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[Begin Rightly with Mind!]

Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for:


February 15—21, 2016

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett) / (630) 830-8683

When facing a challenge, have you ever wondered, “Where do I begin?” One of the themes of this week’s Lesson is beginning rightly. Our Leader writes, “To begin rightly is to end rightly” (S5). If our challenge seems prolonged, we may have overlooked the right place to begin.

When our son was in pre-school he had a persistent cough for over a year. It didn’t seem to faze him, but it was very hard on the family. Throughout the whole time we’d occasionally call a Christian Science practitioner for help, and he’d get a little better, but the cough would return. We all spent a lot of time praying on our own too, and I often felt at a loss as to what I needed to know. At one point he suddenly became very thin and listless. At my wife’s urging I was led to call someone we hadn’t worked with before. It was a Sunday morning and the practitioner said he’d get to work and I should call back in forty-five minutes or so. When I did he asked how things were going, and I told him there was “a little improvement.” Then he asked, “Are you grateful?”

That was what I was missing! I wasn’t beginning rightly. I began to praise God right then, and that was the turning point in the healing. Our son made rapid improvement, and was completely healed in a few days.

The Golden Text sets the tone for beginning rightly with the straightforward command to “Praise God.” Theologian Adam Clarke (c. 1760-1832) notes there are many places in the scriptures calling for praise to Jehovah, but Psalm 150 specifically calls for praise to Elohim—the “infinite and self-existent Being…the great God in covenant with mankind, to bless and save them unto eternal life.” This distinction may seem minor, but to Christian Scientists it recalls the distinction made in Science and Health between the two creation stories in Genesis.

In the first chapter of Genesis—in what Mrs. Eddy calls, “the spiritually scientific account of creation”—the creator is called Elohim. From the fourth verse of the second chapter, the creator is called “Lord God” or Jehovah. In Christian Science we don’t begin by telling God our problem in an effort to be heard. We begin with God—the all-knowing Mind that meets every need—and praise Him for His wonderful works.

The Responsive Reading continues the theme of praise. The psalmist calls for praise to be voiced through a wide variety of instruments. As I ponder these passages, I’m reminded of sitting in a concert hall and feeling the massive force of the crescendo of a full orchestra. The sound is so powerful it seems to permeate the whole auditorium, even to the point where your entire body feels the vibrations coursing through you. Commenting on these passages, Albert Barnes (1798-1870) observes that many of the instruments mentioned in the psalm have been incorporated in the pipe organs often used in churches. But rather than each instrument being played by separate performers, the organ combines all the sounds together to be played by one individual. He writes, “Thus one mind directs the performance, securing, if skillfully done, perfect unity and harmony.” That has special relevance to us since this Lesson is on Mind. God is the one Mind, to whom we direct our praise, as well as the one Mind that drives our praise.

Section 1: Begin Rightly by Giving Praise to Mind

In keeping with our theme, the first Section begins with praise. The psalmist says, “All thy works shall praise thee” (B1) and then goes on to include all the saints and all mankind. Everything that exists speaks literally, or figuratively of God’s supremacy. There is no other cause, or creator. God is the sole source of all that exists. Those who recognize God’s power find an unassailable freedom and dominion, and spontaneously feel impelled to share this with others.

The “Shema” (B3), which is the cornerstone declaration of Jewish faith, is at the same time, a directive, a declaration, and a discovery. “The Lord our God is one Lord.” Our duty is to serve God by living in accord with that law, and applying it in every situation. Each of us might ask ourselves if we are loving God, with all our heart, soul, and might, and if we comprehend the significance of what this means.

The Hebrews were reminded regularly of the record of God’s care, protection, and guidance to His people. Manifestation of God’s care was proportional to their adherence to the commandments (B4). We too, can look back on our experience and see the direct correlation between our progress and our understanding of, and obedience to God. When recognizing God’s goodness, it’s only natural to be grateful (B5). As we’ve often said, we can’t be grateful and discouraged at the same time. Recognition and gratitude to God closes the door on discouragement, and primes the pump for our ability to see even more good, irrespective of the current situation.

Mary Baker Eddy considered the allness of God as a revelation, and a demonstrable law (S1). To human belief everything is flip-flopped. To human belief—or the carnal, mortal mind—it seems that Mind, God, is dependent on matter. This is absurd. The carnal mind is however, dependent on matter, because the carnal mind and matter are really two parts of the same lie. God, the divine Mind, is not dependent on matter for anything (S2, 3). Mind expresses its own ideas throughout the universe spiritually and in perfect harmony (S4). Mind is All-in-all. We can’t expect to understand God’s creation through mortal beliefs. “To begin rightly is to end rightly” (S5). Nothing begins with brain. All begins with Mind. Our textbook establishes this great fact—“Mind produces all action” (S6).

