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[Cherish our God as a God of Everlasting Love!]
Metaphysical Application Ideas on the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Everlasting Punishment
for October 28-November 3, 2019

by Kerry Jenkins C.S. House Springs, MO (314) 406-0041

"Has God rejected his people? By no means!" This is the Golden Text from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. To really take this idea in, to move away from superstitious views and human inventions of God, we must understand more clearly who we are worshiping. As a parent of five, and one who has studied and read many, many parenting books, and books about educating children, it has become abundantly clear in my experience and through many, many scientific studies, that punishment does not actually teach effectively. It may have taken man decades, or millennia to figure this out, much less act on this fact, but God has always been loving.

God, the law of divine Love, can only ever love. Love certainly corrects, guides, leads, teaches. But never punishes. Sometimes we may feel we are being punished. This is often because we are doing things that aren't supported by the law of Mind/Love (for example). If you were to try to fly a piece of steel in the air on a windy day you would be unsuccessful, no matter how carefully you prepared or how hard you tried. The laws of physics don't allow a random piece of steel to fly, even if you attach kite string and throw it up in a good wind! You didn't do anything wrong, you aren't being punished! It just is not an activity that is supported by physics as we know it. In a similar way, when we follow a course that is led by mortal sense rather than spiritual, we may find ourselves unhappy, frustrated, and so on.

If we understand the nature of God as Mind, Truth, Life, Love, and so on, we start to see that this law is the source of good alone. Any activity outside the realm of good, is not supported by this law and is necessarily not from God—has no support from God's law of good. We can trust our loving Parent to guide us with infinite mercy, patience, kindness and love—just as we would want to guide our own children or be guided by our human parents. This message of mercy and love appears infinitely more often in the Bible than any message of punishment! Might not this focus on punishment be an indication of man's misapprehension of God's nature?

Our Responsive Reading brings us nearer to understanding God's nature as a teacher, but also one who is trustworthy, one who is a refuge, a place of safety. God is fair and just and Her justice, faithfulness, rightness are as substantial, deeply rooted, solid, and vast as "mountains" and as deep as oceans!

Again, as a parent, we want to provide our children with a deeply rooted sense of their safety, that they can trust us even when they get angry, sad, afraid, to love them and help them get through their trials without judgment. Likewise, if we are not a parent, but a son or daughter, we certainly want to feel that we can trust our parents to always love us, even when we make a mistake! With justice and love, and mercy as vast as mountains, deep as oceans, we can count on our Father-Mother Love to support and love us “through thick and thin!”

Section 1: We can only advance as we understand our God as Love.

To move forward spiritually, to see our unlimited potential, our wholeness and goodness, we have to know our Father-Mother as all-good, all-loving. The understanding that we get from Christian Science, and from our study of Christ Jesus' teachings, reveal a God who blesses man with health, joy, safety… Through this understanding we begin to let go of our fears that stem from a material sense of reality, one governed by matter. Mary Baker Eddy (MBE) tells us that "The starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all, that there is no other might nor Mind,–that God is Love, and therefore He is divine Principle." (S1) If we think about this statement carefully and accept a definition of God that is all-good, where would punishment fit? We can find ourselves, through a deeper, fresher understanding of God, one that is propounded in Christian Science and taught by the Master, moving toward freedom from sin rather than mired in a lack of spiritual progress.

Section 2: The concept of eternal punishment springs from a human concept of God.

A false concept of God as a human-like, but spiritual, being, leads us to attribute human qualities to Deity. This is a common and historically rooted human tendency. It can be hard to imagine a being that would possess unlimited mercy, forgiveness, tenderness, love… This is because we often try to model Deity after what we know of man. But if we are willing to abandon our limited experience for an infinite, boundless one, we can find ourselves becoming conscious of the one, divine, infinite Being. This is the One who is the source of Life for all Her ideas, for man.

Let's dig a little deeper to find the healing power in this Commandment that is Mary Baker Eddy's "…favorite text…" S7. She tells us that this Commandment underlies everything that defeats sickness, sin and death! It "…bases the Science of being, by which man demonstrates health, holiness, and life eternal." (italics added) And, she tells us it defeats war on every level, injustice of every kind, and in the end there is nothing left to be "punished or destroyed." That is quite a power, worth discovering!

Joshua was urging the Children of Israel not to fall into the habit of accepting the gods of the people around them as their gods. What does this mean to us today? What are the "gods" that surround us, that tempt us be lulled into a semi consciousness that is not vitally awake to God's power to truly bring us satisfaction and joy, health and holiness? This is a question that we have to ask ourselves because the answers will certainly vary. It could be an over focus on electronic devices, on day to day accomplishments, on anxious thoughts about responsibilities, on any kind of obsessive attention to our bodies. Having only "one God" means that we have the opportunity to experience the infinite scope of joy, of health, intelligence, satisfaction. We are not limiting ourselves, but expanding our experience beyond what the human mind can imagine. And by doing this we are left with nothing that needs punishment!

