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Live the “Real Thing” and Never Fail!
Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Love” for January 28—February 3, 2013
By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S.

Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett)
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683

“Love never fails” says the Golden Text. Why does love never fail? As nineteenth century theologian Albert Barnes explains it, it’s because it is always available to us, we can exercise it in any situation, it can be adapted to every circumstance, it will be useful in every environment, and wherever we may dwell. In the full text of his letter to the Corinthians, Paul goes on to compare love with all of the endowments thought to be valued by those of his time. Love proves more valuable than all else and is able to endure when all else fails.

This Lesson has a lot to do with method and motive. There is no better method or motive than love. It has the capacity to bring exactly what is needed to any situation.

The opening salutation in the Responsive Reading is a case in point. The statement, “Grace be unto you, and peace…” is one that embraces the traditional greetings of Greek, Roman, and Hebrew—to each of whom Paul’s message applies. According to Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible—(JFB), The Greek salutation “chairein”—(joy), was very close to the Greek “charis” which we translate as “grace.” The Hebrew greeting of “peace” included both temporal and spiritual prosperity. The Roman greeting was “health” which is an implied intermediate between grace and peace. Hence, the apostolic salutation is all-inclusive. Here, Paul is practicing love for his audience from the outset. Then he prays that their love infuse their knowledge of doctrine, as well as their judgement or spiritual perception. Practicing this love will enable them to prove “excellence” in the things that matter most, and also to distinguish between that which is worthy and unworthy. Their practice will be sincere—pure, honest, and able to withstand scrutiny.

Writing to the Corinthians, Paul urges that “nothing be done through strife or vainglory.” Albert Barnes elucidates the meaning of “strife” in this passage: “The command prohibits all attempts to secure anything over others by mere physical strength, or by superiority of intellect or numbers, or as the result of dark schemes and plans formed by rivalry, or by the indulgence of angry passions, or with the spirit of ambition.” He goes on to say, “We are not to attempt to do anything merely by outstripping others, or by showing that we have more talent, courage, or zeal. What[ever] we do is to be [done] by principle, and with a desire to maintain the truth, and to glorify God.” Regarding “vainglory” Barnes writes that we should not do anything with “a mere desire to honor ourselves, to attract attention, to win praise, to make ourselves uppermost, or foremost, or the main object. The command here solemnly forbids our doing anything with such an aim – no matter whether it be in intellectual attainments, in physical strength, in skill in music, in eloquence or song, in dress, furniture, or religion. Self is not to be foremost; selfishness is not to be the motive.”

The bottom line is that our method and motive should always be love.

Section 1: The Love of God Is All-Inclusive
The first section gives us a larger sense of of what it means to say God is Love. Some people may feel detached or even unworthy of turning to God. They may ask, Am I beyond God’s love? Can God actually love someone like me? The scriptures attempt to put such concerns to rest. First of all, God is all-powerful, and nothing can oppose Him. He rejoices over us in every way. Several commentaries note that the phrase “rest in his love” indicates God will make no mention of our sins, nor does He bring them up, upbraid us, nor remember them. JFB describes it as “that calm silent joy in the possession of the object of one’s love, too great for words to express.” Yet in the next line, that joy is fully expressed in song (B1). Along the same line, the psalmist speaks of the fullness of God’s compassion. There is not a single individual whom God is unwilling or unready to bless. He tenderly cares for everyone as a mother yearns for her offspring (B2). We can completely trust God, and we want to feel His love the first thing every day with the morning light. We can find refuge in that Love no matter what trouble we’re in (B3). Barnes writes that there is a marginal note in the Hebrew which translates “how excellent” (B4) as meaning “precious.” The first thing many think of when they hear that word, is how poor Smeagol called the ring of power his “precious” in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. He considered that ring so valuable, that he would go to any length to possess and protect it. Now while his was an obsessive selfishness, God’s love is completely giving and forgiving, yet no earthly ardor can even hint at the magnitude of God’s love for His children. Each one of us are God’s “precious”—we have inestimable value and our heavenly Father-Mother utterly delights in each of us.

The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, describes God as universal, eternal, changeless divine Love (S1). God is so much more than the traditional view that imagines God to be little more than a supernatural human. God is infinite and includes all that really exists (S2). While God is often described in human terms, He is vastly more than that. She writes, “No form nor physical combination is adequate to represent infinite Love” (S3). As the psalmist does, Mrs. Eddy recognizes God’s universality and impartiality when blessing His creation. She points out that thinking of God in corporeal, personal terms prevents us from comprehending the ever-present possibilities of divine help (S4). ["When you are ready to make the needed "adaptation", you'll receive the divine 'bestowals.'" a Geith Plimmer insight on S4, 13:2]  The facts of Science must be found superior to the sense testimony, in order for us to apprehend the reality of things. Then we’ll see that Love expressed all around us (S5).

