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“Life and being are of God”!  Experience renewal by living a life aligned with Christ!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Life”
for January 9-15, 2023

by Kathy Fitzer of Lake Saint Louis, MO
kathyfitzer@gmail.com


INTRODUCTION, GOLDEN TEXT, AND RESPONSIVE READING

As you read this week’s Bible Lesson, you might want to notice not only how many references there are to life being God — forever new and eternal — but also how to experience a sense of freshness and renewal as we live a life aligned with Christ.

Jesus revealed, to all mankind, that God’s Kingdom is a present reality.  It is the consciousness in which we live, and that truly constitutes Life.  Through his resurrection, Jesus demonstrated that a human sense of limited and temporal life must yield “to new life with Christ”, as the Golden Text tells us.  We can experience the freedom and dominion Jesus demonstrated as we accept our relationship with God as His spiritual expression, and practice living and thinking as Jesus lived and thought.  The Kingdom of Heaven is not something we have to wait to experience after death. It is not far off— but here and now, ready to be seen and experienced as we accept our status as the children of God, and are willing to be new-born of the Spirit!

I love the way the New Living Translation states the first verse of the Responsive Reading (Colossians 3:12).  It says, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with …”, and it goes on. There is no question as to whether we are God’s holy people.  That is a given.  And, because that is the case, we actually have no choice but to act like God’s beloved children — to “imitate God … in everything [we] do.”  Because we are the beloved children of God, our natural inclination (and truly the natural inclination of all mankind) is to live according to the example of Christ Jesus who came to reveal to us the nature of our Father/Mother God.

Very specific guidelines are given in Colossians and Ephesians as to how we are to imitate God.  We are to be tender and kind and merciful … humble, gentle, and patient.  We are to be understanding of each other, and forgive.  We must “live a life filled with love” and give praise and gratitude to God.  And as we do our best to live this way, God pours his grace — his tender love and mercy — on us.  And we feel the tender presence of Love ever with us, as Jesus did!  This kind of thinking and living challenges the mortal model, and leads to fresh (new) views of Life reflected in life!


SECTION 1: ETERNAL LIFE IS KNOWING GOD AND BEING NEW-BORN OF SPIRIT

Having eternal life isn’t the same as living forever in a mortal body.  Our mortal experience — whether that experience is one of comfort or discomfort — is a counterfeit of the eternal, self-existent “Life [that] is God” (citation S1, 289:32-1). In the gospel of John, we get to listen in on Jesus’ last recorded prayer before he was arrested and crucified.  Bible Commentators have said that prayers like this were often said aloud so that followers could hear.  In this communication with his Father, Jesus realizes that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (cit. B2, John 17:3). Mary Baker Eddy elaborates on this statement by saying that Jesus described “everlasting life as a present knowledge of his Father and of himself, — the knowledge of Love, Truth, and Life” (cit. S2, 410:4-9).  Experiencing a sense of oneness with Life — that can’t be interrupted — comes as we get to know God and His Christ (His practical Truth), at an intimate level.  This involves much more than just knowing about God.

To understand that “Life and being are of God” means we need to give up our mortal misconceptions that say we were born into matter, live an up and down mortal life, and will ultimately die out of matter (cit. S7, 103:31-32).  It certainly looks like those are the facts.  But, right where all of that seems to be, is the Kingdom of God (the realm of eternal harmony) that Jesus demonstrated to be actual reality.

To experience this Kingdom of God here and now we need to follow the instructions Jesus gave to Nicodemus …. We must be “born of water and of the Spirit” (cit. B3, John 3: 1-7). We’ve accepted the born of water part.  That represents the human birth process.  But, to be born of the Spirit requires that we completely shift our focus away from material history and material origins to realize that the only being we’ve ever truly had is as the child of God, the offspring of infinite Spirit, the idea of Mind, the loved of Love.  Living this life means living in accord with the qualities described in the Responsive Reading. Jesus demonstrated how to live this Life.  And, he assured us that we can demonstrate it, too!


SECTION 2:  THE FATHER AND MOTHER OF ALL CONTINUALLY REVEALS NEW VIEWS!

