Join us for your best summer yet!

CLICK HERE & then on Listen button to hear Kathy READ her Met.

Claim your oneness with God as Jesus did — and be saved from separation!
Metaphysical Lesson Application Ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Doctrine of Atonement”
April 10-16, 2023

 By Kathy Fitzer of Lake St. Louis, MO
kathyfitzer@gmail.com


INTRODUCTION, GOLDEN TEXT, AND RESPONSIVE READING

The doctrine (or teaching) of atonement has been theologically interpreted in various ways. But, as I understand it — from what I have read — it includes the ideas of redemption, and reconciliation with God.  When there appears to be a sense of division or separation from God — from Good —  atonement is the means by which man’s at-one-ment with God is again experienced.  It is often believed that something has to be done to earn this reconciliation and that Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross so that others could be saved. But, Mary Baker Eddy explains, in the Christian Science textbook, that “Atonement is the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love.”(Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 18:1–3).

So, our unity with God isn’t something that has to be earned, or even regained.  It is the reality of being, and can be realized as we shift our perspective.  And, as we understand the unity that all mankind has with God, the indivisibility of man — the unity we share with each other — will be realized.

To me, the Golden Text sums up the message of this week’s Bible Lesson: “God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:11, NLT)  In other words, the blessing, harmony, good, health, abundance, etc. that have their source in God are as integral and available to the experience of one individual or group as they are to another.  So, rather than being jealous or thinking that life isn’t fair, we can think “thank you, Father-Mother, because the good that is another’s is mine, too.”

The sun doesn’t give one ray more or less light and heat than another.  The sun simply shines through each ray because that is its nature.  Similarly, by its very nature, God expresses itself completely through each of its ideas.  God knows no judgment or favoritism.

Good doesn’t need to be earned — but rather, acknowledged and demonstrated.
How often are we tempted to bemoan a situation or a treatment as being “unfair”?
Mortal life may not always seem just, but shifting our perspective to see things as God sees them (and has made them) reveals the harmony that comes from being at-one with God, the divine Principle of good.

The Responsive Reading reiterates God’s impartial love for all mankind.   Paul reminds the Galatians that God doesn’t distinguish between people based on race, nationality, gender, social status, or anything else. To God, all are His children bound together in Christ, the divine idea that is inseparable from God. We can substitute for “Jew and Greek, … bond nor free … male nor female” whatever would try to be the dividing characteristics of our day.  And, there seem to be many!  Through a series of events, culminating in God introducing Peter to Cornelius, a Gentile, Peter discerns what Paul later communicated to the Romans … God doesn’t have favorites (“is no respecter of persons”. )

Jesus’ mission was to unite all mankind through the revelation of Christ (God’s divine message), and thus free people from mortal misconceptions (or sin).  There was resistance to believing that Gentiles were as capable of receiving God’s Word as were the Jews, but ultimately this resistance was broken down.

Surely, we can expect modern barriers that would try to separate us to also be broken down by the power and love of Christ — to reveal the at-one-ment of all mankind with God.


SECTION 1:  SPIRITUAL SENSE UNIFIES MAN BY REVEALING MAN’S UNITY WITH GOD

We are constantly faced with the choice of going along with the testimony of the physical senses — which often includes conflict and discord — or following Jesus’ example of acting “boldly against the accredited evidence of the senses …” (citation S1, 18:1).  Something putting itself out there as fact doesn’t make it true — doesn’t mean we have to accept it!

Historically, it was felt that Gentiles were not as “good” as Jews because, among other things, they had not been circumcised.  And, yet, the requirement for being established as “an holy people” of God, as stated here in Deuteronomy, was to “keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways” (cit. B2, Deuteronomy 28:9,10).  That requirement certainly isn’t dependent on bodily conditions or cultural and racial background.

