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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 see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp. If more information or the text of this Lesson is desired, please see the Director’s Note at the end. The citations referenced in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. (Other reference books are fully noted at the end.)

Claim your immunity from all claims of evil – Application Ideas on “Unreality” (Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson for September 26-October 2, 2005)
by Julie Ward, C.S. (Westwood, Massachusetts)

As you read the lesson, watch for the words and phrases that describe reality, and those that describe unreality. You might find it helpful to make a list of both.

GOLDEN TEXT – What a perfect promise for us to claim every day! BECAUSE we’ve made the Most High our habitation – because we live. move, and have our being in infinite Good – we are immune to all the claims of evil. They can’t “befall” us randomly or maliciously. No plague comes nigh our dwelling, because we are constantly dwelling in Love and dwelling on Love.

RESPONSIVE READING – In the Bible, the mountains often symbolize stability and permanence, but even the mountains will be removed before God’s kindness can depart from us. The covenant of His peace will never be removed, because we can never get outside of divine Love. Have you ever been “afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted”? Often the tempest of stormy emotions leaves us feeling that we’ll never be comforted. But right where that hurricane of emotions seems to be, there is a promise: “”I will lay thy stones with fair colours. and lay thy foundations with sapphires.” (verse 11)These precious stones indicate not only stability, but beauty and value. Jerusalem is built on this foundation, and so are all of her inhabitants. For verse 14, Moffatt’s translates, “Your triumph shall be stable.” (Not just a temporary sense of relief, but a permanent realization!) No matter how many suggestions “gather together” against us, they can’t succeed if they’re not from God. And “every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn” – even if that tongue is your own. “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,” so to claim that heritage, we must first identify ourselves as God’s servants. “…And their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” That rules out any opportunity for self-righteousness. In fact, to claim a sense of self-righteousness is to deny our place as servants of the Lord, and thus to forfeit the promises that go with that role.

SECTION I – Accept no counterfeits!
The first rule: “Ascribe ye greatness unto our God.” (B1) If we ascribe all greatness to God, we won’t ascribe greatness to any problem. We won’t be impressed by the complexity or duration or popular acceptance of any problem, for we’re too busy ascribing greatness to our God. “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” (B2) The question is: do we really want to see that goodness? Do we want it enough to mentally keep our eyes open and not focus on the negative (which is illusion anyway)? This takes a willingness to deny self-pity, self-justification, and even self-condemnation. The five material senses “call evil good, and good evil.”(B4) Woe unto them! Will we believe them? No! God says, “Incline you ear, and come unto me.” He says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” (B5) This leads us right into Science and Health, where Mrs. Eddy contrasts God’s thoughts (reality) with material and temporal thoughts (unreality). Here are a few examples:

God’s thoughts – , perfect, eternal, substance, Life, creations of Spirit, everlasting Truth, divine, infinite, uncontaminated, immortal, limitless, intelligent, REAL!

Material and temporal thoughts – human, involve error, lack a divine cause, COUNTERFEITS, transitory, belief, illusion, without spiritual identity or foundation, supposition, mortal, limited, non-intelligent, UNREAL!

See what you can add to these lists as you read the lesson. Also, look for words like suppose, suppositional, suppositious. These will help us to see unreality for what it is: a suggestion, a “what-if ” Unreality poses the question, “What if there were a power or a being apart from God?” Mrs. Eddy says, “Evil calls itself something when it is nothing.” (S&H2) Are we going to believe it?

SECTION II – Human personality is a counterfeit.
David’s son Absalom was known throughout all Israel for his beauty, but his thought was clearly less than beautiful. As you study this section, you might ask yourself how much you’re influenced by physical beauty. For two years, Absalom lived in Jerusalem, but was kept out of his father’s court. He asked Joab to intercede for him, but Joab didn’t cooperate. In frustration, Absalom burned Joab’s barley field. ( Here we begin to get a hint of Absalom’s willfulness and ferocity.) Finally, Joab went to see David, and David allowed Absalom to visit him. Instead of gratitude, though, Absalom plotted to overthrow David. He did this through what The Interpreter’s Bible calls “the trappings of power and promise.” He stationed himself beside the gate of the city with chariots and horses and fifty men (power). He then ingratiated himself with the the men of Israel by greeting them as they went in with petitions to David, insinuating that David would not understand and appreciate them, but that he would. The Interpreter’s Bible includes this commentary: “Absalom’s methods of currying popularity still have their appeal in the modern world of politics: the show of interest in a man’s private life, the pretense of being that protector of the humble, the insinuation that the prevailing government is incompetent, and the refusal of homage in the interests of equality.” (volume 2, page 1122). Absalom “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” by first dazzling them with beauty and power, then identifying with them as a fellow under-dog. He said in effect, “No one in power listens to you, but I would! I’m just like you!” Isn’t that the way that evil often suggests its way into our thought? It would try to relate us to one another through weakness and victimization rather than through recognition of our true worth.

Absalom seemed to be just like that verse in Psalms, “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.”(B8) Sometimes we may see that as a person; sometimes it’s a disease; sometimes it’s a false system of thought. But one thing’s for sure: if it’s wicked – no matter how successful it appears to be – it’s working only to its own destruction. Falsehood always destroys itself.

