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[Spiritualize your concept of man and God to reveal and experience a blessed creation.]
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Everlasting Punishment”
for April 29-May 5, 2019

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

The Golden Text this week comes from the story in the Old Testament of the prophet who refused to curse the Jews when asked by a local king who was hoping for an advantage in battle. This prophet wasn't actually a Jew himself, but heard God's voice admonishing him that these people, the Jews, were blessed. This is the perfect context for understanding why it would be truly a travesty of Christ's message to say that all who do not "accept" Jesus Christ as the savior, is condemned to eternal punishment. This is not the true fate of the man of God's creation. If it were, then there would be some four and a half billion people condemned to this punishment! That is the number of people in the world who are not of the Christian faith.

Just for fun, I looked up the number of references to "everlasting" in the Bible. There are 91. Of those 91, there are 6 that mention such things as "everlasting confusion" (referring to what enemies will experience), "everlasting fire", which in one case tells us that we should cast whatever offends us about ourselves into this fire, and four other places with this kind of wording. The other 85 references include words like "everlasting covenant", "joy", "life", "kindness", "mercy", "kingdom", "dominion", "righteousness", "life" and so on. This is just an interesting thing to note, but it also supports the conclusion that it is not the man of God's creation that is condemned to such an unforgiving and eternal fate. Rather, it is the false story of creation that is burned away to reveal the true, the pure, the whole man of Love's creating.

The word "cursed" is most often associated with the mythological account of Adam and Eve, hence the beauty of our Golden Text this week. Understanding man's true nature requires an ever spiritually higher/purer understanding of God. That means we have to grow out of our false sense of self. Notice I said "sense"? We are not changing who we are. We are developing our spiritual sense, so that we can understand our true nature through God's nature. In this way, we see that sin doesn't actually belong to God's creation.

Throughout this lesson we find that we are called upon to progress and improve our sense of self. The Responsive Reading from Ezekiel is one such passage, urging us to turn away from paths that are not Godlike. You may enjoy thinking of verse 41 of Lamentations 3 in the Responsive Reading, as a prayer: "Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens." Our heart is what we love or cherish or enjoy. Our hands might be thought of as that which "does", they are supremely useful at doing things. Lifting them to "heaven" is a way of spiritualizing our thoughts, what we cherish and what we do. We can pray to do those things out of love for God rather than the human reasons such as approval, money, respect, or even fame.

Our responsibility as the expression of Spirit, is to continuously spiritualize and purify our thoughts, activities, desires, in such a way as to begin to see that these purer ways of seeing ourselves actually are the "real you"! We see this in the accounts of Moses and his discovery of the Commandments, the woman who was brought to Jesus for judgment, and in the palsied man that Jesus healed in the temple, and even in Paul's words of encouragement in Section 5. Each of these examples encourages a purer, spiritually truer concept of ourselves and of man in general. And, this goes hand in hand with a purer and more accurate understanding of our God that [“blesses all and injures none”! CS Hymnal 157:2]

Section 1: God's mercy is unlimited.

We never reach a point of "no return". Because we are His ideas, the expression of His very being, we are always given opportunity to discover this fact. What sense would it make for God to create an idea that could never understand his wholeness, his spiritually amazing nature? On top of that, what sense would it make for Him to create such a being and then punish him eternally for not understanding his nature? (S2) This fact doesn't give us license to willfully do whatever we want without regard to right or good. Such an existence will not bring good into our view. Because of that fact, it is ultimately unsustainable.

Our nature craves self-knowledge, understanding, satisfaction. If you go to a bookstore, you can find shelves and shelves of books on self-improvement, spirituality, diet, exercise, and on and on. The volume of these books points to the fact that the human desire naturally craves good. Those that are finding themselves stuck in error aren't often there because they want to be. Whenever we are ready, there is the mercy of Love, guiding us back to our true nature. It is never "too late" for us to discover infinite Love.

Section 2: Tough or scary times are our opportunity to understand God's nature better.

When Moses was gone for a month, the Children of Israel started to worry that he was not coming back. Lost without his leadership, they felt the need to turn to something "tangible", to "do something" as we might say today, when faced with a challenge. In this case, they turned to Aaron to produce a more "tangible god" for them to worship. They did not have a deeply spiritual understanding of God. Their concept was heavily influenced by the gods of the cultures that surrounded them, the Egyptians, the Canaanites, and others. Just an interesting side note here—the fact that Moses ground up the golden calf into powder and cast it in the water, stems from Canaanite mythology. Perhaps Moses had this in mind when he took this action, subtly indicating that these mythological gods were not only "nothing" but could be ground into harmless powder and consumed! The God of Israel would never take form in matter that can be destroyed.

