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Discover what is required to realize, and demonstrate, our at-one-ment with God!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

 Doctrine of Atonement”
for October 17, 2021

by Kathy Fitzer of Lake Saint Louis, MO
kathyfitzer@gmail.com


INTRODUCTION:
Once again, we have the opportunity to explore what the Science of Christ teaches us regarding our at-one-ment with God — how to feel it and how to experience more of the blessings that come from understanding that inseparable relationship that exists between God and man.

I found it helpful to take a look at the definition of atonement given in dictionary.com.  It reads:

  1. satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.
  2. Theology. the doctrine concerning the reconciliation of God and humankind, especially as accomplished through the life, suffering, and death of Christ.
  3. Christian Science. the experience of humankind’s unity with God exemplified by Jesus Christ.
  4. Archaic. reconciliation; agreement.

Section 1 gives the definition of atonement from Science and Health as “the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love” (citation S1/18:1-3).

I love the idea that atonement is experiencing or exemplifying our unity with God, showing unity to be the natural state of man. Jesus was the purist exemplification of this unity.  To me, what makes the teachings of Christian Science on this subject so wonderfully unique is that they start with the completeness and unity that forever exists between God and man.

This Lesson holds a treasure-trove of ideas concerning how to demonstrate this oneness. There is a lot in the Lesson about the purity of God’s commands, reflected in the purity of our lives, and the good that comes to us as we trust God and walk as directed by Love. Ways to study the Lesson will certainly be revealed to each one of you.  An idea is to look for the requirements mentioned, and try each day to better align thought with at least one of those requirements.


GOLDEN TEXT AND RESPONSIVE READING:
I loved considering a couple of translations of the GOLDEN TEXT from Proverbs 30:5:
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (NIV)

“Every word of God can be trusted. He protects those who come to him for safety.” (ICB)

So, first requirement … In order to feel our oneness with God, we need to trust Him.  And we can trust Him because what He communicates and commands is flawless, refined like silver.

The RESPONSIVE READING builds on the idea of trust, and adds the new element of “walking” in truth and integrity.  Basically, as we go through our day, we can ask ourselves how conscientious we are being about looking to God for guidance, and how closely we are following his “path” — His direction for how we are thinking and acting.  The last line says to me … “rather than just reacting, going along with general thought, or mindlessly responding to circumstances, carefully consider what you’re doing and thinking, and let everything you do be established by God.  If we are reaching out for God’s direction, rather than being satisfied with our own understanding of things, we will find ourselves on sure footing — not stumbling along or being pulled into the currents and waves of mortal thought.


SECTION 1 — TO SEE GOD, EMBRACE YOUR CHILDLIKE PURITY.
Here, the requirements of purity and innocence are further developed.  Jesus was very specific in his requirement for entering the Kingdom of Heaven.  He said that, “unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (citation B5/Matt. 18:3 Amplified Bible).

Hymn 291 from the Christian Science Hymnal offers a beautiful prayer along these lines: “Quiet, Lord, my froward heart, / Make me gentle, pure, and mild, / Upright, simple, free from art; / Make me as a little child, / From distrust and envy free, / Pleased with all that pleaseth Thee. / What Thou shalt today provide / Let me as a child receive, / What tomorrow may betide / Calmly to Thy wisdom leave; / ‘Tis enough that Thou wilt care, / Why should I the burden bear? / As a little child relies / On a care beyond its own, / Being neither strong nor wise, / Will not take a step alone, / Let me thus with Thee abide, / As my Father, Friend, and Guide.”

This section gives requirements for seeing God’s blessings, such as having pure hands and hearts, not worshipping idols and never telling lies (cit. B1/Psalm 24:3-5, NLT). But, it also brings out what God’s law is doing.  This law is pure and perfect.  It converts the soul, makes us wise, uplifts us, and opens our eyes so that we can recognize God’s presence. (cit. B3/Psalm 19:7, 8).  As we are willing to turn in a new direction — “leave the old for the new” — we are able to see and comprehend all that God is, and is doing.  So, to see God (see all of the good that God is providing for His creation), we first turn in the right direction and then make sure the windows of our thought are clear of dust and grime.  It’s not unlike getting a clear view of anything we’re looking at.  Turn in the right direction and clean the windows or glasses.  Then the view that was always there, can be seen with crystal clarity!