This section gives an example of what it means to be born of the Spirit, and to live in the Spirit.  Hannah desperately wanted a child.  She must have recognized God to be the source of  life, or why ask God for this child?  And, in this desire for a child she must have, at some level, desired to demonstrate God as Source and conquer the lie of barrenness. If her motive was simply to have a child to love and care for, she likely would not have offered to give her son “to the Lord” (cit. B9, I Samuel 1:2,10,11,19,20,27,28).  We know the “end” of the story was that, soon after Hannah promised to give her child to the service of God, she conceived Samuel.  And, we know that Samuel devoted his life to serving in the temple and responding to God. He anointed Israel’s first two kings — Saul and David.
As for Hannah, she went on to have more children — three sons and two daughters (see I Samuel 2:21).  Unselfed giving did not deprive her of being abundantly blessed.  What a beautiful example of trials teaching us not to lean on a material staff.  We lean on God, knowing that “each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love” (cit. S10, 66:6-7,11).  Truly, “with thee [with God] is the fountain of life” (cit. B8, Psalm 36:7,9).  And that fountain flows perpetually!

When we’re tempted to feel frustrated because plans don’t develop as we had hoped they would, we need to remember Hannah.  Is our motive to have our ideas serve God (the law of Good), and thus bless all mankind? More is shared in Section 4 about the “test of all prayer” being the answer to the question, “Do we love our neighbor better because of this asking” (cit. S17, 9:5-24).  Hannah is a wonderful example of this.

And, as we cherish a desire for something to come to fruition, we will also find it helpful to “so detach mortal thought from its material conceptions, that the birth will be natural and safe” (cit. 12, 463:6). “Life and being are of God”!  So, there’s nothing new that needs to be brought to life.  Rather, every good idea is already complete, and already exists Mind.  In each of those good, spiritual ideas there is “not a single element of error” — not one mistake or omission.  Understanding that this is true, “removes properly whatever is offensive” and allows the idea to fully and perfectly develop.  And the development of the idea can “cause the mother no more suffering” (cit. S12, 463:6).  The application of this paragraph with the marginal heading “Scientific obstetrics” has far-reaching application.  It can be applied literally to harmonious child-birth, and extend on to family relations as children grow and eventually become adults.

Love is caring for all … every step of the way.  The same ideas apply to the development (or birth) of any idea — a business, a creative endeavor, a writing project, or even if there is a question about the purpose of one’s life.  We (and everything we do and think) are “His offspring”.  Nothing can separate any of us from the relationship we have with the Father and Mother of all, and the tender relationship this Deity has with His spiritual creation (cit. B8, 332:4). When things seem tough, we just need to turn more of our attention to seeing the “divine goodness and love” that are always here (cit. S10, 66:6-7,11).  Love is a tangible presence and a fountain, bringing forth all there is to Life!


SECTION 3:  PRACTICING HUMILITY AND LOVE — AS JESUS DID — BRINGS HEALING!

The opening words recorded in Jesus’ core teachings, known as the Sermon on the Mount, are: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Being “poor in spirit” is key to experiencing the kingdom of heaven (the reign of harmony) that Jesus spoke so much about, and is also key to Jesus’ ability to heal. So, what does being “poor in spirit” really mean?  In some other versions of the Bible, the phrase is translated as “humble”, “those people who depend only on him”, “at the end of your rope”, “spiritually needy”, or “realize their need for him”.

Over and over, Jesus humbly acknowledged that he couldn’t do anything himself — that the authority for all that he did was “divine Truth, Life, and Love” (cit. S14, 26:10).  Expressing that same kind of humility leads to experiencing the purity of heart that allows us to “see God” — to see the harmony that is the effect of the presence of God. The Amplified Bible expands on the idea of pure in heart as: “those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character” (cit. B11, Matthew 5:1-3,8).

The author of Colossians expands on what qualities of thought are required to be a true disciple of Christ. These include (as already stated in the Responsive Reading): compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love (cit. B12, Colossians 3:12-14).  When this letter was written to the Colossians, some teachers, influenced by Jewish beliefs of “legalism” were putting too much emphasis on following specific rules as a measure of an individual’s faith.  But, as Jesus often pointed out, the rules developed by rabbis (as well as by some Gentile teachers) often became obstacles to following God’s true law of love.

Healing occurs as we awaken to the reality of God’s kingdom.  How do we do that?  Mary Baker Eddy explains that, much more than theoretical words, “the longing to be better and holier, expressed in daily watchfulness and in striving to assimilate more of the divine character, will mould and fashion us anew, until we awake in His likeness” (cit. S15, 4:17-22).