Considering all the demonstrations of God's power that these people were witness to (escape from Egypt, parting of the Red Sea, water from a rock, Manna from heaven each day), why do you think they were ready to abandon their God in favor of idols when Moses didn't return in a timely way? It's not a bad question to put into modern terms. Today we might ask ourselves from what, or where, does our understanding of God spring? Is it dependant on our parents' strength of belief and demonstration? Is it based on the feeling that we have called ourselves "Christian Scientists" for our whole life, or for a long time? Is it, at root based in some sort of dogmatic faith, or perhaps one or two dramatic healings?

I'm pretty sure that one of the main reasons the Children of Israel abandoned God, was because their spiritual understanding was not deeply rooted in their own demonstration. Rather, they were dependant on Moses to constantly show them God's power and provision. They may have begun to think that it was Moses himself that had this power and not God at all! Is not this situation reminiscent of the way we might be tempted to feel today if a difficult challenge isn't met quickly through prayer? We might be very tempted to find a "tangible" solution that feels more as if we are "doing something", when the call is really to deepen our understanding so that we can see God's action in our day to day experience and build a more solid foundation for our love of God.

Spiritualizing worship is something that is developed over a daily practice. While worship can be enhanced/spiritualized through an amazing healing, such healing is not normally the stuff of daily life. We are more likely to be inclined to worship that on which we feel a daily love and dependence. This is why Moses was given those Ten Commandments that he brought down from the mountain (and broke when he saw his people dancing around a golden calf!)

The Ten Commandments were a step forward in daily spiritualizing our worship of God. They were an advance over the previous practices of worship. It is our job to constantly progress in our spiritual understanding, so that when we meet with a challenge, we can feel a sense of peace, a sense of the spiritual opportunity to hear what God has to say to each of us!

Section 3: Going spiritually higher in our worship of God!

If the Ten Commandments were a big step forward in spiritualizing our understanding, then Jesus' directions to us all could be likened to a space shuttle launch in spiritual advancement. He moved from actions, to the thoughts that produced those actions. He expected us to take a much different view of man. No longer could we write off our typical behavior and say "that's just human". Revenge, hatred, impure thoughts, these all needed to be seen as impediments to spiritualizing consciousness and understanding God. I hope that by stating this outright, I am not entrenching the belief that the entertainment of these thoughts make someone 'evil'.

When we struggle, our best way forward is to recognize the error, to kind of "hold it out in front of us" and see the thought for what it is—a challenge to a true sense of self. Self-condemnation, shame, despair—these are not helpful ways forward. In fact they are sure ways to stagnate or fall deeper into despair. Recognizing that these thoughts are not who we are, knowing who we are, who God is, devoting our thought to discovery and demonstration on a daily basis to this work, this will bring us forward into a higher spiritual understanding of God! It will also naturally remove from our experience some of these less-spiritual inclinations. Does it matter if we are not finding this progress to be easy? No! "No final judgment awaits mortals, for the judgement-day of wisdom comes hourly and continually, even the judgment by which mortal man is divested of all material error." (S16)

The Pharisees in citation B12 were looking for an easy way to condemn Jesus, to catch him disobeying Mosaic law. Jesus, with his deeply spiritual understanding, found that divine wisdom led him to direct those who had no sin to first cast a stone at the woman. Without looking up from the ground, giving each man the privacy to depart without personal judgment of the Master, Jesus made a way for Love to be demonstrated. There was no "everlasting punishment" here, but the mercy and wisdom that allowed for healing and spiritual advancement to all—not just to the woman that was being tried.

Section 4: Spiritual healing uplifts man in every way.

Sometimes, I think we tend to find it hard to separate ourselves from sin, easier from sickness. When we are struggling to elevate thought and behavior and find that we are not moving higher in a discernible way, we can feel a sense of hopelessness. We blame ourselves. This is not productive or helpful in spiritual advancement. I think maybe Jesus perceived something along these lines for the man in citation B14 who he healed of palsy. His message to the man was "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee." First of all, he referred to him as "Son". What a warm and loving appellation! I'm certain he saw the man as God's son! And his simple acknowledgement that this man was not tied to a sinful, fallen model of manhood was enough to heal that man of his condition.

When we are confronted with less than lovely thoughts, we can simply recognize that these thoughts seem to be there. Although they may appear to be very real, never attach them to yourself as God's child. Recognize and welcome our innocence and purity as God's creation.
Do this every single time those thoughts come! Mary Baker Eddy (MBE) is clear that this is the way: "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought." This entire paragraph in citation S21 gives clear direction on how we can uproot these challenges to our status of goodness, our wholeness, our divine perfection. Physical sense will not bear witness to these spiritual facts, but we can keep these senses from overshadowing our clear sense and calm trust, as MBE says. Ultimately the Love within each of us prevails over the lie that tries to tell us we are not completely worthy and good.