Section 2: Love Leads the Way
Whenever undertaking an important task, it is wise to consider it thoughtfully, prayerfully, and soberly. Whether staring at a blank screen before writing, wondering which school or job to apply for, where to live, or whom to marry, the safest thing to do is start with prayer. Of course it’s advisable to pray about the small things too, and in fact, to pray about everything we do, but it’s especially useful when the stakes are high. This is in part, because the higher the stakes, the more inclined we are to be hesitant due to fear of making the wrong decision.

The Israelites had a rich track record of turning to God for guidance and the prophets often reminded them of it (B5). Even when they would stray, God was still there to straighten them out. One of the ongoing promises the Children of Israel held to was that God would send “an angel” before them to show them the way (B6). The patriarch Abraham was entrusted with a huge responsibility. He was to be father of an entire nation. Isaac was the child of that promise, and finding a suitable wife for him was a top priority. While we could easily delve into the historical nuances of this story, let’s instead consider the methods employed in meeting the challenge.

When commissioning his servant to find Isaac a wife (B7), he made him swear that he wouldn’t choose from the Canaanites, but from his own tribe. His motive wasn’t xenophobic, it was to preserve the purity of worship and spiritual mindedness for future generations. He wasn’t just fathering a family, or political idea, he was responsible for maintaining a pure relationship with God for a nation. When we begin the search for a right direction, do we consider the future implications of the greater good? Or do we think short term and consider only personal desires? The servant is promised an angel will lead him. (We’ll touch on angels shortly.) The servant indeed prays and receives exactly the direction he needs to make the right choice. Rather than follow self-interest, or try to scheme or impress anyone, the servant prays simply and honestly, and he is rewarded accordingly. Adam Clarke makes this comment on the servant’s method: “To expect the accomplishment of any good end, without a proper use of the means, is the most reprehensible enthusiasm; and to suppose that any good can be done or procured without the blessing and mercy of God, merely because proper means are used, is not less reprehensible.”  In other words, to expect a good result without using proper means is dishonorable and shameful. And to think you can accomplish a good result without God’s direction, is equally so. The servant behaved both honorably and in obedience to God. He received precisely the sign he’d prayed for and there was no doubt that he had found the right bride for Isaac. As to the servant’s method, Matthew Henry, another well known theologian of the 17th—18th century, points out that the servant did not seek a wife in places of amusement and pleasure; but at a well, where he found her engaged in useful work. Upon finding Rebekah, the servant maintains his devotion to God and to fulfilling Abraham’s wishes. Giving thanks for his progress thus far, he is ready to bring Isaac his bride.

But, Rebekah isn’t forced to go with him; they ask her if she is willing to go. Here too, is a lesson for both parents and children today. She honored the family decision and knew she was doing what was for the greater good, but the family did not force her against her natural inclinations. It was a mutual decision in which everyone involved was open and obedient to God’s direction.

Then we have Isaac at home. Was he pacing, nervously fretting, wondering if everything would work out? No. He was in meditative prayer, quietly and obediently waiting for God’s plan to unfold. Here again, we have Henry’s estimation of the scene: “He [Isaac] went out to take the advantage of a silent evening, and a solitary place, for meditation and prayer; those divine exercises by which we converse with God and our own hearts. Holy souls love retirement [private time]; it will do us good to be often alone, if rightly employed; and we are never less alone than when alone.” (Older campers at CedarS may recognize this as a perfect description of “solo” time. It’s a rare opportunity for many of us, but it’s a most useful way to get close to God.) While Henry’s depiction is speculation, it certainly is an accurate description of the appropriate solemnity with which effective prayer is approached. When Rebekah arrives Isaac welcomes her, and from all accounts treated her with love and respect.

God’s promise in Isaiah (B8) once more includes the phrase “precious in my sight.” We can see that everyone in the story was cared for and provided for by divine Love, and that everyone was attentive to, and willingly obedient to Love’s direction.

The textbook indicates that that Love leads, strengthens, and uplifts. It tells us that as Isaac did, we need to wait patiently on God (S6). How reassuring it is to know that God is always unfolding His purpose in perfect order (S7). None of the characters in Isaac’s story acted on human will, intuition, or obligatory mechanics. They all exercised their spiritual sense which enabled them to behold the right choices (S8). In order to use our spiritual sense, we need to quiet the material sense testimony. Then we begin to feel a sense of direction.

The spiritual thoughts that guide us are angels. In the late 1980s and early 1990’s there was a flurry of movies and books about angels in one form or another, often using imagery from Milton and Dante. These superstitious views have basically formed the way many people think about angels. But Mrs. Eddy characterizes angels as “pure thoughts from God.” They lead us away from selfish reasoning and point us in the right direction (S9). While some feel that the possibility of truly divine direction belongs to a period long past, our Leader maintains that Divine Love is still meeting—and always will—meet every human need (S10). So when you’re faced with important decisions, or even little decisions, take the time to turn humbly to divine Love and see what is ready to unfold.

