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Find Eternal Life through Spiritual Mindedness
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for:

January 15—21, 2018

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Glen Ellyn, Illinois / (630) 830-8683

[A downloadable, Ken Cooper poem with lessons of "Life" from Jesus
raising Jairus' daugther is in the upper right of the online version of this Met.]

Have you ever thought about what motivates you? The answer to that question depends largely upon one’s circumstances. For some just finding something to eat is the main focus of the day. Others hope to get through a day without fear, or sorrow, or pain. Others might want to make as much money as they can, or save a life, or solve a problem, or invent something, or create the perfect piece of art, or compose a rapturous symphony. Yet others might feel that life is drudgery, and they have to pull themselves through the day by their bootstraps. There are as many motivations as there are individuals, but the Scriptural passage in this week’s Golden Text provides a very simple motive for living, and, at the same time, offers a definition of life. It is to be spiritually minded. This is life and peace.

Theologian John Gill (1697-1771) offers his view on what it means to be spiritually minded:

…spiritually minded men are the only living persons in a spiritual sense, for all that are in and after the flesh are dead; …spiritually minded men are evidently living persons; they have a spiritual discerning of spiritual things; they breathe after them, savour and relish them; they talk of spiritual things, and walk in a spiritual manner; they are not only alive, but lively in the exercise of grace and discharge of duty; and are the means of enlivening others; and their end will be everlasting life…

How closely would you say the paragraph above describes your way of living? Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible tells us the original Greek definition means: “inclination or purpose,” and “to exercise the mind.” Are you inclined to exercise your mind in a spiritual direction? Spiritual mindedness is strengthened through devoted exercise.

The Amplified Bible translates the first verse of the Responsive Reading like this: “pursue righteousness (right standing with God and true goodness), godliness (which is the loving fear of God and being Christlike), faith, love, steadfastness (patience), and gentleness of heart.”

In order to find eternal life, we can’t be entangled in worldly pursuits. We are soldiers in a state of spiritual warfare. We must fight the “good fight” against the world’s opposition to our faith. Acquisition of riches is a common worldly pursuit. While the attainment of riches may seem to make life easier, they do nothing to move us closer to an understanding of eternal life.

True spiritual riches are found in good works. Such gains aren’t hoarded or accumulated, but widely distributed; thus becoming a foundation upon which we build a strong understanding that allows us to lay hold of eternal life. As common as the pursuit of worldly riches is to the materially minded, the spiritually inclined often caution against the pursuit of worldly riches. A case in point is theologian, Albert Barnes (1798-1870) who writes: “Property really makes no distinction in the great things that pertain to character and salvation, It does not necessarily make one wise, or learned, or great, or good. In all these things, the man who has not wealth may be vastly the superior of him who has; and for so slight and unimportant a distinction as gold can confer, no man should be proud.”

Rather than storing up riches, the scriptures urge us to focus on spiritual mindedness, and holy service as a sure foundation not only as a benefit to our present experience but, as a foundation for eternal life as well.

The psalmist was aware of the ups and downs of human experience and some Bible commentators feel that the reference to “lovingkindness in the daytime” refers to good times of prosperity. Likewise, “in the night,” refers to times of trial. But even then, God is still with us meeting our need. When times get tough, some are tempted to blame it on God, and turn from Him. But the psalmist doesn’t complain about his challenges. He continues to have hope, and praises God who is the “health of [his] countenance.” That is, his continual hope in God is visible in the look on his face. [W's PS#1]

Section 1: Where Do You Dwell?

The children of Israel often had no fixed habitation. Matthew Poole (1624-1679) mentions that the children of Israel had been without a homeland for four hundred years. But they found a dwelling place in God (B1). Even before the world was, our place in God has been safe and secure. If you think about it from a temporal perspective, the phrase “before the mountains were brought forth” implies pre-existence. But to take it a step further, our unchanging place with God is in the ever-present reality of existence—therefore pre-dating, and preempting entirely the belief of life in matter.