Section 5: Sin is enslavement, who wants that eternally?

To be clear, sin is merely the feeling of being separated from God, Good. It is an old archery term for missing the mark. It is helpful to remember this so that we don't build sin into something "bigger" and seemingly more difficult to destroy. Can we practice to become more "accurate", (continuing the archery analogy)? Can we keep lifting our thought to God, to a higher understanding of Spirit?

When we are out walking, we can take conscious note of the beauty around us, natural or manmade. This is acknowledging the presence of God in reflection. We can recognize the iridescent head of a red-bellied woodpecker at our bird feeder as an indication of the variety, beauty, freedom, and liveliness of God. We can acknowledge the tenderness and presence of Love when we experience someone's helpful or generous gesture toward us. Recognizing the evidence of the divine is a way to elevate our spiritual understanding. The more we do this, the more we feel God's presence in our life and the more we find ourselves "walking in the Spirit and not fulfilling the lust of the flesh", to paraphrase Paul in citation B18.

To eradicate the feeling of being separate from God, we must replace it with the conscious acknowledgement of our oneness with Good. This is done through daily, hourly, practice of goodness. Mary Baker Eddy says it this way: "The habitual struggle to be always good is unceasing prayer." (S24) When we wrap up religion or Christian Science in some kind of dogmatic practice or picture that we carry in our head that is tangled in habits, tradition, "what we have always done"…. then we find our freedom to feel our true nature of joyful, pure, lively being, hampered and tied to something that acts like an anchor. We are not then open to the freshest message that God is giving us every hour! Looking at the Bible citations in this section we can find these fresh messages of freedom because they are based in eternal Truth. (Freshness is not found in something new really, but in a new view of something based in Truth.)

Section 6: Love is opposed to everlasting punishment.

Love, God, simply is opposed, by nature, to anything like eternal punishment. In citation B20 we are encouraged to "keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." This requires action on our part. You may want to call it "demonstration". We have found that this demonstration should not be confined to the "amazing", but should be the hourly recognition of God's power and presence in our experience in order to keep our thought moving spiritward.

As we find ourselves inspired, it is like possessing a power that naturally repels evil. Love brings us that inspiration each day, each hour. We just have to keep ourselves moving in that direction with persistence and faithfulness. Mary Baker Eddy tells us that "Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action." (S28) Pinions are the big flight feathers that enable a bird to fly. Think of this image, that right motives, inspired thought, Love itself, give us the power to rise spiritually above these terrible doctrines that would have us think of man in terms of a prisoner, or someone condemned to eternal punishment. The endeavor to lift our thought spiritually, to daily and hourly perceive and cherish God's goodness and presence, these activities reveal a new and fresh sense of Truth, of Love, of Spirit. And these views free, bless, and heal.

[Reminder: Click here for special Cobbey Crisler and Ken Cooper insights this week.]

UPDATE! [Warren: Wow!! With awe and great gratitude!!! Thanks to the generous support received (or pledged) over the weekend from CedarS Newsletter subscribers and supporters, CedarS time-sensitive need is being met to upgrade to new safety standards for the four Ziplines to and from CedarS Bible Lands Park (BLP)!! This activity will annually bless thousands of visitors! It will make Christian Science Sunday School students, teachers and church members more Biblically literate and alive each summer and fall. And it will show “shoulder-season” visitors of all faiths how Christianly practical and Bible-based Christian Scientists are. From Mary’s Chapel behind Dawn Lodge all users can zip back in time to the Bible and BLP, climb its switch-back “Time-Travelers’ Trail” and learn A.P. (Answered Prayer) History lessons to take “back to the future.”

Thank you dear friends who have already given to the needs that we have made known—as well as to those of you who still want in 2019 to make a big difference in CedarS vital work, outreach and blessings!

We have a wonderful matching gift challenge to meet! You can double your donation by helping CedarS earn our "Adopt the Herd" $75,000 Match for the horses and riding program. (still ~$39,000 to go by Sept. 30, 2019.)

So, if you have been blessed by receiving this inspiration weekly and haven't given lately, or are in a postion to be able to give more, we still have many needs, big and small, that you can help meet by clicking on https://www.cedarscamps.org/give/.

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.

Please sign up to give whatever you can on a much-needed MONTHLY basis to support CedarS life-changing work! [You can start at any amount and adjust monthly 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 (tomorrow's joyous workers in our Christ-centered church!

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

You can also reach a member of the Founding family nearly anytime by
PHONE, now at 636-394-6162.

or MAIL to our Winter-Spring office address (below) your tax-deductible support to our 501-C-3 organization.

(Our not-for-profit, Federal Identification Number is #44-0663883):

The CedarS Camps Office
1314 Parkview Valley Drive
Ballwin, MO 63011

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. 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/meta

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