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[Continue in Christ Jesus’ Word and Be Free]

Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on:
 

“Christ Jesus”

 

for February 25—March 3, 2013

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett)

craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683

 

If I ever find myself being undisciplined, and blurting out something like, “It looks like we’re stuck,” my wife immediately retorts, “We’re never stuck!”   The Golden Text promises that freedom from all bondage—from bad relationships, jobs, neighborhoods, financial binds, moral dilemmas, sin, disease—is made possible through “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”  This week’s Lesson shows us how the application of divine law, can turn that promise into reality.

 

In the Responsive Reading, we have the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda. He’d been struggling with a debilitating physical ailment for thirty-eight years. He certainly felt trapped.  No doubt, he felt that it was doubly unfair, because every time he thought healing was possible, someone else beat him to it.  He was full of excuses, and one has to wonder why he even bothered to stay there, since he had been unsuccessful for so long.

 

Sometimes we can feel that way—that no matter what we do, our healing just doesn’t come.  I’ve long considered this story as an allegory for those who are stuck in the five senses (porches) of material thinking waiting around for something to stir their thought (the water).  The lame man typifies the individual who wants someone else to do the work for him (put him into the pool).  Feeling like a victim, he blames others for his lack of effort and success.

 

As I read the story this time, I noticed that the word Bethesda means “house of mercy.”  Some commentators feel that the porches were built as a courtesy to the sufferers to shade them from the elements while they waited for the waters to move.  That information may indicate that those at the pool represent those who are looking for healing, but are drawn to the material methods due to the suggestion that they would find mercy in the senses—that they would be accommodated in their suffering.  They might enjoy the attention and the care they receive, but the porches (senses) do not provide the healing.  Only the moving of thought (the water) can heal.  That seeming comfort in matter can lull us into complacency, and eventually chain us to the point where we don’t even want to make the effort to change our thinking.  So Jesus commands that we stop looking for even the temporary comfort of mercy in matter, take up our beds, and go home—back to the reality of true health and happiness.

 

After this healing, Jesus finds the man in the temple, which is where he should have been—giving thanks to God.  But Jesus warns him not to let sin get hold of him and cause a relapse.  Here, we are warned not to forget our healing, or the change of thought that precipitated it.  This is related to the command to “continue” in Jesus’ word if we want to be free.  Theologian Albert Barnes writes, “When a man has been restored from the effects of sin, he should learn to avoid the very appearance of evil.  He should shun the place of temptation; he should not mingle again with his old companions; he should touch not, handle not.”  Serving sin, we become its slave.  Only as we “continue” in the Word will we find true freedom—intellectual, moral, spiritual, and physical.

 

Section 1: Christly Liberation Comes Directly from God

The first citation this week states that the healing power of the Christ is not a product of human reasoning. Just as we look for authenticity today, the disciples and early Christians were intent on establishing an authentic message. They felt that the light of Jesus’ healing truth was the same light that displaced the darkness in the dawn of creation (B1).  Again, Barnes explains— “They [the teachings of Jesus] had not been elaborated by human reasoning or science, nor had they been imparted by tradition. They had been communicated directly by the source of all light—the true God—who had shined into the hearts that were once benighted by sin.” 

Lest we think we’re not in that bad a shape, and that if we’re comparatively healthy and happy at the moment, that we don’t have much to “be free” from, take a moment to consider one more comment from Barnes.

“The [material] mind is by nature is ignorant and benighted…[This ignorance] is often greatly deepened by the course of life which people lead; by their education; or by their indulgence in sin, and by their plans of life; and especially by the indulgence of evil passions. The tendency of man if left to himself is to plunge into deeper darkness and to involve his mind more entirely in the obscurity of moral midnight.” 

Christians, by contrast, are illuminated by Christ and their powers of understanding are enriched and enhanced, thus changing their lives. They have clearer views. I think it’s safe to say that the world is quite, “in the obscurity of moral midnight.” We as Christians have the great gift of the light of Christ, and it behooves us to use this light to help ourselves, and others out of the darkness and bondage of all fear, sickness, and sin.

The prophet promises a new order, a deliverer who will bear the signet of divine authority (B2). For the government to “be upon his shoulder” doesn’t mean he carries the weight of it like Atlas, but it refers to the insignia of rank worn on the shoulder similar to our military uniforms today.  However, the divine kingdom isn’t a product of military might. It reflects divine justice. This new kingdom is divine and eternal—it has no end—and has been established not with blood, but by divine purpose and judgment.