Our life isn’t upheld or supported by a fleshly body. Our soul, or being, is held in God who is Life itself (B2). All those before us have trusted in God’s deliverance and unlike the transitory nature of worldly protections, our position with God is everlasting (B3). God’s care exceeds all human expectations. We can always trust Him. Life exists independent of time, and flows from an inexhaustible source. The psalmist uses the metaphors of a fountain, and light to describe the never-ending, and all-encompassing nature of divine Life (B4). A fountain means living water flowing from an unlimited source of supply, as distinguished from waters collected in a pond or reservoir. Likewise, as light effortlessly fills all space, God’s living presence preserves and empowers all that exists.

Our Leader completely accepts the biblical descriptions of God as ”Life, Truth, and Love” (S1). She reasons, that if Life is God, it must be “eternal, self-existent” (S2). Remember that “eternal” does not mean an ongoing human timeline. Eternal means: completely outside, and independent of time. Since God is self-existent—the “everlasting I AM” there is no way God, who is Life itself, can be confined in a finite material form (S3). The understanding of God as the only Life is a direct contradiction to every theory that equates what appears to be material life with God. We lose the true sense of His power if we hold to such theories (S4). The only way to truly understand Life is to lift our thought above all material conceptions (S5). This understanding naturally gives us a clearer sense of our own eternal nature. And the more we understand, the more we can demonstrate the same trust declared by the psalmist (S6).

Section 2: The “Flesh” Has Nothing to Do with Who We Are

Elihu’s words to Job, “ The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life” (B5), imply that the same God that gave the first breath to man gives life to all. God is our animating Principle. Since this is true, why would we ever fear what flesh can do to us? (B6). This strong stand is possible to those who are spiritually minded. In his letter to the Romans Paul warns against minding “things of the flesh” (B7). John Calvin (1509-1564) said that “minding” means, “thinking, imagining, and caring.” So “minding the things of the flesh” is comparable to “imagining” the things of the flesh. Therefore, the flesh only exists in a carnal imagination. Paul also tells us materially minded thinking leads to death, while spiritually minded thinking leads to life (B7). Albert Barnes elaborates further on what it means to be spiritually minded. It is: “making [Spirit] the object of the mind, the end and aim of the actions, to cultivate the graces of the Spirit, and to submit to his influence.” He goes on to say that the carnal mind doesn’t merely deny God, but includes active hostility against Him. “Enmity against God” is an active abhorrence to all that God is and represents. Therefore “enmity against God” is ultimately enmity against Life.

True Christians are more at home with God than with the body (B8). Being at “present” with the Lord means to be in company you’re familiar with. Living absent from the Lord within the body is like living among strangers.

Paul’s well-known statement made on Mars Hill (B9 and PS#3) struck what Albert Barnes called, “a strong, decisive stroke against the whole system of the Grecian idolatry.” God is not only incapable of being confined in temples; He is also incapable of being confined within a fleshly form. Every time I research verse 28 of Acts 17, I am surprised so many scholars try to find a way around Paul’s words. Mrs. Eddy took them at face value. “In him we live, and move, and have our being.” What could be clearer than that? We simply do not live in a body! We live in God.

Our textbook tells us, “Life is, always been, and ever will be independent of matter” (S7). Mrs. Eddy tells us the belief of life in matter is “self-imposed,” and the result of our minding the flesh, more than the Spirit (S8). She also explains that what we call a material body is nothing more than an expression of a belief in a material mind (S9). The body isn’t a dwelling place. Nor can it contain, or support life. The body is only a thought—and a misguided one at that. Rather than life being “in” the body, the body is “in” thought. What happens to it is the result of the thoughts we entertain about it. The false belief of life contained in a body is so flimsy that even a single moment of clarity brings healing. If in this “single moment” we understand that “Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, — neither in nor of matter, …the body will then utter no complaints” (S10). It’s essential to understand that the belief of life in a body, and our true divine Life are “entirely separate” from each other. Understanding this gives us healing authority.