Healing isn’t about praying to fix a particular mortal problem, as much as shaping our views and our thought to align with Christ so that we are able to see the reign of Christ (Truth) and experience the life of harmony that corresponds to life in the Kingdom of God.  The key to achieving anything worth pursuing, is practice.  And this goal of perceiving the perfect creation (and thus experiencing healing) is attainable through such practice (cit. S16, 26-30).


SECTION 4:  EXPERIENCE ETERNAL LIFE AS YOU LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR

The inheritance of eternal life has nothing to do with eating habits or exercise or hereditary factors. Actually, those factors don’t even have anything to do with our human health and longevity. And, we can demonstrate that as we understand that there is only one Life and it is spiritual, and thus eternal.  We experience that Life as we experience Love, expressed as love for God and love for mankind.  It is impossible to separate the two.  We can’t love God unless we love mankind.  And, we can’t effectively truly love mankind unless we are expressing God-like qualities and seeing God’s child in everyone we cross paths with.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is such a great example of the importance Jesus placed on the quality of mercy.  Rather than defining who one’s neighbor is according to pre-defined rules, relationships, or outward appearances, Jesus gave an example of being a neighbor, emphasizing the importance of the merciful actions taken.  The priest and the Levite saw only a mortal — who may or may not have been dead.  They knew they would have been declared unclean, and barred from serving in the temple, if they touched a dead body.  So, they chose not to take that chance!  Self-interest won out over merciful kindness, even to help one of their own.  In contrast, Samaritans and Jews had grown up despising each other as a result of years of bad history between them.  But, the Samaritan didn’t see a Jew, per se.  He simply saw a man in need and felt impelled to respond with love (cit. B14, Luke 10:25-37).

Our world seems to be as divided as ever these days. It is tempting to feel helpless.  And, yet, we have this wonderful imperative in Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures … “It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love.” And the promise follows, “Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established” (cit. S18, 467:9).  Don’t we want to be part of seeing that promise fulfilled?

We certainly can graciously respond to opportunities to physically help when a need arises. But, we always have the opportunity to reach out mentally to those who are going through hard times — who have limited opportunities and resources, who have lost their home or are heartbroken, who feel oppressed for any number of reasons.  It’s a long list.  How are we responding every day? Do we mentally cross to the other side — avoiding the situation — either because we are too self-absorbed with our own lives, feel inadequate to make a difference, or just feel it is “their problem”?  Or, do we follow Jesus’ example of taking divinely inspired, mental and physical action?

Jesus taught us to love God and to love our neighbor.  Mary Baker Eddy says of the command to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind” that “this command includes much, even the surrender of all merely material sensation, affection, and worship. … It involves the Science of Life, and recognizes only the divine control of Spirit, in which Soul is our master, and material sense and human will have no place” (cit. S17, 9:5-24).

As we surrender material affection, we can love everyone unconditionally.  And, as we pray to genuinely feel mercy (compassion and forgiveness) towards everyone — those who are closest to us, as well as strangers — we will be led to how to pray effectively, as well as be led to take appropriate human footsteps to demonstrate unconditional love.


SECTION 5:  EXPERIENCE THE NEWNESS, FRESHNESS, AND STRENGTH OF LIFE

What does it mean to plant ourselves in the house of the Lord — and why should we?  The why is clearly stated … man flourishes there (cit. B17, Psalm 92:13,14).   I was reminded of the spiritual sense of the 23rd Psalm given by Mary Baker Eddy. She calls the “house of the Lord” the “consciousness of Love” (Science and Health 578:16).  So, as thought remains firmly planted in the consciousness of Love, aging and decline are not something to be feared or experienced.  Some translations say “replanted” or “transplanted.”  I kind of like that because it indicates that Love lifts us out of a mortal sense of life, with its varied difficulties, and replants our thought in the realm of Spirit — the realm of harmony — for a new view of where we actually dwell.

Isaiah explains that God — being infinite Spirit (vitality) and infinite Life — could not possibly be exhausted, and in fact gives strength to man — as the sun gives light.  A mortal sense of strength (no matter how hard you have physically trained) always has limitations — is always subject to failure.  But, we are assured that as we trust God (“wait upon the Lord”) to meet every need, we can expect to soar (cit. B18, Isaiah 40:28-31).  As we are “in Christ” — that is, as thought dwells in Truth and we attempt to emulate Jesus in all he taught — we experience ongoing newness and freshness without decline and limitation.