Section 3: Love Governs Our Actions
We’ve talked about how to let love guide us when making choices, and now we consider how important it is for love to govern our behavior and actions. The King James Version says “Let love be without dissimulation” (B9). In other words, without hypocrisy—sincere, and unfeigned (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible). As The Amplified Bible puts it, “Let your love be ‘a real thing.’ ” Isaac was ever the dutiful son, and always sincere in his obedience to God. We can tell by his willingness to obey his father as a boy—even to the point of being bound for sacrifice, and his patient expectancy in waiting for Rebekah, that he was thoughtful and mild mannered. His obedience brought rewards too. Isaac was productive even though the land was in famine. He trusted that God’s promise was valid, and that the Land of Canaan was his heritage. However, when he began to dig wells he met with opposition from the local population (B10). But, he didn’t get self-righteous about it. He just moved on to another spot. Adam Clarke writes: “Never did any man more implicitly follow the Divine command, ‘Resist not evil,’ than Isaac; whenever he found that his work was likely to be a subject of strife and contention, he gave place, and rather chose to suffer wrong than to have his own peace of mind disturbed. Thus he overcame evil with good.” Isaac wasn’t timid or wimpy, nor did he pretend the problem didn’t exist. He named each well according to his experience and left not only each contested well, but the false belief each represented. He symbolically named the first Esek meaning “contention.” The second was named Sitnah, or “hatred.” The last one he named Rehoboth or “room.”

Isaac is a model for those who find themselves in hostile circumstances through no fault of their own. If you’ve ever been in that situation, you know how easy it is to feel justified in fighting back, or getting even. One of the reasons he could remain calm, is that he trusted completely in God’s promise irrespective of the apparent obstacles. Eventually, those who once tried to get rid of him, ended up approaching him to reach an agreement, and they left peacefully.

Paul’s letter to the Colossians brands “charity”—love—as a particularly Christian virtue. He calls it the “bond of perfectness.” JFB says that the phrase alludes to a garment worn on the upper body that holds everything else together. Without it, the rest of the clothing is “loose and disconnected.” In the same way, love is the essential element that ties all the other virtues together.

Science and Health declares that divine Love governs man, and when clothed in the armor of Love, hatred cannot reach us (S11,12). While we may be tempted to react to error and retaliate, we would do well to remember that often it’s the reaction that gets noticed more than the original offense. In October 1891 our Leader wrote a student “never deal with evil as evil deals with you” (Advice to Healers Volume 2 p.11 from the Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity). Our textbook provides an impressive solution—the only way to get rid of error is “to pour in truth through flood-tides of Love” (S13). That’s certainly contrary to the world’s way of doing things. When faced with unfair, unjust, hostile conditions, it is often hard to see any benefit; but, we’re promised that Love will see us through. The harder the situation, the stronger should be our love (S14). The textbook indicates that the recognition of one God is the key to loving our neighbor and fulfilling the Golden Rule. In fact, Love is capable of correcting every societal wrong we may face (S15). Now it’s very easy to talk and theorize about love, but only living it will enable us to fully understand it (S16). The bottom line here is [the quote over the stage in CedarS dining room] that “No power can withstand divine Love” (S17). I would expect that anyone who’s ever put love to the test in difficult situations has found this to be true. When challenged, take some time to recall how Love has made the difference when previously applied in your experience. Trust the promise as Isaac did,and stay the course on the only path to victory.

Section 4 Love—the Incentive in Healing
Yes, it’s easy to give lip-service to Love. It makes us feel pretty good about ourselves too. But it’s no good at all unless we put our words to the test by living them. Hence the admonition in 1st John (B12). Christ Jesus is the pre-eminent example of what it means to live our love. His compassion for struggling humanity was boundless. The story of the leper coming to Jesus for healing (B15) is quite familiar to most of us. We know that leprosy was highly contagious and those who had it were considered untouchable. The fact that Jesus touched him, not only overruled the belief of contagion, but religious and societal taboo as well.  If faced with similar circumstances, would you have enough love to touch the untouchable? Paul’s instruction to Timothy (B16) calls upon us to carry on Jesus example. Paul provides a list of how to do that:

We are to be examples…

            “in word”—keeping our teaching confined to the pure truth of God

            “in conversation”—keeping our conduct consistent with holiness

            “in charity”— loving both God and man

            “in spirit”—maintaining a holy disposition through all we do

            “in faith”—maintaining our fidelity to the divine cause

            “in purity”—keeping free from all sensual distractions and temptations

(adapted from Adam Clarke)

Each of these qualities apply specifically to our healing practice.