In defense of the idea of all people having “access by one Spirit unto the Father,” Paul seems to be saying that Jesus broke down all barriers and saw everyone as simply God’s child (cit. B3, Ephesians 2:13-19).  At the time Paul was writing to the Ephesians there were still laws and traditions segregating Gentiles from Jews.  But, ultimately these would be broken down through Jesus’ message of God’s love for all and the demonstration of man’s unity with God through healing.

As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Jesus aided in reconciling man to God by giving man a truer sense of Love, the divine Principle of Jesus’ teachings, and this truer sense of Love redeems man from the law of matter, sin, and death by the law of Spirit, — the law of divine Love” (cit. S2, 19:6).  This truer sense of Love comes only as we stop judging according to outward appearances and preconceptions.  “… all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love” (cit. S4, 467:9-10).  So, the color of one’s skin or hair, gender identification, age, size, nationality, education, financial status, etc. etc. has nothing to do with how a person is perceived by Love — the Father and Mother of all.  And, there really is no other perception that matters!!  Understanding this can free us from the prejudices of others and can free our thought from holding prejudices about others — no matter how subtle.

Let’s pray constantly that spiritual sense reigns … and that the love of Christ that unites mankind through the inherent oneness we all have with God, will overcome all hate and injustice and division.  As we love the supremacy of God, the supremacy of Love can be seen and felt in our world.


SECTION 2: FOCUS ON PERSONALITY WOULD DRAW THOUGHT AWAY FROM GOD!

God doesn’t show favoritism — seeing all as the perfect expression of perfect Love.  But, mortal thought does tend to judge according to appearances. And pride in one’s looks or abilities  — or being impressed by the charismatic personality of another — can draw us away from recognizing God as the source of all good, and lead to division and separation.  Absalom was one of  King David’s sons.  He was good-looking and charming — but arrogant!  He set himself up as one whom the people could trust and, as II Samuel puts it, he “stole the hearts of the men of Israel”, undermining David’s authority (cit. B8, II Samuel 15:2-6).  Ultimately, however, his human popularity got him nowhere. He was especially proud of his beautiful hair.  Ironically, he was killed as a result of that hair becoming entangled in branches, pulling him off of the mule he was riding.

Mary Baker Eddy writes, “the atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner’s part” (cit. S9, 23:4-5).  We can think of self-immolation simply as the sacrifice of the belief of a selfhood apart from God — of a human sense of personality. I found this definition of sacrifice helpful: “an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy:”   And, so, we can ask ourselves, what personal distractions would keep us from turning to God for direction in everything we do?

As we lean completely on God for our good, we are blessed beyond anything we could achieve on our own. It could be that we believe we have to spend an inordinate amount of time and money to improve our appearance, or be less than perfectly honest in order to achieve a goal.  Or that we need to get on the good side of someone that we don’t totally agree with, but who seems to hold power.  The important thing is to remain alert and in all things “overcome the mortal belief in a power opposed to God” —opposed to the uprightness of Good (cit. S10, 569:3).

It seems we are living under lots of pressures — to be a good person, a good provider, a good wife or husband, son or daughter, mom or dad.  But, the only time that Mary Baker Eddy uses the word pressure in her writings is in this week’s lesson as citation S12.  There she tells us that the only pressure that  “Christian Scientists must live under (is) the constant pressure of the apostolic command to come out from the material world and be separate” (cit. S11, 451:2). Be separate from anything except the divine Principle, Love, which is Truth, and which we truly are one with.  Claim that oneness!


SECTION 3: HUMILITY AND REPENTANCE REQUIRED TO PERCEIVE OUR AT-ONE-MENT

Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Only those, who repent of sin and forsake the unreal, can fully understand the unreality of evil” (cit. S13, 339:11).  It has been my experience that sometimes we, as Christian Scientists, are so adamant about the unreality of sin (or evil) that we neglect to address our missteps and correct them. If we’re not careful, pride can sneak in.

