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Demonstrate your at-one-ment with God.
Application ideas for the Weekly Bible Lesson on the subject:  Doctrine of Atonement
October 11-17, 2004              Shared by:  Kathy Fitzer, CS of St. Louis, MO 

This week’s lesson is action oriented.  It demands sacrifice and love.  It promises freedom.  Starting from the basis of sinless man, follow the path Jesus mapped out.

Golden Text:  Surrendering to God’s Goodness
The Golden Text (which sets the tone for the lesson) is a plea to God to hear the prayer of desire to yield to His will.  One translation of verse 6 reads:  “I’m ready now to worship, so ready.  I thank you, God – you’re so good.” (The Message)  One of the original meanings of the Hebrew word translated “sacrifice” in this verse was “offer.”  A modern synonym is “surrender.”  Don’t we offer ourselves to God by surrendering our human desires, pre-conceptions, and outlines to the will of God?  And don’t we recognize our sinless nature by magnifying (enlarging in thought) the goodness of God’s nature, or name?

Responsive Reading:  Only by the grace of God – exemplified by Jesus Christ – are  things set right – Action is required
In the Responsive Reading, look for what sacrifices are required of us – what action is demanded.  We may think that we have progressed past the traditional Hebrew form of sacrifice – have we really?  Do we ever fall into the trap of thinking we are doing all we need to do if we just read or listen to the lesson, say a prayer or two during the day and go to church once or twice a week?  Is that really what it is all about?  Long-standing habits and traditional ways of thinking are sometimes hard to change.  But that is what is required if we are to truly find our at-one-ment with God.  In these verses from Hebrews, the author is turning the reader’s thinking away from the traditional sense of material sacrifice to God (a one-shot deal) to the demand to establish the heart with grace (God’s favor and spiritual blessing) rather than meat (rules of diet and ritualism). Jesus practiced what he taught and suffered publicly (i.e. “without the gate”) so that all could learn what it means to follow his example and recognize our sonship with God.  God perfects our nature in order that we may manifest His works as Jesus did.

Section I:  Definition of Atonement – The daily demand for demonstration
God leads us gently.  The law is established and enforced from the outside before it can be incorporated into the heart.  Moses taught God’s law and helped people be obedient to it through outward worship.  Jesus showed us how to live through the grace of God on a daily, moment-by-moment basis. (B#5)  Check out the definition of atonement in marker 1 and 5 of S&H (p. 18 & 21). In order to benefit from the example of Jesus and demonstrate our oneness with God requires dedication of thought.  We must strive to understand God – not just acknowledge His presence.  In this section, look for the commands.  Look for those things which follow such words as: offer, be, demands, willing to, strive to, etc.  Also look for the qualities we are to express, and the consistency with which we are to express them. Why bother with all of this that seems like so much work?  Because as we express our Christly nature, limitations fall away.  Isn’t that what Jesus showed us? And as we read in I Timothy, “in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”  (B#4)  

Section II:  Practical repentance.
Jesus instructed his followers to repent. (B#6) The Greek word translated here as repent means simply “to change one’s mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.”  Abhorrence = disgust, loathing.  There is no room here for the self-justification, self-will, and self-love that mortal mind loves to exhibit.  The Pharisee just didn’t get it – he prided himself in all of the outward things he did right.  But where was his heart?  Wasn’t he still judging and condemning? (B#7) Hmmm… any Pharisaical thinking in us?  Any temptation to think such things as: I read the lesson, I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs or have sex, I go to church – I’m a really good person, unlike some other people I know. But do you know why you do these things?  For outward appearance or out of habit? Or because you love doing good because you love God?  And do you really love God if you aren’t loving your neighbor as yourself – seeing the purity in each one?  We shouldn’t dwell on the past – either on something we did that wasn’t the best, or something we didn’t do that we should have.  Rather, with the publican and the Psalmist, we should pray for God’s mercy (God’s reconciliation) – that we may renew our right relation with Him. (B#7&8). And we need to be alert to how we can improve.  Do we listen to criticism to see how it applies? (S&H #7) If we humbly go to God, He will show us what corrective action is necessary. Continue in this section to look for what is required of us in order to let go of any false sense of identity which would hide God’s presence from us.

