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Don’t Be Intimidated: Be Watchful and Defeat the “Bully” of Evil
Lesson application ideas for: Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced for May 28-June 3, 2007
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S.  Bartlett, Illinois

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 (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp!       You can sign up free to have these mets emailed to you in English by Monday or in French or Spanish by Wednesday: CHECK FOR A FREE TRANSLATION of this weekly “met” offered in FRENCH by Pascal Bujard of Switzerland AND NOW in SPANISH by Ana Arcioni of Spain.  

One of the first things coaches teach young baseball players is to get into their “ready positions.” They can’t be caught napping when a line drive is coming their way. In the Golden Text Christ Jesus teaches his followers to be ready too. The Amplified Bible puts it like this: “Watch (give strict attention, be cautious, active and alert)!”

Being ready enables us to see the attacks that would try to harm or deceive us. In the Responsive Reading Jesus’ alertness is put to the test. The tempter tries to get Jesus to “set aside his complete obedience to the will and purpose of God by adopting an easier means to the fulfillment of his mission” (The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible). First, he is tempted to use material means to win over the people. The Romans “gained favor of the masses by distributing bread” (Ibid.). But Jesus’ mission was religious, not social. Second, he is tempted to prove his position by a spectacular exhibition of God’s care for him. But Jesus wanted followers because they “were attracted by the holiness and graciousness of his character, by the loftiness of his teaching, and by the love of God to man which was manifested in his words and actions” (Dummelow). Third, he is tempted to skip the hard work. The tempter promises political power, wealth, and popularity if Jesus would just fall down and worship him. But Jesus knows that he can only succeed by carrying out God’s will.
The tempter’s use of scripture might have convinced someone less watchful to take the bait. Fortunately for us, Jesus was awake to the tricks of evil. Hopefully, this week’s Lesson will help us to be more alert to the devices of evil, and will give us some tools to defend ourselves.
Section I: “Become more familiar with good than with evil…”
Just as Jesus faced temptation, we are faced with a variety of teachings and systems offering “enlightenment” and a more “spiritual” approach to life. Some are obviously leaning toward the dark and mysterious. Some seem plausible and very close to Christian Science. But, many of these blatantly plagiarize Science and Health without giving it credit. Do you ever wonder if these systems have anything to offer? While exploring isn’t necessarily a bad thing, putting faith in anything other than God is not conducive to legitimate spiritual growth. Paul wrote, “I would have you experts in good, innocents in evil” (Moffatt) (B1). The only real force is God (B2). The children of Israel were tempted to turn to pagan superstitions, too. But in Deuteronomy (B3) they are urged to not indulge in such abominations. It isn’t necessary to turn away from God because He has promised a succession of prophets to guide His people. This promise culminated in the coming of Christ Jesus. He brought new light on the character and nature of God in a time when the world was yearning for a more deeply spiritual salvation. Jesus’ Gospel urged repentance-a complete break with the past. Referring to his followers as a “flock” (B5) he taught humility and readiness to “accept divine rule” (Interpreter’s). The reference to the second and third watch of the night urges “wakefulness at the time of one’s greatest temptation to sleep” (Ibid.).
Likewise, Mrs. Eddy states that “prayer, watching, and working” (S1) are the only paths to success. On page 103 of Science and Health (S2) she defines animal magnetism as “The false belief that mind is in matter, and is both evil and good; that evil is as real as good and more powerful.” Note that animal magnetism is not a reality, but a false belief. She goes on to say that it is “either ignorant or malicious.” This means that it is sometimes indulged by mistake, and other times practiced on purpose with intent to harm. She cautions that the second form leads to “moral idiocy.” In such a case, one loses all sense of reason. Mrs. Eddy warned against occult practices. Like Paul, she wanted us to be “more familiar with good than with evil” (S4). She warned us to bar our thoughts against evil as we would bar our doors to keep out thieves and murderers. In other words, we need to take responsibility for what we accept as real and not be lazy about letting just any old idea take root in our thinking. Neither, should we be fearful of the threats error makes against us. Often, critics deride Christian Science by saying we “don’t believe in evil.” However, Mrs. Eddy acknowledged that in human experience there exists a belief of evil. This belief is disposed of through the “Science of Mind” (S5). One could say that animal magnetism, or error, acts very much like a bully. Some synonyms for bully are intimidate, terrorize, persecute, torment, frighten, oppress, browbeat, harass. Of course, error has no power to do these things: It is only a suggestive belief. But if we accept error as real we open the door to being victims of this false claim to power. Bullying behavior is always about power. The only way to eliminate this false claim to power is to realize that God is the only power. One of the best ways to defend against a bully is first, to identify the bully; second, to be ready with a response; and third, to be totally unimpressed by it. The rest of the Lesson helps us do just that.