Section 2: Close the Door to Complaining and Turn to Mind

Not only is divine Mind the cause of all that exists, but God also maintains and sustains all of creation. Isaiah promises that God will hear every call for help (B6). According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, the word rendered “hear in Isaiah 41:17 is not the same as it is in the majority of other cases. Whereas in most cases, the word “hear” comes from the Hebrew “shema,” in this case, the Hebrew word is “anah” meaning “to heed, pay attention, or respond.” God doesn’t need to be asked because He’s already attentive to us. Our task is to acknowledge that.

When things are challenging, we seem to have a short memory. Forgetting the good that God has provided in the past, we focus only on the problem, lamenting our condition. The children of Israel typified this shortcoming (B8). It’s not in the Lesson, but when the people complain, Moses and Aaron don’t relay the complaint to God. They simply turn away from the people, and fall on their faces in the temple. Then when they are receptive, God speaks to them. They receive precise directions on how to bring water to the people. There was enough water for the people and their livestock.

Samuel uses Moses and Aaron as examples of turning to God, and serving Him with the whole heart (B9). We too, can resist the temptation to lament or complain, and instead stand still, and stick with God. [See “Effective Prayer” the “Daily Lift” for 2-16-16 by CedarS alum Amanda (Dunlap) Kiser.]

Science and Health reminds us that Mind is always present to save us (S7). Everything good comes from God. Citation S8 says, “Inharmony would make matter the cause as well as the effect of intelligence…” If that were true, Mind, God, would be left out of the equation. But matter is neither the cause, nor the effect of intelligence. Mind is the only cause, and all intelligence and wisdom proceed from Mind. Matter has no ability to produce anything, nor is it ever produced. Matter is a closed system, a liar lying to itself, never touching Mind or its idea. Mind, on the other hand, can never be separated from the wisdom and intelligence He bestows (S9). All wisdom is His wisdom.

Mrs. Eddy reminds us that we don’t need to plead with God to get His attention. He already knows our need. Remember the Hebrew word “hear” also means “respond.” From our human point of view our needs are met when we understandingly turn to God. But from God’s perspective, He is doing what he always does—supplying everything good, and maintaining His idea. It’s only the human perspective that makes it appear that God “hears us.” God can never do less than to “maintain His own image and likeness” (S11)

Section 3: Begin by Seeing Mind’s Control

It’s not unusual to hear the general population speak of God as mysterious and unknowable. In contrast, the psalmist invites us to “come and see” (B10). This indicates that there is no mystery. All we have to do is open our eyes to behold it.

Christ Jesus did all he could to make the “works of God” available and recognizable to as many as he could reach (B11). His motive wasn’t applause, wealth, or recognition. His only motive was to do show who God is, and what God does for man. Many who heard Jesus teach, were amazed and astonished at what he said, but that wasn’t always enough to make them follow his teachings (B12). The Jews were used to being taught by rabbis whose teachings were founded on centuries of scholarship. Jesus was, by comparison, a rustic. He had no formal training, yet he spoke with authority.

His authority didn’t stop with words. He proved what he said through healing. In the healing of the palsy (B13*) he not only challenged the belief of disease, but he also confronted a major theological belief of the time. Commentators point out that the Jews felt disease couldn’t be healed unless sin was blotted out first. Some commentators feel that the palsied man may have been suffering because he thought he’d sinned, and was working on overcoming it. They presume he might have been concerned because his friends were bringing him to be healed without addressing his sin first. Admittedly, this might be stretching the story a bit, but none-the-less, Jesus met that concern with confidence: “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” [* and PS]

Jesus’ declaration incensed some who were incredulous at the suggestion that Jesus had the power to forgive sins. Jesus addressed their objection proving both his power to heal sickness, and his authority to heal sin. It’s curious to me, that in those days, his detractors objected more strongly to his authority to heal sin than over Jesus’ ability to heal disease. Today the very opposite objection prevails.

To Mrs. Eddy, Jesus’ control over sickness, sin, and death are still provable today through the understanding of the power of divine Mind (S12). She understood that Jesus founded his church on the healing power of Mind and that he “claimed no intelligence, action nor life separate from God” (S13).

