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Experience God's law of Love—free from punishment, rich with learning.
Metaphysical application ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Everlasting Punishment”
for the week ending May 3, 2020

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

[Click for GEMs of additional application ideas.]

In the past, when I have shared notes and thoughts on this lesson subject, I researched just how many times the word "everlasting" appears in the Bible, and in what context. I was curious as to how often it was used in terms of punishment (once), or "fire", or maybe another negative thing. I just took a quick look this time, because I feel it is important to see the overwhelming message of the Bible for what it really is. It is a message of love, of comfort, of repentance, of redemption and grace, hope, and so much more that is good. Yes, there are some threats. But, it is clear that the Bible would not have the impact or audience that it has today if it were a book of punishment and vengeance.

Of the 91 passages containing the word "everlasting" they are overwhelmingly aligned with positive qualities: covenants, love, mercy, power, goodness, and so on. There are a spare five or so that are related to anything like "punishment", and, from our study of this week's lesson, we can begin to understand that even this concept of punishment is never God, Love, punishing Her creation, but a misconception of man as a separate existence from divine Life.

When we sin, or act in a way that causes us to feel separated from Love or Truth, it can seem like we are being punished. We might feel unhappy, or afraid, caused by whatever results from our actions that are not in accord with divine Good. This is not God punishing us, any more than gravity punishes us when we jump from a too tall building!

There are four beautiful examples in this week's Bible lesson that help us take a deep dive into God's true nature—what belongs to God, what does not. And what belongs to God's man, and what does not. Jesus certainly came to free us from the grip of sin, of feeling separate from God and enslaved as mortals. Here is a window through which we can understand a little bit more about how we can demonstrate this closeness, and our freedom from the punishing beliefs of life in matter.

Our Golden Text literally reminds us that God's "tender mercies" and "loving kindnesses" have existed forever, are everlasting. This is in direct opposition to the theological idea of everlasting punishment.

In the Responsive Reading we have Jesus preaching, healing, and gathering Matthew the tax collector under his wing as a disciple. This would have caused outrage among the Pharisees, even among many devout Jews, who viewed anyone handling money (and especially handling the tax collection for the Roman government!) as especially "unclean". Here was Jesus calling this man to be one of his faithful followers!

Jesus' answer to their outrage was that he was come to heal those who were sick, not those who were "whole". There is certainly some question here as to what the implications of this statement might have been… and this idea is revisited in Section 4 in one of his parables.

Is there anyone who doesn't need the healing Christ? This then, is one of the important themes in this week's lesson, that of humility. We have the humility of Moses, the humble woman who is bent over, (and maybe the humbling of those who opposed her healing?), we have the humility of the publican in Jesus' parable, and the last story, of Simon, is an example of the total opposite of this kind of humility.

Humility is the great power of knowing that God is governing in Love, and that we are one with that Love, all our ability springing from that Love.

Section 1: God is only Love.

Here is a quick count of qualities associated with God just in this section: loving, merciful, preserving, saving good, forgiving, answering, listening, attending, doing (wondrous) good, compassionate, full of truth, and longsuffering. Is there some mixture in these qualities whereby man, God's creation, can cross a line and become "unforgivable" and subject to everlasting punishment?

This goes to two, long battled, points which Christian Science thoroughly answers. Did God make mortal man, a mixture of sin and good, matter and spirit? Is God the creator of good and evil? I guess these are really versions of the same question. Mary Baker Eddy (MBE) gives us this sentence to help us understand Love: "Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation." [S1, 332:4-5] Note here, she says "spiritual creation". Mortal man is a misconception of true, spiritually created, man.

We have a lot of good explanations for mortal man, including the Adam and Eve model in Genesis, chapter 2. And it is not useful to dismiss this misconception without humbly demonstrating, in everyday small ways, that we are not a slave to matter. Jesus gave us the model for how we can do this, and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health is the key to understanding this more thoroughly and demonstrating our dominion, that is given us by God (outlined in Genesis 1). This God is all good. God is not a compromise of a loving being that allows evil to thrive, intervening on occasion, when called. God/Love is worth understanding, worth knowing and worshiping—because Love is all Love.