The citations from Science and Health in this section are well known and oft repeated. They describe love as our true incentive, and point out that this same love gave Jesus authority to heal (S18, S19). And we have the promise that reaching our patients through divine Love has the power to heal in one visit (S20). Without a deep sympathy we cannot heal. “Sympathy” is an interesting choice of words. It implies a “fellow-feeling” or “agreement of affections or inclinations” (Student’s Reference Dictionary). Some might think that to be strange. After all, as metaphysicians, we are not supposed to be impressed with the sufferings and stories of woe we’re faced with. But couldn’t the type of “sympathy” Mrs. Eddy is talking about be similar to the feelings Jesus had when he was “moved with compassion?” The word “sympathy” comes from two Greek words meaning “with passion.” Jesus was deeply moved by the condition of the multitudes. Mrs. Eddy too, said she felt the yearnings of the world’s call for healing. So even though we don’t want to be impressed with the apparent extremity of the situations we face, we should be deeply stirred with the desire to help and heal, because of our love for mankind. Mrs. Eddy says if we don’t have that type of love, we won’t even recognize “infinite Love which alone confers the healing power” (S21). All the qualities Paul mentions in 1st Timothy are reiterated in our textbook as essential to healing. Finally, we’re told to constantly remember that our healing ability comes directly from the Christ, and that everything is based on Love (S22).

Section 5: A Heart Full of Love
Jeremiah foresees a time when we won’t merely follow an external code of morals, but that the law would be a force that shapes our character from within (B17). We won’t have to teach others because everyone will have within them, an innate sense of the law of Love. All true love originates in God, and shows that we are imbued with His Spirit. The more we practice it, the more we reflect Love’s healing power (B18). This Love restores our soul—it literally brings us to the fullness of life (B19). Then we have that special reminder to “be still” (B21). That’s how Abraham’s servant found Rebekah, and how Isaac, maintained peace in “the neighborhood.” It’s that “solo” time that helps to silence all the human frustrations and fears. In that quiet space we can exercise our spiritual sense and see that divine Love and peace are always with us (B22).

We can clearly tell when a performance of any kind— sporting, theatrical, or musical is truly from the heart and not merely a mechanical exercise. The same holds true for our practice of Love. The “real thing” comes from a power both beyond yet within us. We apprehend and comprehend this love through spiritual sense*, and this sense comes from Love (S23-S25). The material sense of things hides the spiritual reality. But spiritual sense* knows that nothing can ever separate us from that power of Love (S26). We must put off material sense and follow the examples set by Isaac and the Master, maintaining a clear loyalty to the highest and holiest of purposes, and a heart so filled with love that it feels and responds to the call of suffering humanity (S27). We may be well-versed in the letter of Christian Science, we may be able to quote the Scriptures and textbook backwards and forwards, but the vital part, is Love (S28). And note that that’s with a capital “L.” We’re not talking about a finite human sense of love, but a deep transcendent power that radiates from divine Love itself. That’s the Love that never fails!


*[Warren's note abour spiritual sense in Section 5:  The whole "purpose of The CedarS is to give each camper an appreciation of spiritual sense and an abundance of wholesome, joyous activity."]

[The application ideas above are from a Christian Science Practitioner who has served as a Resident Practitioner at CedarS Camps. They are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of study and application of the Christian Science Bible lessons throughout the year, not just at camp!  YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of possible ways to share Bible Lesson applications with older, as well as younger, Sunday School classes by clicking the "Subscribe Now" button (lower left) at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/

Warren Huff, CedarS Director & editor of these notes & its bracketed, italic additions.]

[While our herd still needs your "adoptive" support to be fully fed, trained and ready for camp, our focus now goes to filling camp with worthy campers!  With Early Enrollment expiring at the end of January, our main funding goals for early 2013 are raising funds for campership applicantss and for operations support.  If you'd rather not give online, thank you for mailing your checks to:

CedarS Camps Office,
1314 Parkview Valley Dr.,
Manchester, MO 63011

Or for calling us at 
636-394-6162 to give a monthly pledge or a single, credit or debit card gift.]

[Additional Director's Note: You can sign up to have these application ideas emailed to you free — by Monday each week in English; or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION: in German, thanks to Helga and Manfred; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio.  A voluntary French translation by Pascal or Denise cannot be guaranteed due to their busy schedules. An "official" version of the weekly Portuguese translation is now available for CedarS Mets, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil.  Go to http://www.cedarscamps.org/ and click "Newsletters" to sign-up for the Portuguese version.  This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 12-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  (Ask and look for "Possible Sunday School Topics "and "Possible Younger Class Lessons" in subsequent emails.) These weekly offerings are intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and 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, application and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "mets "and Sunday School ideas are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension and background as well as new angles (and angels) on the daily applicability of some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e.B-1 and S-28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "Met" (Metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the Bible (B-1 thru B-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-30). 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 the ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.]

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