Section II: Who’s Got the Power?
Jesus was anointed by God to heal “all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil” (Amplified) (B6). He conferred this power over evil on his disciples as well (B7). Though the disciples were joyful over their power, Jesus had a more sober view. According to Abingdon, Jesus’ remark that he beheld Satan as “lightening fall from heaven” (B8) expressed “exaltation in ultimate victory with a foreboding of the trouble which must be endured before that consummation.” Jesus was well aware of the resistance of worldly thought to the omnipotence of God, and of the bullying ways of evil. The Psalmist rejoiced in complete conformity to the will of God (B9). Jesus took the power of evil away through his total surrender to God’s will alone.
Science and Health confirms that when we are governed by God, we see that all things are possible (S6). Believing that willpower is a factor in healing can develop into what Mrs. Eddy called malpractice. Healing is not exercise of one’s will over another’s. It is the acknowledgement of the divine will alone. Willpower is control of one over another (S7). Personal willpower is devoid of God. It is a method of error not of Truth. As such, it is vulnerable to misuse and abuse. Sometimes willpower is mistaken for prayer. At other times it is used intentionally to effect healing. This amounts to hypnotism, which has nothing to do with Christian Science (S8). Genuine healing cannot be reversed, and it recognizes no will but the divine. Our Leader warns us to be a law unto ourselves that mental malpractice cannot harm us at any time. Neither sickness, false healing methods, nor any malicious mental influence can bully us. Divine Love is the only power and is fully sufficient to destroy the false claims of evil (S9).
Section III: Judas Joins the Enemy
There has been much speculation over the motives behind Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Jesus cautioned his disciples over and over again to be on guard. Judas evidently did not bar the door of his thought against evil. Recently there have been films that portray Judas as an unwitting participant. Others have held that he had no choice because it was God’s will. Dummelow’s remarks are more along the lines of how Mrs. Eddy characterized Judas’ actions. He writes, “Judas was thoroughly alienated from Jesus. He found his Master’s ideals diverging more and more widely from his own…His former love and trust were now turned into hatred and contempt, and in a frenzy of disappointed ambition he betrayed Jesus.” Whereas Jesus refuted the temptation to use worldly means to further his mission, Judas was not alert and fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Interestingly, Jesus giving Judas the sop (B12) was an offer of good will similar to sharing a drink with someone. Judas’ refusal of it indicated his refusal of divine Love’s attempt to save him (Ibid.). At that point he had completely given himself up to envy and hatred, and set off to betray Jesus.
Whether or not Judas initially had evil motives, he did nothing to resist them. Jealous of Jesus’ spiritual goodness and power, Judas was deceived into thinking he had the power to stop Jesus. The citations from Science and Health present ways to combat evil thoughts. Knowing that “evil has neither intelligence nor power…strips all disguise from error” (S10). The only wisdom we need concerning evil is that it is powerless. Evil is a deception. “Evil is not supreme; good is not helpless” (S11). “Success in error is defeat in Truth” (S12). These statements need no comment. If we would watch our thinking we’d be able to keep evil out of it (S13). God gives us power over serpents and scorpions. Science and Health shows how. The way to protect ourselves is to build up a strong defense with virtue and truth. The section closes with the Sixth Tenet (S14). Living by that “solemn promise” we would never be found sleeping, nor agreeing with evil in any form.
Section IV: Don’t Stand By-Be Active for Good
Judas wasn’t the only disciple who had a hard time staying awake. As Judas succumbed to the malicious form of evil, the others fell for the ignorant form. They did nothing to stand up for their friend and Master. Jesus looked to his closest students to stay awake, watch and pray with him. They left him to face the bully on his own. Even a bystander of bullying is responsible in some degree, because he takes no action to stop it. Always watchful, Jesus looked to his Father for help (B13). His disciples just slept (B14).
Speaking of the human condition, Mrs. Eddy does not seem alarmed by “slumbering thought.” In fact, she writes that the calamities that take place while the world is sleeping “foreshadows the triumph of truth” (S15). She stands firm with the revelation that God is the only power and presence (S16). During Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane, he realized that material intelligence was not possible (S16). His students failed to respond to his call for help in the hour of need, and he turned away from Earth forever. If you have ever been bullied, you may know that you can’t look to others to solve the problem. Jesus looked away from human help and relied fully on God. We too, in the face of any threat to our well-being can follow his lead and turn whole-heartedly to God, our best and ever friend.
Section V: Evil Is Doomed to Destruction