Isaiah’s description of the heavenly servant (B3) has some specific points to consider. These spiritual attributes exhibit the type of mercy that the senses offer, but can’t deliver. First, the “bruised reed” symbolizes that those who feel crushed by trials need not hesitate to seek refuge in Christ.  Martin Luther wrote, “He does not cast away, nor crush, nor condemn the wounded in conscience, those who are terrified in view of their sins; the weak in faith and practice, but watches over and cherishes them, makes them whole, and affectionately embraces them.”  Second, the “smoking flax” symbolizes a wick ready to go out—the condition of one so disheartened and feeble, he is about to expire.  But the Christ revives him.  Third, his “judgment and truth” are equally available to all nations, and no matter how dim the outlook, he is never discouraged. He will maintain his mission until the whole earth has seen his judgment.  Just so, we have the obligation to maintain our mission until freedom for the whole world has been achieved.

Christ is always the same.  Since we can depend on Christ throughout all time and circumstance, changing our life to fit Christ’s mold is a most reliable enterprise. (B4). Finally, the prophecy of Jesus is not fable.  It is more solid and sure than anything else (B5).  We do well to take heed of this strong proof. Peter’s testimony was bolstered by what he, James, and John saw at the transfiguration.  Our testimony is bolstered by the multitude of healings we’ve had, and witnessed.  We navigate in the dark with lamps and flashlights until the daytime.  The prophecy of truth is as a light shining in the darkness, until the day dawns—until the full realization of freedom comes.

Our biblical exposition of this section is fairly comprehensive.  Mrs. Eddy begins her textbook with the promise, “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”  As Peter describes the Christ in terms of light shining in darkness, she evokes images of the shepherds beholding the light heralding Jesus’ birth (S1).  Jesus shows the way to everyone (S2).  Mrs. Eddy acknowledges that the Christ idea is of no human fabrication, but is a direct product of God, Jesus being the highest type of divinity we could understand (S3).  He gave us the true sense of Love (S4).  The section ends with the simple fact, that “Love is the liberator” (S5).  The rest of the Lesson explores specifically, some areas most calling for liberation today.

Section 2: Christ Frees Us from “Natural” Disasters

As mentioned in previous CedarS Mets, these verses from Matthew 4:23,24 that we often consider no more than introductions to a story in the Lesson, carry quite a bit more significance than we usually give them.  They indicate that no chronic, temporary or acute disorder, mental illness, or any conceivable type of malady is beyond the healing touch of the Christ.  News of the healing power of the Christ preceded Jesus wherever he went.  His work backed up his words, and the possibility of freedom from every ill is certainly good news today, as it was then.  But Jesus didn’t stop with loosening the bands of physical and mental infirmities.  He overcame every material law and limitation, thus leading the way to true liberty.  According to A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, the crowds following Jesus had become so excited that they were getting ready to start a revolution against Rome.  He writes that the disciples “were in grave danger of being swept off their feet and falling heedlessly into the Pharisaic conception and so defeating the whole teaching and training of Jesus with them.”  To avoid this, Jesus sent his disciples away by ship.  Out of the storm of human emotion, they found themselves in a literal storm during their voyage.

But storms of any kind could not overrule the power of Christ.  Robertson points out that the Greek original of this account indicates that the disciples were in real distress—rowing as if on a slave ship, nearing the limits of their endurance, and not getting anywhere for their effort.  Then along comes Jesus walking on the waves.  This more than surprised them.  Again, Robertson tells us that the Greek means that they literally screamed, shrieking in terror.  But Jesus tells them to “Be of good cheer, it is I.”  Needless to say they were astounded, relieved, and the storm ceased.