Section 3: Never Allow Sense Testimony to Convince You to Quit [PS#4]

Jesus exercised this healing authority as a natural consequence of his conscious oneness with God. He knew the way to life everlasting (B11). But that’s not as easy for the rest of us. Sometimes the evidence of disease seems so real that we are tempted to concede defeat. The psalmist must have been familiar with this temptation. But he realizes succumbing to sickness and death won’t get him anywhere. He wonders, “What good will my dying do? How can I praise God when I’m dead?” (B10). Barnes puts it this way, “What profit or advantage would there be to thee if I should die? What would be gained by it?” Sometimes mortal mind tries to find rational reasons that would convince us to throw in the towel and capitulate to death. But we too, can ask, “What would be gained by it? The psalmist is right. Succumbing to disease and death never praises God. On the contrary, God can turn our mourning into dancing, and replace that sackcloth of suffering and despair with gladness. Then we will be able to praise God to the fullest.

Jesus never gave in, or accepted the arguments of the physical body for himself, or for anyone else. A case in point is the woman with the issue of blood (B12 & PS#5). To human sense, this woman was bent physically and spiritually low. She’d endured illness for a long time, and had no help from materially based efforts. She was out of funds, and at a very low point. Looking at her outward condition, some might say she would have been justified to just give up. But she didn’t. She sought, and fought for healing, working her way through a multitude of obstacles, and reaching out for the slightest touch of the Christ. Her call for help did not go unanswered.

Jesus exemplified what is possible when eternal life is understood. He knew better than to examine matter, or look for material causes. He knew that it made no difference how bad a picture mortal mind was painting. He knew that God is the only Life (S12). He also taught his followers to turn their focus away from the physical condition saying, “Take no thought for your life” (S13).

Our Leader as well, teaches us to look away from bodily conditions, and to be unafraid because the body has no power to give life, or take it (S14). Her spiritual method is the opposite of the medical approach, which bases its conclusions on what the body is or isn’t doing. Medical belief supposes that the body acts on its own, when the fact is a person’s belief produces disease and its symptoms (S15). Even the parameters that determine what is considered to be healthy or diseased conditions are nothing but the result of belief. These parameters are modified every time the beliefs about them change (S16). In Christian Science we learn that matter never sustains existence, nor destroys our Life. This frees us from false belief, and as our consciousness improves, enabling us to conquer the belief of life in matter, a better body results (S17).

Section 4: The Sense of Life that Knows No Death

To human sense death seems to be final, and those who have appeared to die seem beyond reach. The gospel suggests that the voice of Christ is able to reach those who are either dead in sin, or those actually in the grave (B13). A case in point is that of Jairus’ daughter. Jairus certainly must have had a strong hope that Jesus could help him. His initial plea was to prevent his daughter’s death. We can only imagine how he must have felt when he was told his daughter was already dead. Jesus dismissed that belief, and encouraged him to set aside all fear, and only believe. Those at the scene were completely taken in by the picture. When Jesus said she was not dead they “laughed him to scorn.” Jesus sent all the doubters out of the room, and called her to life. [See W's PS#6]

Theologian Adam Clarke (c. 1760-1832), views Jairus’ approach to Jesus as a template for all prayer. First, we place ourselves in the presence of God. Second, we humble ourselves sincerely before Him. Third, we open our hearts earnestly. Fourth, We should have unbounded confidence in the power and goodness of Christ to heal.