We must repentthat is (according to both the Hebrew and Greek), we must change our mind, and look in a different direction. Although we gratefully understand that we (and our fellow man) are not inherently sinners,  we still need to confront sinful behavior.  We do sometimes “miss the mark” and think or act in a way that is not completely in line with God, Good. So, what do we do when that happens? We find the answer in Ezekiel.  As worded in the Amplified Bible, we are to “Repent (change your way of thinking) and turn away from all your transgressions, so that sin may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed [against Me], and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” (cit. B11, Ezekiel 18:30, 31 AMP)

While changing thought for a new heart and new spirit sound easy enough,  pride and personal sense often resort to defending wrong actions and thoughts. And regardless of our best intentions we tend to hold on to thoughts and behaviors that intellectually we know we want no part of.  So … are we just stuck? Or, are some people just hopeless sinners or inherently bad? Of course not. God loves each of Her children so much that there is always a way out — for everyone!

We read in 1st John that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (cit. B15, I John 2:1).  At the simplest level, an advocate is a helper (coming from the Greek word, parakletos) — or a comforter.  Christ is Truth.  Christ is light.  Truth eliminates mistakes or errors.  Light eliminates darkness.  Sin truly is simply “missing the mark” (or target goal) of being aligned with God’s perfect, spiritual creation. So, just as we may wander off a physical path in the dark, or be misled when presented with false information, we sometimes lose sight of God’s will for us and do or think things that aren’t in accord with divine Principle.  But, when the light points the way back, or the misconception is corrected, we are able to get on the right path again.  That is repentance.

Repentance requires the desire to do the right thing, and a willingness to respond to Love’s leading.  But, we’re not left out there on our own.  It doesn’t work to just keep repeating a wrong and saying we’re sorry.  A “practical repentance” is required that “reforms the heart and enables man to do the will of wisdom” (cit. S15, 19:17-24).  But, the point is that each of God’s children is totally loved, and as we “feel the aspiration, humility, gratitude, and love which our words express — this God accepts …” (cit. S17, 8:14-18, 28-30).  The light of the Christ and love of the Comforter will lift us, step-by-step out of the darkness of sin and set us on the path of holiness.  We just have to have a genuine desire to receive guidance and respond.


SECTION 4: GOD’S GRACE FREES ALL MANKIND FROM BONDAGE

A harsh overarching tone of law and discipline run through much of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament).  But, as we read in the gospel of John, “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (cit. B17, John 1:17). Jesus so fully expressed the fullness of God’s love that people were naturally healed just by being in his presence. The word grace includes the qualities of mercy, kindness, and unmerited favor. And, many are familiar with this definition of grace from Strong’s, “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude.”

In this section, we read of Jesus healing ten lepers as they called out to him, asking him to have mercy on them.  It’s interesting to note that although Jews and Samaritans generally did not have anything to do with each other, here the common ailment of leprosy drew them together.  And, it was only the Samaritan that graciously turned and expressed gratitude (cit. B19, Luke 17:11-16).

It was noted that in Elisha’s day, neither Jews nor Samaritans were healed of leprosy … only Naaman, a Syrian.  Jesus demonstrated the naturalness of all being healed by the Christ.  As this unity of God and man (exemplified by Christ) is more completely accepted and understood, God’s will of good will be more “universally done” (cit. S22, 202:3).

As Mary Baker Eddy explains, the master key that unlocks all good is realizing that “what we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds” (cit. S21, 4:3-5).  As we acknowledge the inseparable relationship of God and man, recognize God as the source of all good, and patiently (persistently) watch God work — as we meekly recognize God as the only power, as we love all that God is and does and do good as Jesus did — our eyes will be opened to see God’s perfect work here and now!  Healing is the revealing of God’s reality.