We can read this story as allegorically representing turbulent times in our experience and many theologians have over the years.  But, in Christian Science, we have no difficulty assuming that this story can be read literally (S6).  For we see that truly every law of matter—every conceivable limiting factor of physics—can be overruled by the liberating power of the Christ.  We aren’t bound by so-called laws of nature or physics, any more than we are bound to material laws of health.  The Truth liberates us from every limitation (S7).  Divine Science reveals that the limiting laws of natural science are nothing but false laws of so-called mortal mind (S8).  We are bound only by our own fears, and limited viewpoints.  We aren’t inhabitants of material bodies in a material universe, governed by material laws.  No!—that entire picture is no more than a construct of mortal belief, and Christ, Truth, frees us from these fetters.  As our Leader points out, Jesus put aside material laws “from first to last” (S9).  As I’m writing this, there is talk of an asteroid coming closer to earth than ever before in recent times.  It’s expected to barely miss us in astronomical terms, and if you are reading this, it has.  But, as fascinating as the world of physics is, we are not chained to the outcomes that seem inevitable.  It seems the more we know about laws of physics, the more danger we find around every corner.  We are not at the mercy of so-called natural phenomena whether it be volcanoes, asteroids, or shifting of magnetic poles.  The forces that govern us belong to divine Principle (S10).  As Christian Scientists, we can’t take these threats lightly.  We need to assert our dominion as Jesus did.  Praying to overcome threats of natural disasters, are probably not very high on our list of things to pray about, but Jesus and Mrs. Eddy took these things seriously.  Let’s do our part and shine that saving light for the whole world.

Section 3: The Christ Frees Us from Limitation and Lack

How would you say you go through life?  Do you delight in it?  I know there are plenty of times in which I am more inclined to feel more trepidation than delight.  Yet the Psalmist intimates that if we are embracing God’s law in our hearts and endeavoring to do His will, we will indeed be filled with delight (B9).  Thankfully, I have found that when I am embracing God’s law in my heart, and living it to the best of my ability, delight is very much an apt description of my outlook.  We might also ask whether we go through life with a sense of largess, or a sense of limitation.  It seems like when contemplating a course of action, the first questions that come to mind are, “Can we afford it?” or “Do we have enough?”  We tend to think in a limited way and are always looking for restrictions.  The psalmist again takes a different view — “I will walk at liberty” (B10).  Barnes says the Hebrew word for liberty means “wide, broad, large, spacious.”  He says the reference implies no limits, checks, or restraints, either from outward circumstances or from evil passions and desires.  Wouldn’t it be great to move through life in complete freedom?

These days, the news is filled with concern over the economy of nations and the world.  There seems to be a growing disparity between those who seem to have and those who seem not to.  The story of the feeding of the five thousand (B11) has lessons for those on each side of the equation.  Throughout the centuries commentators have gone back and forth as to what actually happened — did Jesus literally multiply the loaves and fishes?  Or, did he simply set an example of magnanimity after which, everyone in the crowd shared with each other?  Both views have something to teach us.  Jesus’ ability to walk on water equally supports the possibility that also actually did multiply the loaves and fishes.  Mrs. Eddy certainly viewed it that way, and we’ll look at her view shortly.  But even if it was only Jesus’ willingness to share that sparked others in the crowd to do the same, it shows that no matter how little we think we might have, our fearless, selfless willingness to give to others has a healing effect, and we can never lose by being magnanimous.  In a previous edition of CedarS Lesson Application Ideas (see “Don’t Be Fooled by the Darkness” Monday, March 26th, 2012) I explained the concept of “largess” as typified in Shakespeare’s Henry V.  That attitude of abundant giving has a powerfully healing effect.  It overcomes fear, and brings a comfort that washes away doubt and anxiety.  And those who give freely are always blessed.  It’s also noteworthy that even though Jesus had access to infinite supply, he didn’t waste anything.  He collected the fragments for future use.  Even so, we should not squander our bounty, but display our gratitude by distributing it appropriately.

As we’ve said, Mrs. Eddy saw the multiplying of the loaves and fishes as a natural demonstration of divine power (S11).  Miracles to her, weren’t unnatural, but evidence that established “the Science of God’s unchangeable law” (S12).  Jesus didn’t ever accept the material picture at face value.  Limited material thinking and laws deny the ability of Spirit to meet every need.  But as we “gain more correct views of God and man, multitudinous objects of creation, which before were invisible, will become visible” (B15).  This is a fascinating idea.  It doesn’t mean that we can spend, or use supplies with reckless abandon, expecting that somehow, the source will magically continue to flow; but it means that if we understand the spiritual source, and see things as idea rather than object, things that before were unseen will be realized.  And as in the calming of the storm, everyone on the sea was protected, so in times of apparent need, when one understands the source of supply to be Spirit, everyone else is blessed as well (S16).