Section 2: God does not punish.

The most enlightened understanding of parenting understands that punishment is not useful, does not teach or truly correct. For some of us this seems counterintuitive. Discipline, an art of teaching rather than punishment, is helpful. The most effective kind of parenting that I've experienced is that in which I step back and lovingly support my child, while they learn from their own experience, (within safe boundaries), what works, and doesn't work.

Christian Science does not reveal a manlike, though powerful, God. Rather, it reveals a God who is the law of Love, of Truth, for example. These laws exist to bless. When we try to work outside of these laws, we experience inharmony, not because these laws are reaching out and punishing us, but because we are not in harmony with the activity of these laws.

It's a bit like going outside on a windy and wintry day with no coat. The cold is not punishing us, we just didn't dress properly to be comfortable! Now, Love is not some insensible version of the weather, remember Mary Baker Eddy defines God as "Father-Mother". But, the law of Love is a law that inexorably draws us to our true nature as loving ideas of God.

The story in this section is a great example of being inexorably drawn to our true nature instead of being punished. (Keep in mind, that the author of this story had his own conceptions of God, from his point of view God was punishing Miriam for her role in questioning Moses' place as the chosen leader of Israel. This does not mean this is not inspired word, just that it was written down by someone with a point of view.) Miriam and Aaron were operating outside the law of Love that universally embraces and values Her spiritual creation.

Humanly, we may be tempted to feel envy, but truly, Love bestows good on all. In this case Miriam and Aaron were essentially judging Moses' worthiness because of his choice in wives. Their gossipy judgment was corrected by this message from God. The "leprosy" that would isolate us from a loving community, often takes the shape of gossip, judgmentalism, envy.

Here, Moses embodies the message in citation B6, through his humble love and forgiveness, he embraces Miriam in God's Love and she is healed. Even the community is willing to wait the set number of days for that ritual purity that would allow someone in that time to rejoin the community. No punishment, just learning.

Section 3: God's law is a law of Love.

In this section Jesus rails on the interpretation of Jewish law that would condemn a "daughter of Abraham" to being "tied" to illness, while the law allowed people to free their animals to lead them to water on the Sabbath. This is a theological example of focusing on an interpretation of religious law ("Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy"), and viewing it through a human lens.

Jesus silenced their objections to his healing of the bowed together woman by making this comparison—pointing out the inhumanity of their interpretation in such a way that it was impossible to think that God would not embrace this woman in at least the same love that He would have for beasts of burden. Her illness was not a product of God's law, a punishment for some misdeed of hers. It is well to keep this in mind.

This false theology of divine punishment can easily creep into the thought that is not alert! The questions such as, "what did I do wrong to deserve this?", or "What am I not understanding about Christian Science/God that is making me feel this way?" are tricks of false theological thought. Most of us have been tempted by these kinds of questions at one time or another. They are false theology. They stem from a belief in a God who punishes, or allows punishment. The law of Love encompasses only loving action. It corrects lovingly by changing thought, revealing what is true.

Section 4: Humble honesty heals sin.

Justice is from Principle/God. It is not the personal possession of man, or of society. (B12) When we understand that we can receive just and merciful treatment because it springs from Love, we can more readily find the humility and self-honesty to progress and go higher in our understanding of God-given dominion. If we are attempting to reach this through human goodness, following religious rules, or any other humanly circumscribed system, we are often trying to "possess" a personal sense of human goodness.

Jesus' parable of the publican and the Pharisee praying in public, is meant to teach this lesson of all goodness coming from God. God alone is the source of righteousness—we reflect this goodness. (B14) A true prayer recognizes good as coming from God, and not as a personal, human, possession. When we see that goodness comes from God, we can not only access it more freely, but also recognize that we don't "own" the suggestions of evil qualities either. This is what Mary Baker Eddy means when she tells us that "As in Jesus' time, so today, tyranny and pride need to be whipped out of the temple, and humility and divine Science to be welcomed in." [S21, 142:18-20] This "temple" is our own sense of body or human self.

