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Let our days manifest Spirit’s harvest!
Metaphysical application ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible lesson on

 “Spirit”
for August 2-8, 2021

 By Kerry Jenkins, C.S., from House Springs, MO
kerry.helen.jenkins@gmail.com • 314-406-0041

INTRODUCTION

 For many of us, this synonym for God most often used in the Bible still feels a bit mysterious. This Bible lesson shines a light on how Spirit can be seen and expressed visibly in human experience. Spirit is what animates or makes the real, spiritual man, alive! “What gives life is God’s Spirit; human power is of no use.” This is the Good News translation of John 6:63 (to:)/citation B11, and most translations of this verse are quite similar! We tend to get the most accurate picture of man when we look to Spirit for our answers about man.

Our human senses, the five physical senses, are not reliable indicators or conveyors of the true nature of God’s goodness, presence and power. It is spiritual sense, that which is within each of us, that best informs us of the peace, power, beauty, joy, intelligence, and so on that make up the truth of man’s existence. These qualities are visible to us here and now, especially as we strive to lean toward God/Spirit in all that we do.

The “fruits” of Spirit that are listed in our Golden Text as: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (The New Living Translation—NLT), are qualities that we can demonstrate and see expressed all around us right where we are in our human experience. They are not “too spiritual”, or “too lofty” for mankind to demonstrate! These are the animating qualities, the evidence, of Spirit’s presence, power, and reality.

GOLDEN TEXT/RESPONSIVE READING
(Gal.5:22, 23 Isa. 57:14, 15,19 61:1; Eph. 4:1-4,31,32):

“There is no law against these things!” We are told this in this same NLT version of Gal. 5:23! There are no barriers to the expression of Spirit. No situation so dire that we cannot be loving, at peace, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, have self-control, and even be joyful! There are thousands of records of those who have experienced these qualities, the active presence of Spirit in their lives even in prison, in war camps, when struggling through the many trials of human existence.

The key to experiencing these “fruits of Spirit”, at least in part, seems to lie in the Responsive Reading. It is in humility, meekness, contrition, patience, broken-heartedness—it is when we have lost our faith in matter’s ability to provide for us in any consistent or satisfying way—that we find the presence of Spirit to be tangible.

These fruits of Spirit are demonstrated within the context of community (Paul here is speaking to the community of Christian church). In other words, it is meaningless if we are not actually rubbing elbows with other people of all sorts—people who may not agree with us, even with our most deeply held beliefs. We cannot demonstrate these qualities of Spirit in a meaningful way unless we are expressing love to all in a “tenderhearted” way. It is in this humble, meek state, that we are “revived”, or given fresh life! This is the animation of Spirit.

 

SECTION 1: SPIRIT IS WHERE WE FIND OUR IDENTITY—the I AM THAT I AM.

One of the things many of us learn in Christian Science Sunday School, is to apply the statement “I AM THAT I AM” to ourselves. No, we are not God, but, because we reflect God/Spirit, any statement we make about ourselves must also be true about God. So, if we say “I am tired”, that would have to apply to the ever lively, alert, active, divine Spirit. Since it doesn’t, we might revise that statement about ourselves, using it as an opportunity not to blandly deny our current feelings, but to engage in a genuine, restful prayer of acknowledgement of Spirit’s presence, vigor, power, of the very breath of Spirit that animates us! This is not a burdensome thing, as I have heard some complain. Yes, it requires us to put up a fight against the barrage of material sense testimony. But what is the alternative? Sometimes we may be able to solve such an issue with a short nap, or better sleep schedule, but if that is not the case, we are burdened much more greatly with just being exhausted, emotionally unstable (because of that exhaustion), making mistakes that might be chalked up to exhaustion, and so on. Are these things not more of a burden to our lives than a pause to acknowledge the government of the all-good, vitalizing power of Spirit?

A statement in citation S3/252:15-18, 31-8 gives us a contrasting pair of viewpoints, the viewpoint of the false evidence of material sense, versus the testimony of Spirit. Where do we want to look for a sense of our true identity? Spiritual sense is how we discern Spirit’s presence and activity. Spiritual sense is how we discern what is true about our own identity.

 

SECTION 2: TO SEE WHAT IS TRUE, LOOK TO SPIRIT.

We must be discerning. This is true in all walks of life. Even with things as simple as to observe the sunrise and sunset, we cannot simply believe what we observe! We cannot just accept at face value what we see and read, or hear. We have to do our research! When we are endeavoring to understand the things of Spirit, we have to be willing to do spiritual “research.”  This might look like going to our Pastor, the Bible, and Science and Health with key to the Scriptures. It may look like reading our Bible lesson or reading/listening to our periodicals. But even with all of that, spiritual research involves listening to Spirit in stillness.

Job tells us “There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” (cit. B4/Job ) This spirit, or animating force of Spirit, is within each of us, it gives us understanding of what is true, and what is false. But we do have to make the space in our busy lives to listen. When deadlines loom and we start to feel anxiety creeping in, a sense of dread, even of something like heading back to school after an amazing summer, we can look to that spiritual sense that is within each of us for a true assessment of Spirit’s goodness at hand.