Section 4: Christ Frees Us from Chains of Sickness

The world seems to be bound not only by laws of nature and limitation, but also by laws of health, the general belief being that we are humans with a fairly predictable vulnerability to disease and illness.  The Scriptures promise comfort and freedom from all oppression (B12, B13). Barnes writes, “The idea is, that they [the spiritual messages of comfort] were to dissolve every tie which unjustly bound their fellow men.”  Suffering from sickness or disease, certainly feels unjust to the one facing such challenges.  As a result, people tend to wonder why they’re suffering, and search for some explanation or justifiable cause, such as payback for some sin or incorrect thinking.  Often, people are at a loss to explain why they’re sick.  Some might judge the belief that sickness is the result of some moral wrong, to be no more than a remnant of traditional religious superstition, and not very kind.  Here, the medical field offers their version of mercy, ensuring the patient that it’s not their fault, and that illness is just a bland fact of life that we cannot avoid.  Jesus neither looked for a cause of disease, nor accepted it as an unavoidable fact.  He saw it as an “unjust sentence” calling for emancipation.  In an effort to entrap him in a doctrinal breach, Jesus’ detractors asked whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath (B14).  He responded that if it’s permitted to save a sheep that’d fallen into a pit on the Sabbath, why shouldn’t a man be saved from sickness?  Then he healed the man on the spot.

Jesus didn’t abide oppression in any form — not from material laws of health, nor from doctrinal limitations (S17).  Mrs. Eddy simply states, “God made man free” (S18).  Wow! Do we exercise that freedom?  Or do we just let health laws and theories dictate our lives and prospects?  Our Leader tells us that God’s law nullifies every material law, and our ignorance of this is the reason we go along with the lie.  Do we oppose the onset of sickness?  We should.  The textbook says we should oppose it to the same degree we oppose sin (S19).  We often lament that it seems harder to heal nowadays than it used to.  Perhaps, we should examine to what degree we are opposing sin.  If we are lax in resisting sin, why should we be surprised that we sometimes find it difficult to oppose sickness?  The point is that sin doesn’t happen by itself.  We have to consent to it, and Mrs. Eddy is implying that we are under no obligation to acquiesce to sickness any more than to sin.  Rather, we should boldly resist evil in all its forms.

Material law is astonishingly arrogant.  It lays out courses for disease, and we imagine we’re bound to follow them.  But we aren’t.  Jesus proved the falsehood of so-called material, medical authority and so should we (S20).  Mary Baker Eddy counsels us to consider disease as an outlaw and banish it completely (S21).  Disease has no intelligence, and it can’t outsmart anybody, much less think on its own.  Disease may claim to be supported by material laws of health, but Jesus overruled all so-called laws.  Let’s claim our freedom and refuse obedience to anything other than the law of Spirit (S22).

Section 5: The Christ Liberates Us from Death

Paul says, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (B15).  Barnes says this “law” means “rule, command, or influence.”  How much of our lives are influenced by the “law of sin and death?”  Are we availing ourselves of our Christly freedom?  When we’ve broken free from the law of sin, we’re also free of all guilt, and we have the courage and authority to oppose the law of death.  Jesus, being free from sin himself, boldly confronted and opposed all evidence of death.  In the story of the funeral procession at Nain (B16), not only did he disregard the belief that man must die, and that death is final, he also disregarded all doctrinal taboos by touching the bier which the Jews considered as unclean.  Since the young man was the only son of his widowed mother, she was surrounded by all the townspeople — who were no doubt, heavily influenced by the apparent hopelessness of her situation.  With her only means of support gone, she was facing destitution.  Jesus overcame every apparent obstacle and brought a complete reversal to the situation, restoring the son to life, and restoring hope for the widow as well.

Science and Health confirms that Jesus’ triumph over death displayed utter disregard for all material law (S23).  The “law” of sin and death — the “rule, command, and influence” that binds mortals is the product of universal consent (S24, 229:15). It is only a customary belief, mistakenly accepted.  The law of immortal Mind manifested through Christ voids all such spurious beliefs.  Divine Love is able to deliver the captives of sin, sickness, and death (S25).  Again, mortals have concocted laws and believed them. Then they either attribute those falsehoods to God, or completely leave God out of it and declare that matter constitutes its own laws.  But the understanding of Christian Science, brought to light through the life of Christ Jesus, destroys every material law and frees us from them (S26).  If we fully “perceive the true idea of Life” we will lose our belief in death (S27).  We can believe this and practice it.  Even if faced with life threatening situations, we can apply our understanding of “the undying realities of Spirit” knowing that God is our life, and that we are under no obligation at all to go along with the mortal scenario.