Our textbook gives us an illustration of how we can heal the belief of palsy (S14). A similar approach can be taken with any challenge of disease or illness. Acting from the understanding that Mind is the only power, we look beyond the symptoms to see the claim—what mortal mind is trying to do—then we destroy the claim by reversing it, depriving mortal mind of power through the all-power of Mind.

Citation S15 specifically addresses the belief that muscles are self-acting. Again, the spiritual facts directly refute the claims of the senses. Muscles are motionless and powerless unless mind moves them. In other words, even if action seems to be involuntary, the muscles do not act unless told to do so. In fact, Mrs. Eddy calls muscles “thought-forces” (S&H 199:27-29). Elsewhere in the textbook on page 399, our Leader uses the analogy of a water wheel or a mill. The water wheel doesn’t move unless the water is moving it. In the same way, muscles and organs don’t do anything unless directed to do so. Even though mortal mind claims to have the power to move both muscles and organs, the bottom line is that all power belongs to Mind (S16).

Section 4: The Gift of Healing Is Utilization of the Power of Mind

In the healing mentioned with our son, we worked at it a long time, but when my thought shifted, the healing came quickly. The psalmist also describes a great awakening and shift in his thought (B14). Adam Clarke elaborates on the phrase “miry clay”—“the longer I stayed, the deeper I sank, and was utterly unable to save myself.” The psalmist’s outlook completely changes when he begins to praise God.

Christ Jesus always began with God because he knew no mind apart from God. He was always ready to heal, and he taught his disciples how to heal as well (B16). The disciples put their new understanding to practice.

The lame man at the gate of the temple is a case in point (B17*). The man was at the temple as part of his daily routine. He was figuratively in the “miry clay” probably not expecting to be healed, but looking to the charity of others was the only recourse people in his condition had in those days. Peter and John must have been practicing what Jesus taught them, because they didn’t accept the picture of disability. They saw what Mind was seeing. They could have just made a pronouncement and walked away, but they expected immediate results, so they reached out to help him up.

The man was completely transformed, through the disciples’ understanding of the laws of God. Just as the psalmist and the lame man were completely transformed, the truths of Christian Science bring healing today. Science and Health states, “The effect of this Science is to stir the human mind to a change of base on which it may yield to the harmony of divine Mind” (S17). Healing isn’t a special gift. Jesus taught his disciples how to do it—how to begin rightly and stay with it until healing is realized (S18). The basis of healing is perfect God, and perfect man, and that’s beginning rightly (S19).

Beginning with perfect God and perfect man is such a dramatic departure from what the senses tell us, that it’s clear such inspiration comes from God. The more our thoughts are focused on “the enduring, the good, and the true” the more we will find healing in our experience (S20). Remember, healing isn’t a function of the human mind. Mind, God, is the only healer. That’s our authority. Our Leader invites us to “exercise this God-given authority.” We’re not at the mercy of matter, and the body doesn’t call the shots. We have the ability and authority to take control of the body, and “rise in the strength of Spirit” (S21). Our Leader tells us to be firm in our understanding of this. As we realize this omnipotent power of Mind over every function of our being, evil and disease have no chance, and no ability to harm us (S22).

Section 5: We Know Whom We Worship

Is it too much to expect that we can reach a tangible and practicable understanding of God? To many, God is thought to be unknowable. Again, the psalmist needs to shift his thought from a problem, to the awareness of God’s power. He’d put his complete trust in God throughout his life, and prays that he not be “put to confusion” (B18). Other Bible translations use the word “ashamed” here instead of “confusion.” So the psalmist is asking that his trust not be in vain. The author of Ecclesiastes found through hard experience that human avenues are dead ends incapable of giving us the answers we’re looking for (B19).

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia describes Athens in Paul’s time as “a great center of philosophy, architecture and art.” However the city was also riddled with idols that Paul couldn’t help but notice. On Mars Hill, Paul isn’t just having an informal chat. He’s meeting with an “aristocratic body, of the most venerable antiquity” (F.F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of Acts (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), 351-2). There were a variety of interests present—some who believed in one or more Gods, and some who didn’t believe in God at all. [B20*] The two major groups were the Stoics and the Epicureans. There simply isn’t enough space here to adequately explain these philosophies, but at the simplest level, the Epicureans believed there were no spiritual realities outside the material world and everything was made of atoms; there was no life after death; and that the function of the human mind is to avoid pain and seek pleasure (absence of pain). The Stoics were pantheists who focused on rational discernment, they embraced a materialistic and deterministic or fatalist view of the world accepting whatever came along as “God’s will.” It seems Paul’s audience was not so unlike the general public today.