This sense of strength can be expressed literally as physical strength and stamina.  This is illustrated in an article called “New strength for my race to the top; Scaling mountains, powered by God” By John Keith Park, published in the April 12, 1999 Christian Science Sentinel.

https://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/4urmj3gm5w?s=copylink

But, an article by Helen Wood Bauman, titled “From Strength to Strength” in the January 5, 1957 Christian Science Sentinel also makes a beautiful connection of how an expression of love (and many of the qualities brought out in this week’s Bible Lesson) leads to the expression of vigor and strength.  One sentence reads: “The real man knows no deterioration of powers because he knows no departure from real consciousness, which embodies true vigor.”  Shared view links to these articles are included: https://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/29nmv83yncs?s=copylink

I wish I could say that I demonstrate this freedom all the time.  But, I have definitely experienced it.  I remember one time in particular when I was dragging walking up a hill.  The thought came so clearly to me that the Holy Spirit moves me as effortlessly as the wind moves the leaves, and I could respond as naturally.  The freedom I felt was immediate!

The question is, what are we focused on — the limited, mortal model or the unlimited, immortal model?  We read, “Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love — the kingdom of heaven — reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear” (cit. S21, 248:19-32).  Only one model can exist in thought at a time.  Choose what to entertain! The harmony of our existence is determined by “our proportionate admission of the claims of good or of evil” (cit. S22, 167:7).  Let us choose wisely!


SECTION 6: UNITE WITH THE STRUCTURE OF TRUTH AND GENUINE LOVE 

The last citation of the Lesson (cit. S25, 496:9) summarizes what I see as the essence of this week’s message … “We all must learn that Life is God.”  And that means that the only life there is, is eternal Life — forever new and fresh!  It is our privilege to see how that Life is expressing itself humanly in new ways.

We need to refuse to hold on to old models.  Our churches provide a wonderful laboratory for demonstrating the Science of Christianity — the teachings of Christ Jesus — as we work together to serve God and constantly love in fresh, new ways.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For we are partners working together for God, and you are God’s field. You are also God’s building” (cit. B23, I Corinthians 3:9, Good News Translation).  As a farmer cultivates a field to prepare it for seed to take root and grow, Love is cultivating our thought to be the good soil in which the Word of God flourishes.

Think about the care with which our Father-Mother fits every aspect of our being together, like a craftsman constructs a flawless structure.  As we consider church as “the structure of Truth and Love”, we see how natural it is for us to thrive as we “unite with this church … as we are new-born of Spirit” (cit. S24, 35:19-25).  In this sense of Church (which we can take with us wherever we go), there is no stagnation or decline.  New views, revealing ever-present Good, are forever appearing.

Church isn’t just a place we go to check off a box, or to “get” something.  It is an active, living power that “is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick” (Science and Health 583:12-19).  As we unite with this higher sense of Church we can practice all that Jesus taught about loving God and loving our neighbor and being new-born of Spirit.   Love will provide the avenue for a human expression of this consciousness of Church to take form.  But don’t limit what that looks like!

Paul wrote to the Romans: “Salute (greet) one another with an holy kiss” (cit. B21, Romans 16:16).  This is something we should certainly do within church walls, but as we think of church as this structure of Truth and Love that exists everywhere, it also applies to how we greet everyone we meet.  A holy kiss has been translated as simply a warm greeting.  But, it occurred to me that, more than that, it is seeing everyone we meet (including ourselves) as holy — as complete, God-like and new-born.

How often are we tempted to view others (or ourselves) based on preconceptions!  How much better to recognize that we have all been called into “fellowship” (partnership or sharing a life) with Christ (cit. B22, I Corinthians 1:3,9).  As we respond to this call, we will naturally express the “unfeigned (genuine) love” that Jesus expressed to everyone he met (cit. B24, I Peter 1:22,23).  And this love will bring healing to ourselves and to our world!


Solitary GEMs of BIBLE-BASED application ideas (from COBBEY CRISLER & others) will now be POSTED DAILY and EMAILED later in the week as a summary string.  You can always check  for current GEMs at CedarS INSPIRATION website, whether or not you’ve  SUBSCRIBED here for this free offering.


Also later in the week, look for Ken Cooper’s
“POETIC POSTLUDE”
contributions related to this Bible Lesson.


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