Genuine honesty with ourselves is the only way to uncover that sin (“missing of the mark”—or I love to think of sin as "forgetting"), and to heal it, make it disappear. Any human system that is effective in healing addiction, for example, hinges on our honest admission that there is a suggestion or appearance that needs to be addressed. This reflects this law of Love and Truth that helps us understand the nothingness of sin, by healing our "forgetful" tendencies.

Section 5: Base your words on your own experience.

Sometimes it's tempting to share our enthusiasm for what we are learning of this great Science when we haven't anchored this enthusiasm in our own demonstration. While reading of and listening to others wonderful demonstrations is profoundly moving and inspiring, it is only through our own daily demonstrations of this Science that we can anchor ourselves in the law of Love. This does not mean that each day has a "burning bush" experience, or a life changing physical healing. Rather, we have at least one moment each day where we can say that we recognize the presence and power of God.

Recognizing daily the presence and power of God is more a question of learning to identify this activity, than it is "making" this activity happen! (Fortunately:-) Simon had used methods that might today be called hypnotism, or something of that sort, to impress people in the city of Samaria. He made money from his dubious activities. When he saw the healing work that the apostles did, he assumed, in ignorance, that this was some new kind of money-making magic that he could purchase from them. He completely missed the point of how Love operates. This is another example of Truth revealing, or uncovering error in order to progress.

The law of Truth does reveal to each of us, just exactly what we need to leave behind in order to move forward. It is a bit like taking a shower. Love/Truth is the water that naturally cleanses, purifies. It knows nothing of the dirt, it just acts as it nature acts. Love and Truth are constantly revealing our purity naturally. But, we cannot just put on clean clothes that look like someone else’s and then "be" that person. We have to actually experience the cleansing of that shower first (S25). Luckily, for us, Love and Truth are always at work embracing us and naturally correcting, because that is our true nature that is being revealed!

Section 6: The God we worship is universal Love.

This is a God worth worshiping. Our First Commandment tells us that there is only one God. When that God is all Love, then that is all that can be present. Love does not, cannot, punish. Again, we have a list of the qualities of this all-good God. This God "demonstrates health, holiness, life eternal, He is good, unifies, ends wars, equalizes, annuls the curse on man…and ultimately, He "…leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed" (S29).

There really is no human theology that can encompass this kind of God. That is why Mary Baker Eddy's favorite text is that First Commandment. And this impartial divine Love is available to all who are humbly honest and ready to receive Love's messages.


[Warren:] CedarS 2020 #BestSummerYet! and #BestStaffYet! are being hourly planned and loved into 2020 vision. We are working to demonstrate that "Of two things fate cannot rob us, namely, of choosing the best [summer yet and best fall yet!], and of helping others thus to choose." (Miscellany, 165:2)

Enjoy 14 minutes of pure joy! CedarS new inspirational and program videos are hope-filled visions of divine delight designed to help you choose the best thoughts and best programs for you and yours! Have fun choosing as you pick and click at www.cedarscamps.org/videos/

CedarS 2020 wise, preventative practices and adjustments being made as needed:
In fun, uplifting style — typical at CedarS — we will practice proven protocols for regular, deep-cleaning handwashing "baptisms." Out of a deep desire to be compassionate to everyone's comfort level, ahead of camp we are following social distancing and masking etiquette. And to be obedient to the laws of the land, we are following self-quarantine and non-gathering guidelines to bless all for the longterm.

CedarS team is prayerfully and practically supporting a spiritual sense of a moment-by-moment closeness, and even oneness with, God. This will be loved and thanked into view with a thought-by-thought sanitizing and testing process of mental inoculation as well as by extensive surface and hand sanitizing.

FYI: As needed, CedarS can guarantee full tuition refunds, and even travel refunds!

FYI, as more CedarS families are able to go back to work and enrollments pick up in coming weeks, we plan to forward CedarS phone line 636-394-6162 so you can reach us at nearly any time to discuss your interests or to share your ideas and support.

or you also can MAIL your tax-deductible support to our St. Louis area office address:
The CedarS Camps, Inc.
410 Sovereign Court #8
Ballwin, MO 63011

CedarS is a not-for-profit, 501-C-3 organization with Federal ID # 44-0663883.

American Camp Association

MAIN OFFICE
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(636) 394-6162

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