In this section we have prime examples of where moral idiocy leads. Judas was so blinded by animal magnetism that he didn’t know right from wrong. The time spent conniving and plotting clouded his reason. Ironically, Judas betrayed his master with a kiss (B15), and seeing the result of his betrayal, he was consumed with remorse. After returning his fee to the Pharisees, he killed himself. Abingdon writes that, “Judas destroyed himself physically because he came to realize that he had already destroyed himself morally.” The Pharisees didn’t fair much better. The priests too, suffered from moral idiocy. They found nothing wrong with using treasury money to fund and corrupt Judas, yet would not take it back because it was “blood money.” This inability to see right from wrong is a direct result of being taken in by animal magnetism. Eventually it leads to self-destruction. “This is the way of the devil,” writes Euthymius, “Before we sin, he suffers us not to see the evil of it, lest we should repent. But after the sin is done, he suffers us to see it, to cause us remorse, and to drive us to despair” (Dummelow).
Our textbook points out the difference between Jesus and his betrayer. Jesus did not return evil for evil. He remained silent. He proved that material conditions could not harm the Christ (S18, 19). Showing his accusers that he could not be moved from his spiritual stance is very similar to a method taught to disarm bullies. The bully keeps harassing because he gets a reaction and enjoys having the power to produce one. When the victim no longer reacts, the bully realizes he doesn’t have any power and loses interest. Jesus did not react with alarm to Judas’ kiss of betrayal. Judas realized his plan wasn’t going to stop Jesus’ mission (S20). Even his co-conspirators turned on him. Judas was in a downward spiral, and he fell along with his plot. Evil cannot win because it isn’t a real power. When Jesus stood before his accusers, “he answered nothing.” He maintained his dominion. It is said that Mrs. Eddy once told a student, “Error comes to you for life, and you give it the only life that it has.” If we fall for the bait and give it life, it seems to be real. Our textbook tells us evil is “neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense” (S21). So evil has no power to scheme, outwit, or do any harm. The only real intelligence and power is God.
Section VI: Is It In You?
Jesus endured the crucifixion, but that fact does not imply that he also endured defeat. Jesus stood strong in the face of bullying hatred and envy. He maintained his composure through it all. Evil’s purpose is always to stop the activity of good. But good cannot be stopped. Jesus showed that the victory rests on the side of righteousness. Paul encourages us to be steadfast and unmovable (B19). Our work for goodness is “never wasted or to no purpose” (Amplified). We should not be dismayed because evil seems to be all around us. It may seem to be like an armed opponent or a menacing bully, but the forces of good within us are stronger than those of evil. Rephrasing Romans 12:21, Abingdon states, “…by the active exercise of good, [we are] to win the victory over evil.” That’s what we need-“active exercise of good.”
Mrs. Eddy tells us that we have “enlisted to lessen evil” by realizing its nothingness and the allness of God (S23). To “enlist” is to “enter heartily into a cause” (Student’s Reference Dictionary). We need to be moved to action. A popular sports drink promises a surge of energy to propel you to victory. Nothing compares to the surge one feels through recognition of the “divine energy of Spirit” (S24). Jesus showed the world that no matter how bad a situation looks, it can be overcome through the all-power of Love. The Christ has been called the “verb form” of God. It motivated Jesus and presented God’s man as indestructible and “having dominion over all the earth” (S26).
Section VII: Witnessing the Victory of Righteousness
The watchmen in this section are looking for the messenger of salvation (B21). This is echoed in Revelation as the saints rejoice. They lift up their voices in anticipation of the final victory over evil. Now the spiritual idea has support. The conflict between light and darkness, order and disorder, is over and the old bully dragon is cast down (B22).
Bullying is defined as a deliberate act that is repeated over time and hurtful to another. This definition can be easily applied to the ways and methods of error. This deceiver has always “made war” on the divine idea (S27). Call it what you like: tempter, Satan, serpent, deceiver, dragon, or animal magnetism. The deceiver operates like a bully. Mrs. Eddy teaches us to be unimpressed by it. So what if it tries to stop the activity of good! No matter what evil tries it is powerless (S28). It’s an old, old story. It is proven to be nothingness (S29). Error has always been a bully. The fact is that “Innocence and Truth overcome guilt and error” (S30). Evil has no chance in the presence of good. We need to be awake and alert not to let evil hoodwink us into thinking it has any power at all. Be watchful. Don’t let the bully suck you in, make you stand by, fall asleep, or make you react. Respond with the power of dominion. Then sing your song of victory!

Camp Director’s Note: The above sharing is the latest in a 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 citations referenced (i.e.   B1 and S28) from this week’s Bible Lesson in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30) 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 these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.   Spirituality is your innate estate that connects you moment by moment with God. (See S&H 258:30) Christ is the gift of light that Jesus gave. This Christ light of spiritual understanding comes with and reveals infinite blessings. So, have fun unwrapping and cherishing your very special, spiritual gift(s)!   Then, wherever you are, share them with all as big blessings that make the Infinite difference!

Warren Huff, Camp Director (636) 394-6162
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