Section 6: We Must Continue in the Word to be Free

Jesus found the restored man from the pool in the temple and cautioned him not to return to his old ways; and as Jesus promised that continuance in his word is the key to our freedom, James promises that if we attentively observe the law of liberty, and continue in what we see there, maintaining steady obedience thereto, we will be blessed (B17).  Now remember that this doesn’t mean a casual glance when it suits us, but consecrated, focused attention, as one who really takes the time to stoop down and closely examine something. It should absorb us completely. We have indeed received “exceeding great and precious promises.” It’s no light thing that we have received Jesus’ example, and that our privilege is to embrace and reflect the divine nature. This nature enables us to escape worldly corruption, and walk in the full freedom of spiritual reality.  But we do have work to do.  We must be diligent, adding one grace upon another, being courageous, wise, able to restrain worldly desires, patient, having a continual sense of God’s presence, and living accordingly — being actively helpful to others — always in a tender mood. These qualities of thought will bear fruit (B18).  Then we can “stand fast in the liberty” that Christ has given us, forever free from the bondage of all material law (B19).

It may seem like the remarkable demonstrations Jesus performed belong to a time long past, but rest assured, the divine Principle is as present today as it was centuries ago.  The healing of sickness, sin, and death, as well as the healing of worldwide problems of environmental challenges, and lack, are all possible right now.  Healing is as natural as light chasing away the darkness (S28).  Christian Science is the very same Principle Jesus taught and practiced, and he promised that healing signs would “follow them that believe” in all time to come (S29).  We know that Jesus marked out the way, and that his teaching is true, by virtue of the fact that when applied properly, we have the same results.  Jesus’ promise of freedom is “perpetual.”  That means, “never ceasing; continuing forever, destined to be eternal… continuing without intermission; uninterrupted… permanent; fixed… everlasting”  To “continue” means virtually the same thing — ”To remain… or abide indefinitely; to last; to persevere; not to cease…” (Student’s Reference Dictionary).  You and I can be free, the world can be free, and Christ Jesus has shown us the path to that freedom.  But it’s up to us to continue in that path.  Our liberty is dependent upon our acceptance of our divine commission.  The call to you and me, and the whole world remains to “accept the ‘glorious liberty of the children of God, and be free!” (S30).  Do you accept?


The application ideas above are from a Christian Science Practitioner who has served as a Resident Practitioner at CedarS Camps. They are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of study and application of the Christian Science Bible lessons throughout the year, not just at camp!  YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of possible ways to share Bible Lesson applications with older, as well as younger, Sunday School classes by clicking the "Subscribe Now" button (lower left) at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/

Warren Huff, CedarS Director & editor of these notes & its bracketed, italic additions.]

[While our herd still needs your "adoptive" support to be fully fed, trained and ready for camp, our focus now goes to filling camp with worthy campers!  Our main funding goals for early 2013 are raising funds for campership applicants and for operations support.  If you'd rather not give online or over the phone, thank you for mailing your checks to:

CedarS Camps Office,
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Or for calling us at
636-394-6162 to give a monthly pledge or a single, credit or debit card gift.]

[Additional Director's Note: You can sign up to have these application ideas emailed to you free — by Monday each week in English; or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION: in German, thanks to Helga and Manfred; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio.  A voluntary French translation by Pascal or Denise cannot be guaranteed due to their busy schedules. An "official" version of the weekly Portuguese translation is now available for CedarS Mets, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil.  Go to http://www.cedarscamps.org/ and click "Newsletters" to sign-up for the Portuguese version.  This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 12-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  (Ask and look for "Possible Sunday School Topics "and "Possible Younger Class Lessons" in subsequent emails.) These weekly offerings are intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and 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, application and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "mets "and Sunday School ideas are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension and background as well as new angles (and angels) on the daily applicability of some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e.B-1 and S-28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "Met" (Metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the Bible (B-1 thru B-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-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 the 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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