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Be Wedded to Love!
Application Ideas for the Lesson on Love
July 24-30, 2006
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Bartlett, Illinois

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 (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp.

 
Golden Text
“Thy Maker is thine husband…” The Hebrew word, husband means: “master” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). In modern times, thinking of a husband as a master doesn’t sit very well. But in spiritual terms we can see that God certainly is Master over His creation. This doesn’t mean that God is a tyrant. But since God is Love who wouldn’t want to have Love as their master to bestow goodness upon His people?  The husband or, master of the house cares for the welfare of his family, protecting and providing for them in every way.
 
Responsive Reading
The metaphor of the marriage relationship between God and His people continues in the Responsive Reading. In ancient times, a woman without a husband had little hope of prospering. Israel had been as “a woman forsaken.” It seemed that God had left them to fend for themselves. But God returns with the promise of a permanent relationship with His people. The relationship is “a union resting on a new and unchangeable covenant” (Abingdon’s Bible Commentary). Israel shall not be called “Forsaken”-destitute, or “Desolate”-laid waste. Israel shall be called by a new name, just as a bride takes a new name from her husband. God holds His people as “a crown of glory” and “a royal diadem.” These two symbols are the most recognized signs of royalty. As a king is known by the crown he wears, God is known by His people. To redeem means to buy back a relative’s property or to marry his widow (Strong’s). You remember how Boaz marrying Ruth was considered a great blessing for her? In the same way, Israel will be recognized as “the redeemed of the Lord.”
 
Section I: Love Is the Starting Point
The first section is quite straightforward. “God is Love” (B1). He saves us, He loves us, and He redeems us. He is our only Father-Mother. (B2-4). Everything we are is the result of God’s love for us. Science and Health puts it very succinctly: “More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go” (S1). Although we may use human terms and examples to describe God, we can only truly understand Him through a divine sense (S2). Mrs. Eddy felt that understanding God in a spiritual sense was the starting point of understanding everything else (S3). Knowing God in a completely spiritual way, promises to bring “radical changes” to one’s approach toward God and to one’s own life (S4, 5). We repeat the phrase, “God is Love” quite a lot. We read it on church and Sunday School walls. Do you think we ever take it for granted? This week, let’s try to really understand what it means.
 
Section II: Love Casts Out Fear
What are you afraid of? Do you worry about love, shelter, supply, and direction in life? Yet God is able to meet all of these concerns. In the 23rd Psalm (B5), God is described as the shepherd who is our provider, guide, and host. “In ancient Near Eastern literature kings are called shepherds of the people” (Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary of the Bible). “Ancient law provides that the host take his guests under his protection” (Ibid.). (Editor’s Note: In a “random” Bible opening by CedarS Founder, Ruth Huff,  to Isa. 35, as to CedarS purpose, the high-way of holiness was what was promised to as the other name, or new name, for CedarS. The rest of the chapter tells “the rest of the story.”) The “highway” (B6) is the way by which the exiles are able to return home to Israel through the desert. Even when we seem to be far from home, the path is made safe by God. The way is made straight for us even in the midst of what seem to be tremendous difficulties. We have no need to fear because we actually dwell in God. To dwell in Love is to dwell in God (B8). “To live in love is to live victoriously over all error and all anxiety” (Interpreter’s). Perfect love casts out fear. 
 
To say that, “trials are proofs of God’s care” (S6) may sound like we think God sends us trials to prove his care for us. But the word “proof” means “any effort, process, or operation that ascertains truth or fact; that degree of evidence which convinces the mind of the certainty of truth or fact…Proof is derived from the personal knowledge, or from the testimony of others, or from conclusive reasoning” (Student’s Reference Dictionary). In essence, Mrs. Eddy defines “proof” when she writes “Every trial of our faith in God makes us stronger” (S7). The purity of our love should be proportionate to the degree of difficulty we are facing. Fear has no place in Love. A degree is one step in a progression (Ibid.). So even if we aren’t fully aware of Love’s power, the understanding we have still destroys fear and keeps us on the right path (S9). Mrs. Eddy declares that the power of Love is omnipotent. Love is adequate to meet every circumstance. (S10).
 
Section III: The Key to Healing
Have you ever felt like your problem was perpetual, incurable, and that it refused to be healed? Sometimes it can seem like we’re dealing with a problem that we just can’t beat. In Jeremiah (B9, 10) it is promised that when we return to God we will be delivered. In Luke (B12) Jesus heals a woman who had been struggling for twelve years and who had no help from the physicians. This woman had some faith, but it was mingled with superstition. She believed that if she touched the most holy portion of Jesus’ clothing that she would receive power from it and be healed. Jesus detected this. He didn’t allow her to think that her healing was the result of her superstition. He made sure she understood that her faith made the difference. Sometimes we are tempted to accept superstitions. Some of these might include drinking plenty of fluids to “cleanse” our bodies or drinking orange juice to defend against a cold. Any time we look to material means for healing, we are in some way believing in a superstition. Originally superstition had to do with overzealous religious practices. Today many fall into all sorts of material observances with religious fervor. In Psalms (B13) we are reminded to remember all that God has done for us and that God alone is the Great Physician. He only is capable of making us whole. He can even “snatch the sick from the very jaws of the grave” (Abingdon).
 