Section III:  Our debt to divine Love  — Just love!
What quality of thought did Jesus indicate is most needed in order for one to be reconciled to God?  Notice the contrast in this section of the Pharisee’s response to Jesus and the woman’s. (Luke 7) The woman’s sins were forgiven because of the love she showered on Christ Jesus, and the apparent remorse she felt.  She didn’t love because she was forgiven; she was forgiven because she loved.  Whereas Simon treated Jesus coldly – as a casual guest, or even a social inferior – the woman recognized and embraced the Christ and responded with love.  Here’s a question we may need to ask ourselves … do we ever take the Christ and Christian Science for granted, or doubt either its efficacy or our ability to embrace it?  Or, do we truly love it and acknowledge it’s greatness by cherishing it in our hearts – regardless of the outward appearance of things. The last citation in Science and Health delineates the necessary steps to putting off mortality in order to discover our at-one-ment with God: repentance (sorrow for wrong), spiritual baptism (receiving the spirit of the Christ) and regeneration (a fresh start – a new birth by the grace of God.)  As we actively embrace the Christ, we will naturally love, and we will feel our at-one-ment with God, Love!

Section IV:  Hold yourself superior to sin, sickness, and death.
Jesus came to teach us that we are not sinners, nor are we subject to sickness or death.  Despite popular teaching and appearances, Jesus directed our attention to his (and our) perfect Father, rather than personal doctrine (B 14) He took away the belief of sin by demonstrating the powerlessness of sickness and death.  The first epistle of St. John assures us of our freedom from sin (B 16 – I John 3: 9).  This verse has been translated by modern translators (see The Word, The Bible from 26 Translations ) as “Whoever is a child of God cannot go on sinning because the very nature of God dwells within him, and he cannot practice sinning, because he is a child of God.”  This is an absolute statement.  It requires much devotion of thought to demonstrate its verity as Jesus did.  Mrs. Eddy tells us that although “imperfect mortals grasp the ultimate of spiritual perfection slowly,” that as we are patient and actively seek Truth, He directs our path.  She continues that:  “to begin aright and to continue the strife of demonstrating the great problem of being is doing much.”  (S&H 17, p. 254)  So, we must be alert to start with God and to actively fight for our rights as a free child of God.  Watch every thought, and at the end of the day be grateful for the times you were alert, and acknowledge the blessings!  God already knows us, and has made us free.  The Christ enables us to get to know God. (S&H #16, p. 18) As we apprehend (take hold of) God, we see that sin, sickness, and death are no part of God. We recognize our superiority over them.  Our fear then disappears and we are free. (S&H #18)  

Section V:  Acknowledge Jesus’ atonement – accept the victory – refuse to waver
Early worshippers sacrificed the blood of animals in hopes that God would forgive their sins.  Jesus sacrificed his own blood – not to purge himself of sin, but to purge our sins.  Did just the act of Jesus being crucified save us from our sins? Or is something required of us?  Jesus apparently suffered, but he also rose and was completely victorious over mortality.  The fourth tenet of Christian Science makes clear Jesus intent.  Jesus’ atonement was “evidence of divine, efficacious (producing effects) Love, unfolding man’s unity with God.”  Jesus did what he did to show us that God and man are one.  (S&H #22, p. 497) In the epistles to the Corinthians and the Hebrews, Paul describes what Jesus did for us, but also specifies what is expected of us.  We can find at least 8 things listed in the Bible citations in this section describing how we should think or act.  Shouldn’t we follow the directives as evidence of our love for God and the Christ?  Mrs. Eddy specifies that “one’s consecration to Christ is more on the ground of demonstration than of profession.”  (S&H #21, p. 28)  We are being called to act!  God has empowered us with his Christ.  If we will work to understand a little more each day of the “divine Principle and of the deathless Christ” surely we will find that “we are enabled to heal the sick and to triumph over sin.” (S&H #21)  Jesus showed us the way – we must follow!  

Section VI:  The commandment:  heal!
This section reveals specific demands and the promise of what is ours as we are obedient.  It is summed up in Science and Health, citation #26, p. 25.  It tells us what Jesus did, why he did it, and directs, “We must go and do likewise, else we are not improving the great blessings which our Master worked and suffered to bestow upon us.”  We’re told that implicit faith (trusting to the word or authority of another without examining into the truth of the thing itself) and emotional love of Jesus (implies passiveness and of short duration) aren’t enough.  Discover in this section what is expected of each of us and accept the challenge.  Then expect to receive the promise. This is the fulfillment of the definition of atonement given in the first section (S&H p. 18).  As Hymn 82 concludes, “Fight we the fight with sorrow and sin to set their captives free, that the earth may be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.”

(Camp Director’s Note: As the latest in a long series of CedarS weekly lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed by many CedarS 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. Sent originally just to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue their inspiration from camp, CedarS lesson “mets” are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive. The thoughts presented are offered to give a bit of 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 applications.  We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey.)

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