SECTION 2 — PRACTICAL REPENTANCE MEANS TURNING FROM SIN TO FIND LIGHT.
Sin is the belief of being separated from God.  It is thinking or doing things that aren’t in accord with God’s goodness.  Although Jesus demonstrated, and Christian Science teaches, that it is impossible to truly be separated from God, we all sometimes mess up, and our thoughts and/or actions stray from where they should be.  That is sin.  It is simply missing the mark—which is the Greek definition of sin.  So, although we reject the label of being sinners — as is accepted by some religious thought — we can’t ignorantly go through our days oblivious to those things that need to be corrected.

It’s a lot easier to see the faults in another than to recognize — and correct — our own limitations.  Jesus was so wise in how he responded to the scribes and Pharisees when they brought him the adulterous woman to judge.  He didn’t condone her actions, but neither did he endorse stone-throwing by those who had made mistakes of their own. He required something of the woman.  It was important that she repent and change her ways (sin no more). And he also helped the accusers recognize things they needed to correct (cit. B7/John 8:1-12).

Jesus could just as well have been talking to us today.  How easy it is to see what others are doing wrong and expect them either to change or to be punished.  Our world would be a lot better off if we focused more on our own thoughts and actions!  I’ve had several experiences lately when I recognized I was not thinking about a person or a situation in the way I wanted to be.  I was feeling resentful or judgmental. I didn’t like how I was feeling, but felt incapable of changing.  In each case, I prayed similarly to the Psalmist’ prayer in this section: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (cit. 8/Psalm 139: 23,24 NLT). It took vigilance on my part, and there was sometimes some backsliding, but I did see a change in thought and was able to stay in the light of right thinking, rather than the darkness of sinful thought.

Sin is just “missing the mark.”  We don’t have to beat ourselves up for it. But we do need to repent (regret the wrongdoing) and reform (make changes for the better) in order to experience atonement — or at-one-ment with God/Good (cit. S7/19:17-24).  We’re told “the atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner’s part” (cit. S10/23:4-5). Although the modern meaning of self-immolation is literally setting fire to oneself, Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines immolation simply as sacrificing.  So, the requirement is to sacrifice — or give up— the belief of a selfhood (thoughts and actions) separate from God, in order to act in accord with the law of divine Love.  It’s not always easy, but such sacrifice leads us out of darkness into the light of Truth!


SECTION 3 — WE MUST FOLLOW JESUS’ EXAMPLE — HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST.
Jesus was able to heal every type of difficulty known to man.  What many do not understand is that this ability to heal was not a gift specific to Jesus, but was an expression of God’s law of harmony and resulted from Jesus’ understanding of his oneness with God.  The Bible says that Jesus “gave” his disciples “power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases.”  And they responded by going from town to town preaching and healing (cit. B13/Luke 9:1,2,6).  This power is available to everyone who accepts that God’s “commandment is life everlasting” (cit. B12/John 12:49, 50). Sometimes we think of a commandment as something we need to do.  In this case, it is what God is ordering — an authoritative prescription.  And that order is that all creation should have everlasting life.  Jesus demonstrated that command and showed us how we can follow his example (as the disciples did)!

Jesus didn’t just talk the talk.  He healed in order to demonstrate the truth of God’s goodness and of man’s oneness with God.  And he expected others to do the same.  He said, “if ye love me, keep my commandments.”  Those commandments (or instructions) include correcting every falsity that crosses our path — healing every form of discord.  Science and Health says, “[Jesus] by no means relieved others from giving the requisite proofs of their own piety.”  He expected each of us to follow his example.  That is not beyond us — not out of reach!  The requirement?  Piety — which is what?  I liked the definition from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary (which was in use at the time Science and Health was written).  It says piety is “a compound of veneration (which means great respect) or reverence of the Supreme Being and love of his character, or veneration (respect) accompanied with love; and piety in practice, is the exercise of these affections in obedience to his will and devotion to his service.”  So … in plain English, as we embrace God with the same kind of respect and reverence and love that Jesus had for God, and confidently turn to God as Jesus did, we can expect to demonstrate God’s law of good as Jesus demonstrated it.

When you study math or science of any kind, it is expected that you will then work out problems that present themselves by applying what you have learned.  The demonstration of Christian Science (healing as Jesus healed) is no different. Trust the principles and the effect will be seen.  When we do our best to turn to Mind to guide us in everything we do, we will see God’s likeness and find that the Mind that was in Christ is ours, too!  Be patient with yourself.  Do the best you can do, and just keep trying.  That’s good enough to see God!