SECTION 5:  MAN’S ONENESS WITH GOD IS DEMONSTRATED IN HEALING

Jesus describes himself in this section as the “good shepherd”.  He goes on to say that he wasn’t sent to serve only the Jewish community, but others also — foreshadowing what would come. I loved Jesus’ explanation that as a shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep know their shepherd, so the Father knows His Son and His Son inherently knows his Father. Jesus knew that he could confidently give up his mortal sense of life because God’s love would forever preserve his spiritual life — his only true life! Jewish leaders couldn’t accept Jesus’ statement, “I and my Father are one.”  But, he escaped their attack and went on to minister to those with a more open thought.  It doesn’t matter how much mortal mind resists the Christ idea, the oneness of God and man provides protection and care for all those who are willing to respond to God’s love (cit. B22, John 10:14-18, 30, 31, 39, 40, 42).

Man’s oneness with God is forever intact.  It doesn’t need to be earned. But, it does need to be realized and accepted!  Narrow, rigid views — “the scholastic theology of the rabbis” … “hid from their sense Christ’s sonship with God” (cit. S23, 315:3-20).  We need to take an honest look at our own thought to be sure we haven’t fallen into the trap of  similar rigidity — or become so involved in a material (or political) view of personality, mortal beliefs, and convincing material testimony that we lose sight of the inherent oneness of God and man.

Mary Baker Eddy refers to Christ as “the ideal man”.  Jesus never lost sight of this ideal man.  He saw it as his own identity, and the identity of others.  Healing resulted from maintaining this view.  Out of love, Jesus sacrificed all sense of selfhood apart from God.  Through this sacrifice, he found freedom — for himself and for others.

Isn’t that what is required of us, as well?  The rewards are just as possible for us as they were for Jesus.  “Demonstration” (a.k.a. healing) is a practical expression of the truth of man’s oneness with God.  And, to achieve this sort of demonstration the “constant prayers” of “self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection” are required.  (cit. S25,15:26-4) The “world” would say that these are difficult qualities to consistently express. And that by being “good”, we miss out on things.  But truly, thought focused on material “law”, material pleasure, and material popularity is blinded to present good.

Living from the standpoint of being one with God — accepting and expressing our Christly nature as fully as we can — reveals God’s “infinite blessings”!  Faith in what Jesus taught is the first step.  But, we must also demand the next step of demonstration — doing as Jesus did (cit. S25,15:26-4).


SECTION 6:  THE UNITY OF CHRIST WITH GOD EXTENDS TO UNITY WITH EACH OTHER

After his conversion, Paul was determined to spread the good news of Jesus … the story of his life, crucifixion, and resurrection.  But not everyone “got it”.  Many Jews had trouble accepting the idea of a crucified Messiah because, to them, as one scholar says, “crucifixion expressed not the power and blessing of God but his curse.”  And the idea of looking up to someone as a savior who had died a slave’s-death on a cross seemed foolish to Greeks (or Gentiles).  But, there were some — a group made up of both Jews and Gentiles — who, as a Bible scholar describes, were able to see Christ Jesus “for who he really is … the power and wisdom of God for human salvation” (cit. B23, I Corinthians 1: 9,10, 23,24).  Believers were united in this understanding.

Part of the fourth tenet, or important points of Christian Science, says: “We acknowledge Jesus’ atonement as the evidence of divine efficacious Love, unfolding man’s unity with God through Christ Jesus the Way-shower; and we acknowledge that man is saved through Christ, through Truth, Life, and Love as demonstrated by the Galilean Prophet in healing the sick and overcoming sin and death” (cit. S26, 497:13).

The love that Jesus expressed throughout his life, as he embraced and healed everyone he met, and his willingness to be nailed to a cross to demonstrate that life is eternal, came directly from God.  It is the same Love that must ultimately draw all mankind together in one body … no longer divided.  Our willingness to follow Jesus’ example of love and complete devotion to God will quicken this unifying activity.

I’ve asked myself what are we being saved from if we don’t view ourselves as sinners? But, as we said earlier, although man is not a sinner, we do sometimes hold to mistaken views — “miss the mark” — and that leads to a belief of separation from God and His Goodness, and from each other.  To me, that sense of separation is the sin that Jesus’ life and sacrifice was meant to free us from.

