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Experience God's everlasting mercy through obedience to Love's demands
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Everlasting Punishment”
for May 6, 2018

by Kerry Jenkins, CS of House Springs, MO
Kerry.helen.jenkins@gmail.com (314) 406-0041

[To download "Jonah", a poem by Ken Cooper for this Bible Lesson, go to CedarS online Met and click on the Download file in upper right.]

It is hard to imagine that many would truly obey and worship a God who is a proponent of everlasting punishment. The God that Jesus called Daddy [Abba] he particularly and most accurately revealed is a God of everlasting mercy and Love. Certainly this is what our Golden Text this week proclaims. In his Beatitudes, Jesus tells us that man is "blessed" when doing certain things. And even the "thou shalt nots" of the Ten Commandments give us a sense that joy is to be found when staying within those Biblical "guardrails". With that in mind I would like to share the New Living Translation (NLT) of at least some of the Responsive Reading.

Verses 1-3 and 7 of Psalm 119 in particular bring this sense of joyful action to light.
1."Joyful are the people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.
2. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.
3. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.
7. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!"

Living in accord with God's good commands is challenging at times. But our truest sense of self, and certainly our greatest and most consistent sense of joy is discovered when we are found making no compromises with evil, joyfully obeying good with all our hearts. It reminds me of the allegory of Adam and Eve where the serpent tells Eve that "You shall not surely die."— (and you have to say that with that sort of wheedling voice)—that's the compromise that always suggests itself…"it's no big deal". And in that way, we find ourselves missing out on the abundant joy of God's everlasting mercy and blessing for man. Fortunately, as we learn in this week's lesson, we have infinite opportunity to correct our course and experience this joy right now!

Section 1: Start with your innocence.

It doesn't always feel like the truth when we are overcoming an ungodlike trait, to start with our innocence, but to heal and to be healed we must start with "perfect God and perfect man." (S&H 259:11) Why is this? Because this is how God made us and knows us. (B2) I think of citation B6 as declaring that we instinctively know that we are God's and that he didn't make us in mortality. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:" This is revealed within our consciousness if we are willing to stand firm with our innocence. Of course we cannot do this, and at the same time glibly go on doing what we know is not right.

Citation S6 tells us that "The likeness of God we lose sight of through sin, which beclouds the spiritual sense of Truth; and we realize this likeness only when we subdue sin and prove man's heritage, the liberty of the sons of God." We cannot see our true selfhood when sinning, because the sin clouds our sense of God. This makes us feel as if God is distant from us, a desperate feeling indeed. What we are doing when we take steps to leave sin behind is aligning ourselves with the true spiritual man, the man of God's creating and God's knowing. This man is innocent, and we can claim that innocence as ours at any time!

Jesus told us that the kingdom of God is within—can you imagine sinful man carrying the kingdom within? Citation S3 tells us that "Whatever is false or sinful can never enter the atmosphere of Spirit. [isn't that like the kingdom of God?] There is but one Spirit. Man is never God, but spiritual man, made in God's likeness, reflects God." Aligning ourselves with that true man brings us into that kingdom or atmosphere of Spirit!

Section 2: Resisting God's direction creates "storms".

Most Bible scholars agree that Jonah's story is likely satirical. It was a post-exilic story, meaning that the Jews had already been removed from their homeland and were mostly scattered abroad. Jonah's outrage at having to go and warn the Assyrians of their wrongdoing and preach repentance stems from the fact that the Assyrians were longtime enemies of the Jews. Why should he go and warn them to repent? Shouldn't they suffer for their sins against the Jews, against God?

It may seem obvious to us today that God is a God of all men, that His creation includes all mankind and not just Jews, or Christians. But in the day of this story Jews widely held that they were the only people of God. Jesus came along and set that concept on its ear by telling the allegory of the Good Samaritan, and by healing at the request of a Roman centurion and by speaking with people outside the accepted Jewish community. There were other Bible characters that showed this kind of love, but Jesus and his followers were the first to expound this more expansive love.

Yet here in the book of Jonah, we have a story of God's mercy and compassion, and one man's resistance to God's direction. We find that the men on board the ship who worshiped many gods, were full of compassion and concern about throwing Jonah overboard! Yet God was merciful not only toward the Assyrians, but also toward the repentant Jonah, even reluctant as he was. While the story clearly states that God stirred up a storm and prepared a fish to swallow Jonah, we can see that this story being more allegorical than factual, this setting symbolize the fact that "Error excludes itself from harmony. Sin is its own punishment." (S8)

Likely all of us can think of a time where we followed an ill-advised course and felt the "punishment" of that action. But blaming God for this "punishment" would be like breaking a red light at a traffic signal, getting hit by another car that had the green light, and then blaming the traffic light for the accident.

Section 3: Repentance and reform bring harmony.

God does not know man as a sinner (Hab. 1.13, B1). Divine Love's very design (S14) is to help us make our way God-ward. The fact that God did not make sinning mortals, nor does He "see" sin, does not make Him removed from our experience, but uplifts our consciousness to new views of Love's goodness and harmony. I don't know if Jonah is the best example of willing obedience, but at least he ultimately did God's bidding by preaching repentance to the Assyrians, and in so doing, saving that considerable population from destruction.