SECTION 4 — TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND RUN THE RACE THAT IS BEFORE YOU.
The next requirement I see to demonstrating our at-one-ment with God is to follow Jesus’ direction to his disciples, as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in The Message, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how” (cit. B14/Matthew 16:24).  We don’t always get to choose what crosses our path — what race “is set before us” (cit. B15/Hebrews 12:1, 2). But, we can choose how to deal with it.

When Jesus told his disciples to take up the cross, he had not yet been crucified.  But he was so certain of his oneness with God that he knew that his resurrection and ascension were certainties for him — and for all that followed him.  I’ve been taught to think of challenges as opportunities.  I’m not always successful in immediately thinking that way.  But, when I do embrace a problem — rather than run from it — I’m always rewarded with inspiration — and healing (whether slow or fast) comes!

I was struck by Mary Baker’s Eddy description of the “real cross, which Jesus bore up the hill of grief, [as] the world’s hatred of Truth and Love” (cit. S15/50:30-31).  That hatred hasn’t gone away.  I see it as anything that would try to kill or stop our spiritual progress.  That could come in the form of doubt in our ability to demonstrate Christian Science — to experience healing or to heal others.  It could come in the form of pressure from others to go down a path that isn’t our desire.  It could come in the form of being so involved with everyday obligations or distractions that our time for study and prayer gets squeezed out.  But, it is helpful to recognize the suggestions, in whatever form they come, as simply the “world’s hatred of Truth and Love” and refuse to be intimidated — as Jesus refused to be.  We can reject all suggestions of the material senses.  They are errors of belief that Truth corrects as surely as a mathematical truth corrects an error of calculation (cit. S16/23:5).

Two of the important points, or religious tenets, of Christian Science (the 4th & 5th Tenets) address the subject of atonement and Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  Religious teachings often present Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection as the means of reconciling God and man.  These tenets help us to understand that Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection were, in fact, evidence of the effectiveness of God as Love, showing the unity that exists between God and man.  As we’ve said before, it was this understanding of oneness that enabled Jesus to heal — and enables us to heal!  Ultimately, it was only after the resurrection that faith was sufficiently uplifted to “understand eternal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter” (cit. S17/497:13-23).  That’s the standpoint from which we have to reason — regardless of opposition from evidence of the physical senses.  All there is IS God!  We are one with God!


SECTION 5 — RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST TO PRACTICE GOD’S WILL OF ONENESS.
Traditionally, the Jewish feast of Pentecost, or Shavuot, was a celebration of the first fruits of the wheat harvest. It was later associated with a remembrance of the Law given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. And then it became a Christian festival in celebration of when the Holy Ghost descended on the Jews who had gathered for the holiday shortly after Jesus had ascended.  It was reported that there was the sound of a rushing wind and then the people heard the disciples speak to them in their own language, telling them about Jesus. Peter identified the experience as a fulfillment of a prophecy made in Joel 2: 28-32, part of which says, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.” Pentecost signifies the beginning of Christian ministry and today is celebrated 50 days after Easter, acknowledging the new dispensation of the Law (cit. B19/Acts 2:1,2,4-8, 12, 14, 16-18, 22, 32, 42).

To me, the most significant verse cited in the Bible portion of this section is Acts 2:42 which says,  “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer” (NLT).  They didn’t just hear the words and go on their way.  There was truly a shift in thought and action that included a devotion to learn, and to spread the word concerning all that Jesus had taught.  The disciples’ understanding had grown tremendously between the time of Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension.  Now they were able to share that understanding with their fellow Jews.  Today, the Holy Spirit that first touched the disciples, and then those that heard them, is speaking to us through Christian Science (cit. S19/43:3).  No personal presence is required for God to communicate the truth of His presence to His people.  The key is to glimpse the spiritual nature of all that Jesus taught and demonstrated and let go of material standards and measurements.  That’s what the disciples learned to do and helped others do, as well (cit. S20/46: 25-9).

It’s one thing to say we are at-one with God.  It is another to be willing to stick with that truth so steadfastly that we live our lives in accord with it.  Mary Baker Eddy says, “the scientific unity which exists between God and man must be wrought out in life-practice, and God’s will must be universally done” (cit. S21/202:3). We can’t accept anything less.  Even when it feels like a problem has lingered, and we’re tempted to question whether healing can be achieved, we have to stick to our oneness with God — not give in to discouragement and celebrate every healing along the way — big or small.  God knows no limits.  The inspiration (wind) of the Holy Spirit is moving across thought and we can all hear (everyone can hear) the necessary message in a way that we (and each one) can understand and put into practice.