Any sense of dread or anxiety is rooted in a personal sense of responsibility, rather than in knowing that all good comes from Spirit. Dread of a particular event or time is based in the belief that Spirit’s goodness and presence will not be as tangible to us then, as it might be now. These are some of the “evil beliefs” spoken about in citation B6/1John 4:1,6,13 and dealt with in citation S7/428:8-12,19. We can tell whether we are entertaining a true sense of things by what we find ourselves conscious of. Are we conscious of beauty, love, goodness, peace? If so, then we are looking to Spirit to give us the “…true mental idea.” (cit. S9/467:26-27)

 

SECTION 3: PEACE AND POWER COME THROUGH LOVING GOD SUPREMELY.

King David is a great example of someone who was animated by Spirit, who put God first. He had his lapses, for sure, but by all accounts, he deeply desired to do the will of God. In this section we have a short story of a time when David was on the run from King Saul. His desire to put God first, to love God with all his heart, soul, and might as stated in citation B7/Deut. 6:4,5, is demonstrated here when David invites peace, and alliance with another tribe against Saul’s irrational hatred of him.

There were several opportunities (not in this Bible lesson) where David could have killed Saul who was hunting him down, but David would not harm him, in obedience to God’s law. This section is bringing to our attention the power we have when we put God first and love Spirit above all else, put aside our personal desires, to check with what might be God’s will first. Mary Baker Eddy says that the First Commandment is her favorite text. (cit. S11/340:16) She then lists what it means to man. One way that I pray with this paragraph is to put “One infinite God, good” in front of each thing that she lists as God’s doing. It looks like this:

“One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; one infinite God, good, constitutes the brotherhood of man; one infinite God, good, ends wars; one infinite God, good, fulfills the Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,”; one infinite God, good, annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry,; one infinite God, good, annihilates whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; one infinite God, good, equalizes the sexes; one infinite God, good, annuls the curse on man; and one infinite God, good, leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.” (modified cit. S11/340:16) I just feel this brings more attention to what God does!

I am also inspired by this section to ask myself, when it seems like Good’s power is lacking: “How am I loving God supremely?”. Am I harboring fear, which is the opposite of Love? Am I staying present with Love in this moment? Or, am I looking forward to when I’m “over” some particular problem so that I can “get on with my life”? Each of these cases show a lack of “supremely” loving God, or putting Spirit first.

We can question any thought that comes to us that would have us believing that we are powerless against something. Real power always comes from putting God first in our thought and experience. In any assignment we might have, we can acknowledge that Spirit is the inspiration behind our work, and in so doing, we will find that ideas, solutions, words, come to us more freely.

 

SECTION 4: HUMAN EXPERIENCE IS DEEPENED BY SPIRITUALITY.

I do not mean by this, that spirituality is some kind of adjunct to living a fulfilling human life. We cannot truly find satisfaction until we are ready to walk away from looking for this happiness in any material source. We can surely enjoy good relationships, families, activities, careers. But none of these is fulfilling unless we can understand that any true good is animated and derived solely from Spirit. This acknowledgement is naturally accompanied by a deep sense of gratitude to Spirit.

I love how this lesson throughout, emphasizes the way in which Spirit touches us in our human experience, right where we are. In citation S14/99:23 Mary Baker Eddy tells us that “The calm strong currents of true spirituality, the manifestations (fruit!) of which are health, purity, and self-immolation, must deepen human experience, until the beliefs of material existence are seen to be a bald imposition, and sin, disease, and death give everlasting place to the scientific demonstration of divine Spirit and to God’s spiritual, perfect man.”

I find that the “spiritual living” that is spoken of in citation S15/264:24 is something that we can and must do daily, hourly, minutely, in order to feel that deep peace that we want to feel at the end of any day. When a day goes by where we don’t feel that peace, and we all have these, this is merely an opportunity to sit quietly and thank Spirit, the Spirit within each of us, for the presence that we know was there throughout the day, the beauty that did unfold, the truth about our nature that we might have overlooked in the hustle of the day. This is the only way we can still the dissatisfaction that can threaten our peace, and the only way to keep such a day from repeating itself! [W: Groundhog Day style.]

Our peace and joy are not dependent on our accomplishments, no matter what society screams to us. They are not founded on how much money we make, or what friends and family we have. Rather, our peace is founded on unchanging Spirit, and on our recognition of the Spirit within throughout each day, bringing out the “fruit” of Spirit in our daily experience.

 

SECTION 5: CONSCIOUSNESS OF LIFE IN SPIRIT IS PEACE.

Jesus was not in a storm when the disciples woke him from sleep in the back of the ship. (cit. B15/Mark 4:37-39)  The disciples were experiencing a storm, but Jesus was not sleeping “through” it. He was not experiencing it at all! This was not because, as one might think, he was “too spiritually minded” to notice a storm. His consciousness was experiencing spiritual reality in which all power belongs to Spirit, not forces of nature.