Our Leader reminds us that Jesus’ “benign thought” enabled one to “rise above…physical thought-taking and doctoring” (S11). Benign is defined as “kind; gracious; favorable; generous; liberal; having a salutary influence; wholesome; not pernicious…” (SRD). This is the type of thought that brings healing. Aesculapius represented the healing arts of medicine. We still are being flooded with descriptions and warnings about disease. Mrs. Eddy went to great lengths to acknowledge the generally good intentions of those practicing material medicine (S12). We don’t discount their efforts. Sometimes though, in trying to do good, some harm is done. Constantly warning us of diseases has the unintended effect of sticking these unwanted images in our thinking. The way to erase them is to “divest thought of false trusts and material evidences” (S13). Hope should be placed in God alone. Citations S14 and 15 are directed to one who is attempting to heal others. Long speeches and theories are not enough to heal. One may be entirely correct in his statement of Christian Science, but without love, his practice is not legitimate. We’re told that if we reach the patient through divine Love, we will heal in one visit. Here is a challenge to us all. We might ask ourselves, “How benign is my thought? How can I reach the patient through Love?” Love is talked about more than almost any other subject. So much so that when it comes up, sometimes our eyes glaze over and our ears close up. We might think, “I’ve heard it all before.” But Love is not lived nearly as often as the words are spoken. Mrs. Eddy once asked her students, “What is the best way to do instantaneous healing?” After several of the students gave their answers, it is said that Mrs. Eddy gave this answer: “I will tell you the way to so it. It is to love! Just live love-be it-love, love, love. Do not know anything but Love. Be all love. There is nothing else. That will do the work. It will heal everything; it will raise the dead. Be nothing but love” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy p. 134). The account goes on to say that one must also rebuke and hate iniquity. This leads to the next section.
 
Section IV: Genuine Repentance and Sincerity Required
The words in Psalm 19 (B14) are those of a penitent sinner. It is an acknowledgement that not all our errors are recognizable. It shows a humble desire to be set right. Iniquity is not compatible with love. A willingness to be corrected demonstrates humility. In the story of the woman washing Jesus’ feet (B15) we see an example of earnest repentance. Commentaries indicate that the woman was most likely coming back to Jesus from a previous encounter in which she was healed of some sin. Her love and gratitude were powerful enough to bring her to him in the presence of hostile company. She poured forth her affection with tears and she was not hindered by what onlookers might think about her. Her devotion is contrasted by the arrogance of Simon. He neglected to even wash his guest’s feet with water, but she anointed his feet with costly ointment. Simon may have looked good and appeared to be proper, but his actions were hollow. The woman’s affection was heartfelt and sincere. She had truly given up sin and was filled with love for her Redeemer.
 
Mrs. Eddy places this story in the opening pages of the chapter on “Christian Science Practice.” Although not in the lesson, she asks whether Christian Scientists sought Truth like Simon (to look good) or like the woman, (from the depth of the heart). When someone has really given up sin and felt the power of Love’s forgiveness, they can easily be brought to “tears of repentance.” The path to healing requires an honest approach. If one hasn’t really given up sin, he can’t really understand the redeeming power of Love. When a performer or an athlete is really connected to what he’s doing we say he is “in the zone.” Mrs. Eddy urged Christian Scientists to be like this woman and “be in the zone.” We can learn the rules and memorize citations, but the real healing power is in the sincere love of the good and pure Christ. These moments of repentance are some of the landmarks Mrs. Eddy refers to in citation S21. When they occur, we naturally pause. Then we push on with enraptured thought. These instances don’t happen when we’re proud. They happen when we are humble and ready to learn the lessons of Love.
 
Section V: Love of the Brethren
In this section, we are urged to love one another. I don’t think it’s wrong to apply this command specifically to those in the church community. Simon’s self-righteous criticism had no place in the church Jesus was building. Jesus gave the commandment to follow his example and love as he did. In Philippians (B19) we find further clarification of what it means to have the “mind of Christ.” More than mere thinking, “it means to center one’s thinking on something and to steer one’s actions by this mind-set” (Interpreter’s). Jesus gave us more than rules; he demonstrated a way of life. He showed by example what it meant to love one another. To love those who are obviously in need seems reasonable enough. But sometimes it may seem pretty hard to love a fellow worker who may see things differently than you do.
 
Mrs. Eddy points out that Jesus didn’t teach rituals, or bestow special gifts to a privileged few (S22). He demonstrated divine Love in action. We need to demonstrate this love sincerely. To really do something in Jesus’ name is to do it as if embodying his character. That is real demonstration. She states bluntly that the “vital part, the heart and soul of Christian Science, is Love” (S23). Loving God and man is the bottom line (S24). There should be no favoritism in our love. True brotherhood means equality for all. Nobody is left out in the cold. Looking not on our own things, but on the things of others is seeking our own in another’s good (S25). This is being unselfish. The textbook says Love is “redolent with unselfishness” (S26). Redolent means: “having or diffusing a sweet scent” (SRD). When we pass a newly mown lawn, we can smell it from quite a distance. Is our love diffusing the sweet scent of unselfishness?
 
Section VI: Love Is the Ending Too
This Lesson concludes as it began-with joyful praise for God’s love for us. It is reiterated (B21) that God has called us His own. He will never forsake or neglect us. He commands us to look only to Him (B22) because there is nothing else to turn to. The beginning and ending is Love. Mrs. Eddy asks, “Can we ask Him to be more?” (S27). Love is infinite, ever-present, and fills all space (S28-30). What else could we need or want? As our Leader puts it, “That is enough!”

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 citations referenced (i.e. B1and S28) from this week’s Bible Lesson in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30) The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. 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.)
Enjoy!

Warren Huff, Director      director@cedarscamps.org
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