God's desire is always for salvation. We can embrace repentance and follow God's commands for us with a willingness that maybe Jonah should have embraced more quickly. Mrs. Eddy puts it this way: "Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, – this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony. The purification of sense and self is a proof of progress." (S18)

The tough thing about uprooting sin is that we often find it pleasurable and difficult to relinquish, whereas we are pretty ready to dump sickness because it is uncomfortable! The trick is to recognize that there are greater joys in obeying Spirit, and trusting that this will be revealed to us! We are not giving up anything that brings real joy. Rather, in giving up sin, we receive greater joy, satisfaction and harmony.

At one time before my husband and I had children, we joined an early music chorus. This was a small ensemble of young people, directed by a graduate student, and it was thrilling to sing with this group. After most of a year we started to feel badly that this group met on Wednesday nights, making Wednesday evening church impossible to attend. But we also had attended Wednesday nights before this group began and found it a pretty tough hour—about fifty minutes of readings and ten minutes of testimonies. The reasoning, I'm sure, was that this church was very small and they felt that the people attending had probably shared all the healings that they had to share many times over. Less time for testimonies meant less awkward silence. When our year was up, Doug and I felt that we really needed to be attending Wednesday meetings and we reluctantly and sadly told the director of the ensemble that we couldn't participate in the fall.

Later we were called and told that they changed the rehearsal nights to another evening and we were able to sing another year in this lovely ensemble as well as attend church. We also got a wonderful new reader at church who bravely allowed for a full half hour of testimony time. And, as you might have guessed, these meetings overflowed with gratitude, healing and fellowship. It is not necessarily God's law that we attend every church service, but in this case, this was what we heard God telling us to do, and in obeying, we found our life abounding with greater joy and love.

Section 4: Don't be fooled by false theology.

In the story of Jesus healing the man of palsy (B17) the scribes accused Jesus of blasphemy for telling the man that his sins were forgiven. At other times church elders claimed blasphemy when Jesus healed on the Sabbath. These claims are nothing more than false theology, believing God to be a God of dogmatic laws that evince no love. Jesus showed that if a law does not express mercy and love, it is not a law of God.

Jesus detected in the palsied man, a need not only for "good cheer", but for a release from a sinful sense of self. He revealed a God that created man whole, free, sinless. He could see this, where the scribes could not—their senses being clouded by dogma, a sin in itself. You could say that they lacked the purity of heart that we find in the beatitude in citation B19.

If we find ourselves critical of others for choices they have made, for situations they are in, we might ask ourselves if we are falling prey to a kind of false theology. Christian Science is a law of love to man. It does not draw lines of exclusion. There are not those deserving, and those undeserving of God's mercy. "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." (B18) This encapsulates God's love for His creation.

We can have this "correct view of man" (S20) that Mrs. Eddy tells us Jesus had. With this view we find we can better master our own challenges when we are listening for God's direction, and we find ourselves with more authority to deny both sickness and sin.

Section 5: Turning from sin "blesses the whole human family." (S24)

I was interested to learn in my study of the story of Zacchaeus, that his name is a Greek version of a common Hebrew name that means "innocent" or "clean". Isn't that perfect for this lesson?! As many of you know, a tax collector would have been considered "unclean" as he handled money. Many tax collectors were known for collecting more than was fair, as it was left to them to determine what to collect beyond what was owed to the Roman state. I have always loved Zacchaeus' instant acknowledgement of his present purity and goodness. He spends not a moment dwelling on past sins, but welcomes his true identity with childlike joy and intensity.

We can "stand" like Zacchaeus, "in his holy place" (B20) by accepting our innocence and perfection. This is our true nature that is found through our willing obedience to Good. And the really awesome thing with this story is that the blessing for everyone was evident in his obedience. This story is paired with that statement that I excerpted above from citation S24. Our obedience really does bless all mankind by uplifting the true man, letting the light of that man shine to inspire and heal.



Look for a follow-up email with Cobbey Crisler insights on select citations and additional application ideas from Warren Huff for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on “Probation After Death” for April 29, 2018.


For Your Information and Support, PLEASE:
1. MORE CAMPERSHIP FUNDS ARE NEEDED AS MORE APPLICATIONS COME IN DAILY! Thank you for giving camperships that are so much needed and appreciated for our fast approaching summer of 2018. Especially helpful are your much-needed MONTHLY gifts, past and ongoing, that can be started and adjusted as you wish at:www.cedarscamps.org/giving ] All of your gifts add up to big blessings in the lives of today's Sunday School students!

2. CedarS “Adopt the Herd” Matching Fund is not yet met.

In the time since Giving Tuesday you helped raise over $52.5k for the Riding Program, which will be doubled through the Adopt the Herd Matching Fund, for a total of $105k to help feed and care for CedarS wonderful horses. We still have ~$12.5k to raise to take advantage of the $65k Adopt the Herd match. (More info at http://www.cedarscamps.org/giving/adopt-the-herd/)

With advance and ongoing gratitude and love,
Warren, Gay, Holly & your CedarS Family

P.S. If you haven't yet given, or are blessed with more to give, we still have many needs, big and small, that you can help meet by clicking on https://www.cedarscamps.org/giving/tree/.

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[THANKS TO YOU PRECIOUS DONORS FOR YOUR ONGOING, GENEROUS and NEEDED SUPPORT OF CedarS IMPORTANT WORK!]

[CedarS weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff blessed each summer at CedarS, as well as to CedarS alumni, families and friends who have requested it. However, current and planned gifts are a huge proof of your ongoing LOVE made visible and are greatly appreciated!! They not only defray the costs of running this service but also provide greatly needed camperships and essential program and operations support.

[The Met application ideas above are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of studying and applying 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/

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