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Let the Christ lift you up from all the dusty downers of “Adam and Fallen Man”!
Application Ideas on the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson for May 7, 2006
by Julie Ward, C.S., Westwood, MA

Editor’s Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp.

GOLDEN TEXT – Be lifted off the dust-to-dust, womb-to-tomb treadmill.
Sometimes people tend to avoid the “Adam and Fallen Man” lesson because they see it as a downer, reminding them that man is “fallen” – a sinner and a failure. Actually, just the opposite is true. This lesson lifts off the scholastic theology that casts man in the “Adam” mold, stuck on a dust-to-dust, womb-to-tomb treadmill. Our Golden Text begins, “Many there be that say of my soul, There is no help for him in God….” Sadly, this is true. Many equate treatment through prayer to wishful thinking or denial. We shouldn’t be naïve about that, but should know that human opinion – no matter how widespread – can’t hinder our treatments. But there is a second part to this Golden Text: “But thou, O lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” It’s a wonderful thing to think of lifting up your head. It implies confidence, dignity, freedom, beauty. God lifts up our heads by revealing to us the perfection of our spiritual identity. Man is no longer a downtrodden mortal – pushed around by external circumstances. He is the child of God. As you read the lesson, look for all the references to “lift up.”

RESPONSIVE READING – The lifting begins here.
Even if our enemies (never persons, but suggestions) seem to rejoice over our fall, our stand is, “When I fall, I shall arise.” Jesus knew that all true glory belongs to God, and that man reflects that glory. He said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” Because he lived a perfect example of life “lifted up from the earth” (the mistaken assumption that God made man of the dust of the ground), he draws us all upward, above the mist of mortality. This upward attraction, this continuous lifting, is called the Christ.

SECTION I – Two views of creation
The lesson opens with condensed versions of the two creation accounts from Genesis (B1). In the first account, man is made in God’s own image, and God pronounces His whole creation a success – “Behold, it was very good.” The second account, written by a different author at a different time, gives a very different view. As you know, this account begins with the word “but”, – as if every statement of good could be somehow qualified. Isn’t it interesting to see how often that little word gets us in trouble? How often do we say, “I know that God is all, but….” I once read an article about a family who had this rule: “No yehbuts!” This is a very good rule to apply in our prayers.

Next, mist arises “from the earth,” a mist that obstructs clear vision. I once heard a child use the term “mistunderstanding.” In a way, that’s what this entire account is all about. In this “mistunderstood” view, God makes man of the dust of the ground (matter) and then breathes Spirit into this material container. Isn’t this how most of the world sees man, as a clod of matter with a bit of Spirit thrown in? When matter becomes the medium for Spirit, we run into all sorts of problems.

Now things go from bad to worse as the Lord causes a “deep sleep” to fall on Adam, while he removes a rib with which to create woman. Did you notice that it never tells us that Adam awoke? Is it possible that all of material existence is just the dream we experience in that deep sleep? But the lesson continues (B4), “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; Shake thyself from the dust.” And that is what we’re going to do as we study this lesson – wake up and shake off the dust!

Spirit makes us all “superior to the soil.” (S&H 4) “Knowledge of this LIFTS man above the soil, above earth and its environments, to conscious spiritual harmony and eternal; being.” As Spirit lifts us “above earth and its environments,” all environmental problems will be healed. “Life is, always has been, and ever will be independent of matter;” (S&H 6) This isn’t just some theoretical version of Life – it’s your Life today, INDEPENDENT OF MATTER. Now there’s a real Declaration of Independence.

SECTION II – Cain and Abel – the result of belief in a false creation.
As you know, Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve. You could think of them as the next step in false reasoning about creation. First, man is made of the dust of the ground. Then woman is made of spare parts. Then the two get together and buy into the belief that man creates man. Bad news! Here’s the first case of sibling rivalry. If the very creation of man is based in finiteness, then he’s always in a state of competition. In the story, Abel is a keeper of sheep, and he brings the firstlings of his flock as an offering to God. Cain is a tiller of the ground (reminding us of the curse on Adam in Gen. 3:17-19). God is not so pleased with his offering. (This may be the first suggestion that God plays favorites, a suggestion that has been widely accepted ever since.). In anger and jealousy, Cain tries to solve his problem by killing Abel. When God asks him what he’s done, he replies with a question that is widely used in other contexts today, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” What do you think?

Cain’s punishment is an echo of Adam’s, but with an added twist: “When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.” Have you ever felt like “a fugitive and a vagabond”? Have you ever felt restless, unsatisfied, unsettled? Have you ever felt that your work never quite comes to fruition? This is the belief that man is made from finite matter, and must ever be “on the run” from his basic sinful nature. What’s the solution? “If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles. For then shalt thou LIFT UP thy face without spot.” (B7) Just a note here – iniquity comes from a Latin root that means “unequal.” So iniquity isn’t just about doing evil things. It includes any claim that God’s love is partial.

Mrs. Eddy says, “The belief of life in matter sins at every step.” (S&H 10) Why? Because it’s a false premise, and every conclusion that springs from it must be false. If we don’t want to sin at every step – if we don’t want to live the life of a fugitive and a vagabond, – we must start from a new premise. We must know that man doesn’t create life, so man can’t take it away. (S&H 9) At the end of this section, we have a specific instruction from Mrs. Eddy. Speaking of the fact that, “Mortals are not fallen children of God,” she says, “Learn this, O mortal, and earnestly seek the spiritual status of man, which is outside of all material selfhood.” (S&H 11) Do we do this? Do we (when not at camp) earnestly seek the spiritual status of man every single day and every single hour (like we do when we are at CedarS)?