Paul wasn’t looking to pick a fight with them, or to berate them. He began politely, looking for common ground, to show that he had taken notice of their efforts at worship. The root word for “unknown” agnoew, means “ignorance.” Paul carefully used what they confessed to not knowing as an opening to tell them what he wanted them to know, i.e. that “the living God” could indeed be known.

Further on in his speech Paul quoted their poets. Now, the way the King James Version reads, it always seemed to me that Paul was referring to the quote “For we are also his offspring”; but, the line before that—“In him we live and move and have our being”**—is also part of the quote in a poem to Zeus (F.F. Bruce, Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free , 242). But here, Paul isn’t speaking of Zeus. He’s utilizing the opportunity to impart a new view of the one God, the creator of all things in heaven and earth—the God that needs no temple, but gives life to all. No “diving into the shallows of mortal belief” for Paul! He’s diving into “the depth of the … knowledge of God” (B21).

Mary Baker Eddy echoes Paul’s words to our modern age in our textbook (S23). Accepting God blindly, and ignorantly without any expectation of understanding Him is no help to our faith (S24). Ignorance imprisons us in our own beliefs (S25). Our God is, and can be known, and seen throughout all creation. But here, we need to be careful. We don’t accept the pagan and pantheistic view that God is “in” His creation—in fact, just the opposite. In Christian Science we learn that everything is “in Him.” We are God’s image—His idea—man, the “expression of infinite Mind” (S27). Keep in mind too, that we aren’t humans who think about God. We are the expression of the one Mind. God is thinking about us. God is the only Mind, the origin and governor of all things. Divine Mind governs all consciousness, and action (S28).

Section 6: Ending Rightly

We began rightly with praise for God and His glorious works; and we end rightly with the same. The psalmist recognizes that human language is insufficient to express the depth of heartfelt gratitude (B22). In Job we have a direction to “stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (B24). That’s a strong position. As noted earlier, beginning with praise opens our thought to receptivity of God’s goodness. We don’t need to rush around in a frantic search. We need to be still and behold. Take the time to stop what you’re doing, and fix your thought on “the enduring, the good, and the true.” Recognize His marvelous works and give thanksgiving (B25, 26).

In Christian Science, we begin and end with God. Matter is neither cause nor effect. All action (everything that’s done) and volition (the will to do it) come from Mind (S29). So God, Mind, determines all that we do, and gives us our purpose. “Mind is the source of all movement” (S30). Everything that’s going on is going on in Mind. Matter plays no part at all. The phrase, “All is infinite Mind” (S31), doesn’t mean Mind is in everything we see. It means the only thing really going on is what Mind is doing. Remember God is not separate from the wisdom He bestows. His wisdom is the only wisdom there is.

It’s a great relief—to know that God is in charge, and that we can lean on Him (S32). Mind is governing all. Thank goodness! Let’s praise Him.

[W's PS1: Cobbey Crisler on healing with “good cheer” & forgiveness as in Matt. 9:2-8 & Luke 5:18-24
“Verse 2, Chapter 9: ‘We have a man in bed with the palsy.” Can you imagine Jesus going by a man who had been that long without moving and telling him to “be of good cheer”? But there’s nothing Jesus said that he didn’t discern was needed. What that man needed, more than physical movement, was to be of good cheer. Jesus said, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” Jesus knew at a glance the whole history of a case.”
(Verse 3). The scribes say, “This man blasphemes.” In order to get the healing, he has to eliminate the theological obstruction to healing first.
(Verse 5). He says, “What is easier? To say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?”
(Verse 6). “Because the Son of man does have power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy), Arise, take up thy bed, and he goes.” Book of Matthew, Auditing the Master: A Tax Collector’s Report, p. 42-43]

* [W: You can download insightful, Bible commentaries by B. Cobbey Crisler on this and other citations as listed in the upper right corner of CedarS online version of this Met..]

**[W. on citation B20: Mary Baker Eddy compares her Scientific Staement of Being to Paul's words to the Athenians and callls on us to prove it! "St. Paul said to the Athenians, “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” This statement is in substance identical with my own: “There is no life, truth, substance, nor intelligence in matter.” It is quite clear that as yet this grandest verity has not been fully demonstrated, but it is nevertheless true. If Christian Science reiterates St. Paul’s teaching, we, as Christian Scientists, should give to the world convincing proof of the validity of 94 this scientific statement of being. Having perceived, in advance of others, this scientific fact, we owe to ourselves and to the world a struggle for its demonstration." Retrospection and Introspection 93]

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