Section 3: Leave superstitious ideas of God behind.

King Saul unwisely and superstitiously ordered that the troops fast while engaged in battle with the Philistines. His son Jonathan somehow missed that bulletin and ate some honey that he found on the ground (after leading a defeat of the enemy). Through a series of superstitious tests that are not included in this portion of the Bible lesson, it is determined by Saul, that Jonathan must die in order to fulfill the oath that Saul has made to God about this fast. Here again is a human concept of God as one that punishes, or would be appeased by a sacrifice of some kind.

Have you ever found yourself praying in such a way that you are making a "deal" with God? I know when I was younger some of my prayers did take the form of such "deals". "God, I promise that if you help me feel better….I'll never do….again." This kind of prayer assumes that God is a super powerful form of human that can be appealed to so as to intervene in some way in human affairs. This is not God.

God, the law of Love, is ever in operation loving Her creation. This law, much like the law of gravity, operates regardless of our appeals, or our "deals". When we understand better that God is the ever-operative law of divine Love, we start to be able to uncover the ways in which we are actually kept safe and whole through this law. This is the case here for Jonathan, who found safety when the army opposed Saul's willingness to sacrifice his own son to a false concept of a vengeful God. Whenever we find ourselves worrying that we "aren't good at prayer—or Christian Science", "we aren't worthy of healing", "Christian Science is too difficult"…. we are engaging in a superstitious concept of God.

The law of Love operates at all times for all creation. Every idea is ever worthy. Christian Science can only open doors to this understanding, it is never complicating the path to understanding the natural and perfect law of Love. We can trust Love to uncover whatever is wrong and reveal the presence and power of divine Truth.

Section 4: Is the power of God diminished by a lack of belief?

No, God's power is constant, because it is divine law. The example in this section of Jesus returning after healing multitudes, to his home town might seem to contradict this statement. But the power of God was never less in that town. The people there expressed skepticism of Jesus' place based on the fact that they knew him as a carpenter and just generally on the fact that he was familiar to them. This is another example of a lack of understanding of God, and of Christ Jesus. How could this man that they watched grow up in their community, possibly be the prophesied Messiah? It was improbable.

If we want to demonstrate better the healing power that Jesus showed us was our duty and right, we cannot rely on human reason, but on deeper, humble recognition of the Christ spirit wherever it appears. Maybe it comes from an unexpected family member, from someone with completely different political leanings, or from someone of another faith. Be open to the Christ power wherever it may appear, and especially when it appears in an unexpected form! Then, we will not find our human expectations blinding us to the power and presence of the Christ.

Section 5: God didn't create a sinful man.

Without a sinful man, there is no punishment. Isn't that the crux of this lesson? God is wholly good, where is sin in that God, or that God's creation? The struggle to free ourselves from the false and empty rewards of sin can seem a pretty constant one. But starting from the standpoint of God's all-goodness, of man as reflection, rather than matter, brings us closer to the victory that we are looking to become conscious of.

We are striving to become consciously aware of our present freedom from any pull away from that law of Love, of Truth, and Mind. I wonder if it is in the very act of being watchful, conscious, awake, that we are free from sin? When we "sin", forget our relationship to God, we are really numbing ourselves, choosing the ease of sleep, over the rigor (but joy) of alertness, of conscious awareness of our true selfhood.

We can build on the previous sections of this Bible lesson: let us be determined to have no other gods, because we know God to be good alone, abandon human concepts that include superstition or "deals", humbly accept the presence of Christ in our experience. This process leads us to see our sinless nature.

Section 6: God only blesses man.

If we look to human experience or history, we could interpret it in a way that bolsters a view that God punishes those that are sinful, rewards those that are good. This method of evaluation is flawed. It looks at the results and seeks a reason or cause, inventing one.

There is never a spiritual reason for evil. There is no evil in Spirit. Jesus points to two examples, (in citation B19), of terrible events that were explained as acts of God punishing those who must have sinned. (The entire chapter of Job refutes this logic!) Jesus points out that we are to "repent", to constantly rethink, dig deeper for a clearer concept or consciousness of God and man.

If we reason as did those that Jesus is rebuking, then we are trapped in a superstitious web of condemnation—either of self or others—when we seem to be lacking either finances or health, joy, or family. God only gives us abundance. "God hath blessed thee for ever." B22

Section 7: God's first and forever law is love for man.

With the right understanding of God as the law of Love, Spirit, Mind, Truth, and so on, we find ourselves being freed from sin, from a feeling of separation from Love. The closer we feel to God and to His Christ, the more we rejoice. With this law surrounding us every minute, we cannot help but grow to be more and more conscious of this presence and power, and yield to its freedom. The only thing "everlasting" is that "everlasting strain" of Love. S32

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