more we practice, the better we get!

Section III: We have a responsibility to follow Jesus’ example
Jesus did what he did to teach us how to do our own work – not to do it all for us. He gave his disciples “power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases” and then sent them out to heal the sick. (Luke 9) Jesus further said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14) Mrs. Eddy explains Jesus’ statement of going to his Father as the recognition that the Ego was not in Jesus’ body, but in the presence of Truth and Love. (S&H 14:21) Jesus’ disciples responded by going out and healing. They really got excited about the results, too – “even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” (Luke 10) Should we be doing anything less? We have been given a gift – the gift of understanding man’s oneness with God. It is our responsibility (and privilege) to demand that Truth overcome error in our daily walk and conversation, so that we are having “our part in the at-one-ment with Truth and Love.” (see S&H 21: 1-5) That includes not tolerating any sick thoughts or sick bodies – even if it “isn’t really a big deal.” It means being willing to take up the cross (to deal with every difficulty that comes our way – large or small) and follow Christ’s example of healing everything that isn’t Godlike. As we practice, we will see more “sudden cures.” Check out this instruction from Science and Health of how to heal (14:12-15), “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.” Life – God – certainly couldn’t be anything less than spiritual – and we are one with that Life! Yea!!! Now, let’s know that we know the truth, and act accordingly!

Section IV: Practical Repentance
Here we get into the rules of atonement. In a nutshell, we have to “lay down all for Truth, or Christ, in our warfare against error.” All is a big order, but there isn’t really any half-way when it comes to lining up with God. How do you put all your weight on the side of Spirit, while holding on to what seems to be a “no big deal” element of matter. Spirit and matter are opposites. We have to give up one if we’re going to have the full benefit of the other. We can’t effectively walk in one direction while looking the other. The promise is plain, “draw nigh to God, and God will draw nigh to you.” (James 4) There is only one way to “demonstrate the healing of Christian Science” and it is to stick to what Jesus taught – have one God – one Truth, one Life, one Love, etc. Give up everything that promises a quick fix or a rush of pleasure. It always brings with it an equal portion of potential pain. Stop thinking you can do anything without God, but instead bring every thought in line with “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12) That includes demanding perfection to be expressed in the body. Consistency is the key. We have to make steady progress – it’s not good enough to continue to “pray and repent, sin and be sorry.” We have to have “practical repentance” – letting our lives demonstrate our at-one-ment with God. This is how The Message translates James 4: 8, 10: “Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Get down on your knees before the master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” It’s not too hard. But, like everything, it requires: “self-denial, sincerity, Christianity, and persistence” to “win the prize.” (S&H 462)

Section V: Ambassadors for Christ
Mrs. Eddy defines the Christ as the “divinity of the man Jesus, … his divine nature, the godliness which animated him.” (S&H 26) The Christ is what gave Jesus his authority over sin, sickness, and death. Good teachers or good coaches don’t just tell their students about something, they practice what they preach. Jesus taught his students a purer sense of Love by allowing himself to be crucified in order to demonstrate eternal Life. Jesus prayed not only for his immediate disciples, but “for them also which shall believe on me through their word;” (John 17:20) That’s us. It was his desire that we would all know our Christliness (our oneness with God), as he knew his oneness with God. Just as Jesus’ immediate disciples had a responsibility to “go and bring forth fruit” (John 15: 16), we, as Christians, “are under as direct orders now, as they were then, to be Christlike, to possess the Christ-spirit, to follow the Christ-example, and to heal the sick as well as the sinning.” (S&H 138) As we get to know God and understand our relationship to Him, we can demonstrate what we know, and others will feel our love and see our good works and be blessed as well.

Section VI: Church – the structure of Truth and Love
Church is the greatest practice field in the world. It “rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle,” and it “affords proof of its utility.” (see the definition on p. 583 of S&H.) Jesus referred to his fellow church members as “brethren.” He established his church on “a spiritual foundation of Christ-healing.” (S&H 136) We must be sure that brotherly love and healing (of all things) is kept as the basis of Church. Church is more than a place to go. It must be the spirit of what we embody. It is evidence of our at-one-ment with God. As we embrace each other in the spirit of one church – one “structure of Truth and Love,” we will “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” (Heb. 10) To provoke is to stir to action. Do we love each other enough to encourage one another to be active healers – to be the best we can be?! If so, we are following Jesus’ example and finding our at-one-ment with God.

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