Putting one’s self in Jairus’ shoes, it’s easy to imagine the anguish he felt when he thought it was too late for Jesus to help him. {see poem Download.] The apparent finality of death seems an insurmountable barrier. Our textbook points out that when confronted by impending death, there seems to be no remedy (S18). In such a situation fear seems almost a natural reaction. Jesus’ first response to the news of the girl’s death was to quell Jairus’ fear (S19). How could he do that with such confidence? He knew that Life is real, and death is the illusion (S20). The Discoverer of Christian Science had complete confidence in Jesus’ authority over death, and his promise that we could overcome it as well. In fact, she says it’s our privilege to prove Jesus’ promise regarding victory over death. We do that by eliminating our trust in material means and methods, and by refraining from allowing the evidence of the material senses to dictate reality to us. When Mrs. Eddy prayed, she didn’t attempt to change a material condition. She dismissed the sense evidence even as Jesus dismissed the doubters who laughed at him. She knew that man is always perfect and immortal. Her views weren’t merely theoretical. She proved them in her healing practice.

Evil, disease, sin, and death are not real conditions, but material beliefs that diminish in proportion to our spiritual growth (S21). Mrs. Eddy’s practical proof of the power of Life over death led her to conclude that death itself is no more than an illusion, and that “to the real man and the real universe there is no death-process” (S22). She teaches that keeping the spiritual model of man in our thoughts, lets in the light, and brings “Life, not death into [our] consciousness” (S23).

Section 5: How Do I Get There?

Keeping the “perfect model” before our thoughts coincides with the command in Proverbs to “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance…for out of it flow the springs of life” (The Amplified Bible), (B15). Jesus taught that following the commandments out of mere obligation isn’t enough. We need to have our hearts in it, and be willing to let go of material things. A man came to Jesus asking for direction how to obtain eternal life (B16). He had kept all the commandments throughout his life, but Jesus asked him to do one more thing. He still needed to sell his possessions and give them to the poor, and then he would be free to follow Jesus. Evidently this was too much to ask, and the man turned and left. Peter mentions that the disciples had left all, and Jesus acknowledges that those who give up earthly things will be rewarded spiritually.

Does Jesus’ command seem too big of a thing to ask? Mrs. Eddy virtually asks us the same question. “Dost thou love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind?” This means surrendering all materially based thinking and desires (S24). Repeatedly, Science and Health emphasizes the importance of spiritualizing our thought in order to affect spiritual advancement (S25). The fact is we simply can’t love God while putting material things first in our lives (S26). This isn’t a choice. Mrs. Eddy says we “must forsake” not only the material things, but also the very foundation of materially based thinking. She invites us to yield up all personal sense, and let all the beautiful qualities of Spirit wash away sin, disease, and death (S27).

The man questioning Jesus turned away because Jesus’ response wasn’t compatible with his personal views. This is still a common tendency today. People tend to look for a theology that will adapt to them, rather than adapting their lives to the demands of Truth. Mrs. Eddy says we really don’t have a choice. There’s only one way to find heaven. “It is to know no other reality—to have no other consciousness of life—than good, God and His reflection…” (S28). That’s both very simple, and quite challenging. But it’s a challenge that’s definitely worth it.

Section 6: Eternal Life Is Now

In Section 2 we saw how becoming conscious for a single moment that life is purely spiritual has the potential to bring healing. That’s because, as we’ve discovered in previous Lessons, time is a mortal illusion. The only moment is now. It’s tempting however, to think of “everlasting life” as living forever in some human form as thousands of years go by. But, time isn’t a factor in eternity. “A day with the Lord is as a thousand years” (B17). “Forever” to God is right now. Continually abiding in the Christ, and in God—that’s the eternal life Jesus promised (S18).

Our textbook underscores that, “One moment of divine consciousness…is a foretaste of eternity” (S29). Nothing can say it plainer than that. There is nothing but the eternal now, and that’s where we live. And like Christ, it’s, “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (S30). This life is realized as we become spiritually minded, and find the peace that encompasses eternity.

Click for Warren Huff’s additions of insights and healing application ideas by Cobbey Crisler on some citations in the Christian Science Bible Lesson on “Life” for January 21, 2018.

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Maintenance Musts Progress! (More info)

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