SECTION III – Don’t look at the dust – look up!
In a sense, the story of Hagar and Ishmael continues the line of thinking that begins with the premise that Life is limited. It’s another case of sibling rivalry, but it has a decidedly different ending. Why? Because the focus has shifted away from the dust. In the opening Psalm (B8), there is a prayer that we should pray constantly, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” It continues, “Thou art my portion, O Lord.” The portion, then, is ALL. It’s indivisible.

Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, had to learn about indivisible goodness when she and her son Ishmael were sent away from Abraham’s house and into the desert. (B10) Abraham had God’s promise that the child would not be harmed, and he trusted that promise (See the definition of Abraham in the Glossary, 579:10-14). Just as he did with Isaac, Abraham had to trust his son to God’s care and give up a personal sense of parenthood. He gave Hagar some bread and water and sent her into the wilderness of Beersheba (Remember the definition of wilderness? 597:16) When the water was spent, Hagar believed that the child would surely die. But a wonderful thing happened. Instead of hearing the sound of Hagar’s weeping, God “heard the voice of the lad where he is.” He didn’t have to get out of the wilderness to be heard!

The angel of God told Hagar, “Arise, LIFT UP the lad…” She had to lift up her sense of his origin. “And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water…” The well had been there all along, but her eyes were closed because she was looking at the mortal model instead of looking at the child of God’s creating, who is always beautiful and complete. “God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and RISING HIGHER AND HIGHER from a boundless basis.” (S&H 12) It’s the boundless basis that makes all the difference.

Mrs. Eddy promises, “The divine Mind that made man maintains His own image and likeness.” (S&H 14) The word “maintain” comes from a Latin root that means “to hold in the hand.” Isn’t it wonderful to know that He never lets us go, that we are always in the palm of His hand? She also writes, “Science inevitably LIFTS one’s being higher in the scale of harmony and happiness.”(S&H 17) Isn’t it great to know that it is inevitable?

SECTION IV – God lifts up the meek and the humble.
Every Bible citation in this section has a reference to lifting up. The surprise is that those who are lifted up are the lowly – the meek, the humble, the obedient. King Jehoshaphat was a great example. “His heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord.” (B13) If you are feeling downhearted or heavy-hearted, let your heart be lifted up in the ways of the Lord.

In (S&H 19), there are two questions implied, questions that we all must face. The first is, do I “progress slowly for fear of being thought ridiculous”? Are we afraid of the derision of those who think that spiritual healing is a sham or that spirituality equals naïveté? The second question is, Are we “slaves to fashion, pride, and sense”? That’s a tough one! Maybe the better question here is, How can I be less afraid of human opinion, less of a slave to fashion, pride, and sense?

SECTION V – Jesus healed by lifting up.
Christ Jesus “threw upon mortals the truer reflection of God, and LIFTED their lives higher than their poor thought-models would allow – thoughts which presented man as fallen, sick, sinning, and dying.” (S&H 22) His healing of the young man who had a dumb and deaf spirit (B17) was a perfect example. Here was a classic case of poor thought-models. Since he was a child, this claim had seemed to run his life, always threatening to destroy him. It must have seemed like such an established pattern that it had become hypnotic to him and to his father. When Jesus rebuked the demon, the mental chemicalization was so great that it seemed to have killed the boy. “But Jesus took him by the hand, and LIFTED HIM UP; and he arose.” He lifted his life above the poor thought-models that had held him hostage all those years. He lifted him up to the divine standard of perfection – “perfect God and perfect man.” (S&H 22) We can ask ourselves, Is “perfect God and perfect man” MY basis of thought and demonstration, or am I just trying to fix up a flawed mortal?

There are some potent rules for healing in (S&H 24): (1) Forsake discord (Don’t wait for it to forsake you!), (2) Acknowledge the supremacy of divine Mind, (3) Abandon material beliefs, (4) LIFT thought above error, or disease, (5) Contend persistently for truth. What others can you find in this section? We can follow Jesus’ example in UPLIFTING the race, knowing well that, ” The necessity for uplifting the race is father to the fact that Mind can do it;…” (S&H 25) This job is not too big for us – “Mind can do it”!

SECTION VI – The choice is ours – Adam or Christ?
What kind of thought-models will we choose? Every single thought we think is either an Adam-based thought or a Christ-based thought (B19, S&H 26)). Every Adam thought – every thought based on limitation, chance, change, or human will – leads toward death And every Christ thought – every thought that stems from the omnipotence and omnipresence of Good – leads to eternal life. It’s good to stop and ask yourself often, “Was that an Adam thought or a Christ thought?” Every Adam thought is based on the testimony of material sense. It judges “after the flesh.” Every Christ thought comes from spiritual sense, and acknowledges its perfect origin. Jesus said, “I know whence I came, and whither I go.” (B18) Can we say that? Yes! We know that we didn’t begin with the dust of the ground, and we’re never going back to it. We come from God, and inevitably go to Him, for He is All. We can acknowledge that man is “unfallen, upright, pure, and free.” (S&H 29) And our hearts will sing with, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (B19)

Camp Director’s Note: The above sharing is the latest in a long series of CedarS Bible Lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms. * Originally sent JUST to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson “mets” are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson in the books. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The citations referenced in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one. We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.)

Warren Huff, Director             

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