Jesus was willing to sacrifice a mortal sense of life in order to demonstrate his (and our) indivisibility from God — from Life.  So, although we no longer need to fear a physical crucifixion, we can confidently face every trial (no matter how large or small it may seem) as Jesus faced the cross — with the knowledge that nothing can separate us from our Christly nature — our oneness with God!


SECTION 7: WE ARE ALL ONE!

The first verse of the Responsive Reading is repeated here.  The Amplified Bible translates the verse this way: “There is [now no distinction in regard to salvation] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you [who believe] are all one in Christ Jesus [no one can claim a spiritual superiority]” (cit. B26, Galatians 3:28, AMP).

We are all governed by the one Father-Mother God because we are all one with this Father-Mother, as Jesus knew he was one with his Father-Mother God.  So, any sense of superiority — which would suggest that one understands God better than another, or is closer to God, or a better person than another, or whose prayers are answered more consistently — must be let go of!!

I love the idea that “the Christ, as the spiritual idea, — the reflection of God, — has come with some measure of power and grace to all prepared to receive Christ, Truth” (cit. S29, 333:19-23).  Again, that sense of grace extends to all and is unearned favor.  Isn’t Love preparing all of us to receive Truth?

God has no favorites!!!  Just as no drop of water has more of the ocean in it than another and no ray of light has more shine of the sun than another, so no individual has more or less of God than another.  Every individual in the entire universe is one with God — with the Father — so all are good and healthy, satisfied and whole.  Let’s claim that oneness (for ourselves and for others) as Jesus did, and not be afraid of challenges. Jesus demonstrated that there is always a way out as we accept our at-one-ment with God!


Some of GEMs of BIBLE-BASED application ideas (from Cobbey Crisler & others) should be POSTED soon and others will be added to the string and EMAILED together later in the week.  You can always check  for current GEMs at CedarS INSPIRATION website, whether or not you’ve  SUBSCRIBED here for this free offering.


Also later in the week, look for Ken Cooper’s
“POETIC POSTLUDE”
contributions related to this Bible Lesson.


DEAR past & POTENTIAL, difference-making DONORS, CLICK HERE and Scroll down to hear  “What our Donors Say” about the reasons they support CedarS.  You’ll also be able to see a video of campers and staff sharing LOTS OF HEARTFELT GRATITUDE for all that you difference-making DONORS DO TO HELP US FEED & SHOE OUR HORSES, MAINTAIN & UPGRADE OUR FACILITIES, GIVE CAMPERSHIPS,
KEEP OUR OPERATIONS “GREEN”  & MORE!

Thanks to you and to God, CedarS had another best-summer and fall yet!  Your needed, ongoing support — whether it’s one-time, monthly, or forever (though an Endowment Matched gift), will help us continue to “love into view”  SUSTAINABLE, DIFFERENCE-MAKING BLESSINGS for hundreds of families and thousands of individuals, for generations to come, all across the U.S. and the world.

After hosting this Fall another wonderful Bible Study Workshop, a touching and joyous Celebration of Life Service, and a great Methodist Women’s Retreat, CEDARS IS SEEKING TO UPGRADE OUR NORTH STAR DINING ROOM TO BE A MISSION-WORTHY CONFERENCE CENTER TO SERVE other SUCH EVENTS. For more about supporting this upgrade, or about making a planned gift, a required IRA distribution or an endowment gift (that will all be MATCHED), feel free to call or text me (Warren Huff) anytime at 314-378-2574.


American Camp Association

MAIN OFFICE
(November - May)
410 Sovereign Court #8
Ballwin, MO 63011
(636) 394-6162

CAMP OFFICE
(Memorial Day Weekend - October)
19772 Sugar Dr.
Lebanon, MO 65536
(417) 532-6699

Support our mission!

CedarS Camps

Back
to top