When Jesus calmed the storm, he was actually revealing to the disciples the peace and calm of Spirit that is reigning at all times. This is what is really happening with healing. We are not changing physical laws. We are recognizing the power and presence of Spirit and Spirit’s animating force in each of us as Spirit’s reflection. There is a good example of this kind of healing in the Science and Health portion of this section, where Mary Baker Eddy heals a woman of consumption. (cit. S18/184:27) The woman’s health did not reside either in a material law of wind direction, nor in the seemingly more sophisticated law of disease. Her health always resided in her nature as Spirit’s idea.

Even in such things as personal finance, there is no human law of income and outgo that is supreme over Spirit’s laws of supply and demand. We can find our peace regarding this as we acknowledge that our safety, security, health, livelihood, springs from infinite Spirit. We are not dependent on a paycheck, or on charity, but on divine abundance. It is helpful to remember that all that we earn is actually from infinite Spirit and not from our own hard work, or from any other source.

When we acknowledge that all good is abundant and infinite, we find we have what we need, when we need it, whether it’s a roof over our heads, or our next meal, or just an answer to an important question we are trying to solve, Spirit can be relied upon to supply us with what we need.

When my husband needed to move on from one of his former businesses, the economy inconveniently crashed just as he left that work. For many months we could not make our mortgage payment, and just were able to supply the regular needs of our family. We communicated regularly with bill collectors, but the mortgage company in particular seemed difficult to work with, as they would send back any partial payments we sent, accepting only full ones. We had two kids in college, and three young sons, one newborn just as Doug left his job. But the prevailing atmosphere in our home was one of expectation of good.

We had seen how Spirit had filled our family with love, joy, and good, and we were not ready to fall prey to fear and worry. I cannot say I was never tempted to be concerned, but truly, I had had many experiences before this that pointed to the source of our good being in Spirit. We focused our consciousness on spiritual reality which is abundant in good and not dependent on economy, savings, or human wisdom. There was no one dramatic moment in the many months that followed.

The bank declared that they would foreclose on our home, despite our constant communications. But even this was resolved through a generous and unexpected loan that was paid back over a couple of years. Not every healing comes as a “moment” of realization. Spiritual living is a constant unfoldment of spiritual consciousness. Sometimes it is our desire to have things turn out in a “certain way” that will prevent our being conscious of the present abundance of Spirit.  When we find ourselves telling God how something needs to take place, we can recognize that this is our opportunity to wait on Spirit. “The calm and exalted thought or spiritual apprehension is at peace.” (cit. S21/506:10-12)

 

SECTION 6: SPIRIT ANIMATES US, NOT MORTAL MIND.

Jesus’ healing of the insane man is like a mortal mind equivalent of the storm at sea (cit. B18/Luke 8:27-35 and cit. B15/Mark 4:37-39). This man’s thought was full of turmoil and disturbance. Just as the storm was an experience of mortal consciousness for the disciples, this man’s insanity was not a reality, but an experience of mental disturbance that was healed by Jesus’ recognition of this man’s true nature. In so doing, he caused the insane man to glimpse his own true nature as well, and this freed him from this tumultuous life, gave him peace and self-control (two of the “fruits of the Spirit” mentioned in the Golden Text).

This insane Gadarene’s  experience was filled with fear, both his own, and the townspeople’s who had chained him up in an attempt to keep him from either hurting himself or others. This handling of fear is addressed in citation S26 as a first step in any Christian Science treatment (411:29). Whenever a disease or circumstance seems unhealed, it is worth considering whether fear has been fully handled.

In this case, the man’s very identity was being questioned by Jesus, who asked him for his name (in the Bible, name is equivalent to identity). This question for many who suffer from mental illness can be deeply disturbing. Who was this man without the label of “insane”? Sometimes mental illness becomes a person’s identity, and it is difficult to imagine a self that is not depressed, addicted, angry, etc.

It is worth asking the question “who am I?”. And it is worth asking if the great I AM can be expressed as anything helpless, victimized, angry. The answer being “no”, then we must hasten to find out who we are as Spirit’s reflection. We have to fill the seeming void left by a “negative” of “I am not”, with “I am”. One place to start is with Mary Baker Eddy’s statement: “I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existence.” (My. 165:18)  Our mental stability does not arise from our brain chemicals, from our environment, or from our genetics. It is founded on the rock of Truth. It is Spirit that animates us, gives us life and being and intelligence.

 

SECTION 7: WE HAVE THE SPIRIT OF GOD HERE.

We are not looking somewhere for the fruits of the spirit. Paul tells us, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (cit. B20/1st Cor. 2:12). Right here and now, each moment, each day, Spirit is unfolding its vibrant presence through our patience, kindness, faithfulness, love, self-control and so on. We can reach higher each day for a more spiritually accurate view that includes peace, steady joy, health, stability. These insights into our present spiritual nature deepen our current human experience, allowing us to glimpse more and more of Spirit’s abundance, and our own nature as Spirit’s ideas. This is our true identity. This is what we are animated by. Our identity is a spiritually satisfied, joyful one. It is accessible to us now.



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