“Evil is not supreme; good is not helpless; nor are the so-called laws of matter primary and the law of Spirit secondary.” (S&H 5) Absalom preyed on the sense of helplessness and victimization of the people of Israel. If we know that “good is not helpless,” we will never be fooled by the smooth-tongued insinuations that we’re helpless, but that someone else can be our salvation. Material personality is always a counterfeit. “A wicked man may have an attractive personality.” (S&H 8) Sadly, most of us have seen examples of this fact. However, we’ll never be fooled if we realize that “a wicked mortal is not the idea of God.” (S&H 8)

SECTION III – Evil’s claim to power is a counterfeit.
Absalom instructs his spies: “As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, “Absalom reigneth in Hebron.” (B10) When evil proudly proclaims its own power, do we believe it? Mrs. Eddy says, “Evil is self-assertive. It says, ‘I am a real entity, over-mastering good.'”(S&H 10) She continues, “The only power of evil is to destroy itself.” And that’s just what Absalom did. He was “joining in a conspiracy against himself.” (S&H 12) When Absalom went out to meet David’s armies in the wood of Ephraim, he rode upon a royal mule. As the mule went under the thick branches of a tree, Absalom’s hair caught up in the branches, and the mule went on,, leaving him helplessly hanging from the tree. There he was killed by Joab and his lieutenants. Ironically, his mule (the pride of power) and his hair (pride of physical appearance) proved to be instrumental in his undoing.

Evil is always “nothing claiming to be something.” (S&H 11) That’s why we often refer to it as a claim. Take a look at (S&H 11) to find some of the claims that evil makes. It’s interesting to consider each claim separately and realize that it’s “no thing, mind, nor power.” I used to wonder why the word “inanity” was included in the list, because it didn’t seem to be as aggressively harmful as the others. But I could see why it was evil (nothing) when I read this definition in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: “lacking sense or substance; empty.” It comes from a Latin root meaning empty or vain. Emptiness is a lie about the fullness, purpose, and intelligent activity of infinite Love. So it’s just as important to see the unreality of inanity as to see the nothingness of hate, theft, or murder. “The good you do and embody gives you the only power obtainable.” (S&H 14) Do you think of yourself as the embodiment of good?

SECTION IV – Destructive force is a counterfeit.
This is a wonderful section for us to study as we pray to see through the claims of hurricanes and tornadoes that have plagued us recently. (Remember the Golden Text? “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”) Among the promises in this section, God says, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.” We can rest in this promise, whether the rivers seem to be literal or whether they are floods of emotion and tears. And why aren’t we destroyed by these disasters? Because God promises, “I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”(B 13)

When Jesus was on a boat with his disciples and a storm arose, Jesus slept peacefully even as the disciples feared for their lives. Again the disciples asked the wrong question, a question based on their acceptance of unreality. They said, “Carest thou not that we perish?” (B 15) It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t care. He knew that their life was indestructible, and he knew that there was no power apart from God. So he wasn’t afraid. He could say with calm authority, “Peace, be still.” Can we calm the storms in our own thought? Yes. We are never helpless before the extremes of mortal mind.

It’s interesting to note that Mrs. Eddy lists “hurricane” as one of the expressions of “erring power.” She calls it “a blind miscalled force, the offspring of will and not of wisdom.” (S&H 15) So if we’d like to have fewer hurricanes, we might begin by seeing more wisdom and less will in our own consciousness. If a hurricane symbolizes “all that is selfish, wicked, dishonest, and impure,” we can begin to still the storms by casting these beliefs out of our own thought. By contrast, “Moral and spiritual might belong to Spirit, who holds the ‘wind in His fists;’ and this teaching accords with with Science and harmony.” He holds the wind in His fists! It is never outside of God’s control, no matter what name or speed or grade it is given. “There is divine authority for believing in the superiority of spiritual power over material resistance.” (S&H 19) Let’s exercise this divine authority, and replace discord of every kind with harmony.

SECTION V – Evil spirits are counterfeits.
When Jesus healed the man with the unclean spirit, he exercised the same authority that enabled him to still the storm. In fact, his command was very close to the earlier “Peace, be still.” He said, “Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” (B 16) And he came out! He didn’t have any other choice. Jesus refused to deal with the evil spirit on its own terms. He didn’t try to CONVINCE it to come out of the man. Paul caught this in his second letter to the Corinthians. J.B. Phillips expresses it this way in The New Testament in Modern English: “The truth is that, although we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. The very weapons we use are not human but powerful in God’s warfare for the destruction of the enemy’s strongholds. Our battle is to break down every deceptive argument and every imposing defence that men use men erect against the true knowledge of God. We fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ.”

Just as Absalom claimed to govern Israel and Judah, “mortal mind claims to govern every organ of the mortal body.” (S&H 21) But mortal mind has no more power to govern the body than Absalom had to govern his nation. “It would wield the sceptre of a monarch, but it is powerless.” Don’t let the claim of a mortal mind push you around! “Truth, not error, Love not hate, Spirit, not matter, governs man” – governs you and me and all. (S&H 24)

SECTION VI – Be not deceived, and be not afraid.
The great upheaval described by Jesus in (B18) may seem eerily familiar to us today. Many people are commenting on the apocalyptic nature of world events. Jesus has given us a promise and a rule. The promise is, “There shall not an hair of your head perish.” The rule is, “When these things shall begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads….” Why? “For your redemption draweth nigh.” We’re ready to give up the old false concept of man as matter and receive the new understanding that he is not material, but spiritual. “They that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.” (B 20) And “they” are not people, but beliefs.

At this time, we can (and must!) REFUSE to “stand aghast at nothingness.” (S&H 25) The only real “breaking up” is “the breaking up of material beliefs.” (S&H 27) It’s not the end of the world, but “the end of error.” And we have a solemn charge at this time ; “…Those who discern Christian Science will hold crime in check. They will aid in the ejection of error. They will maintain law and order, and cheerfully await the certainty of ultimate perfection.” (S&H 27) Cheerfully??? Yes, cheerfully – because ultimate perfection IS certain.

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 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.) 

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