 SECTION 6 — DEMONSTRATE YOUR ONENESS BY LOVING ALL AS CHRIST LOVED.
Regardless of how much our human viewpoints and opinions may differ, we need to do a better job of loving each other as Jesus taught us to love. It takes some effort, and it definitely requires shifting our perspective from a material to a spiritual view.  But, it is essential that we do look past our differences to see each other as God sees us.  God is Love!  How can we demonstrate our oneness with God if we don’t exercise our God-given ability to love?

The key to success is embracing the premise presented below in Galatians … there are no categories of people.  It doesn’t matter how we may differ in terms of race, religious or political beliefs, gender, sexual preferences, economics, or background of any sort.  God made each and every one of us, and loves each and every one.  I believe that Paul was making the point to the Galatians that there is no hierarchy in the saving grace of Christ.  As J.B. Phillips paraphrases, “For now that you have faith in Christ you are all sons of God. All of you who were baptised “into” Christ have put on the family likeness of Christ. Gone is the distinction between Jew and Greek, slave and free man, male and female—you are all one in Christ Jesus” (cit. B20/Galatians 3:26-28).

But, what about those who aren’t Christians?  Then is there a difference?  To me, the point is that it is never about the other person.  It is all about the privilege and responsibility we each have to love as Jesus loved, and taught us to love.  By loving unconditionally as Jesus did, we are exercising our at-one-ment with God as Jesus exercised his.  I found this translation of I Peter 1:22 helpful:  “Now you can have real love for everyone because your souls have been cleansed from selfishness and hatred when you trusted Christ to save you; so see to it that you really do love each other warmly, with all your hearts” (cit. B23/I Peter 1:22, The Living Bible).

In order to live fully, we must love fully.  In order to unite with the church — as the early Christians united with each other — we must love.  In order to heal, we must love! (cit. S23/35:19-25).  So, let’s agree to take the 6th Tenet of our church seriously and to solemnly promise to watch every thought and to “pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus.”  And let’s promise to follow the Golden Rule … “to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”  Notice it doesn’t say to treat others as others treat us …. But treat others as we would like to be treated.  In other words, … take the high road, regardless of what another does.  And, finally, promise “to be merciful, just, and pure” (cit. S24/497:24).  In so doing we will be taking part in the atonement and discover and demonstrate our at-one-ment with God!


CLICK HERE for more application ideas & Bible-based GEMs from Cobbey Crisler & others! [This is largely complete, but may have additions before it is emailed.]


Click on Ken’s shared Journal poem, “Stand in purest light,” to see wholehearted trust in God mirrored … in that pure love that is unconditional, full.

Also hear in the healing monologue, “Go and Sin No More,”  how Jesus could not condemn because he saw in the fact of our atonement there was nothing to condemn.


CALLING ALL WATERSPORTS LOVERS AND SUPPORTERS!
We’ve been praying about the need to update CedarS 2008 Malibu ski boat and about boat shortages and the resultant high prices.  A practitioner on the case was inspired to make a timely call to a past CedarS Ski Camp coach and found out that his ski club was about to advertise  their one-owner, prime condition 2020 Malibu with relatively low hours at a very reasonable price.  We need commitments of $30,000 more TODAY to make this demonstration! It will bless hundreds of campers & staff for years to come!  To help us seal the deal, please give online whatever you can and then text or call me at 314-378-2574 — or email warren@cedarscamps.org — that  the intent of your tax-deductible gift is to help us secure the ongoing excellence of CedarS watersports fleet.


Your Help in other areas is also still Needed and Appreciated!

Operations Support: Especially during this year, tuition will cover less than half the cost of running camp. Donations are needed for facilities maintenance, horse care,  and preparation for summer 2022.
Endowment Matching Grant: Support current and future generations of Christian Science youth by helping CedarS to meet our $1,000,000 Endowment matching grant. We’re about halfway to our match!

With heartfelt gratitude for and to all you, greatly NEEDED and precious supporters, who continue to help CedarS give LIFELONG, DIFFERENCE-MAKING BLESSINGS to hundreds of families and thousands of individuals all across the U.S. and the world. To discuss how to play a vital, ongoing role in our work, feel free to call or text me (Warren Huff) at 314-378-2574 with your pledge or intent to give a planned gift, required IRA distribution or an endowment gift (that will be MATCHED!). Your ongoing support is needed to help us “love into view” continued, lasting blessings and legacies of love each year.

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