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Love God and Man – It’s All in the Family
Application ideas the Christian Science Bible Lesson on “Love” for July 28-August 3, 2008
By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Editor’s Note: The following application ideas for this week and Possible Sunday School Topics that follow are offered primarily to help CEDARS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study and application of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp! You can sign up to have them emailed to you free — in English by Monday or Tuesday each week, or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION in French from Pascal, in Spanish from Ana or in German by Gabriele when her schedule allows. JUST SIGN UP at www.cedarscamps.org/newsletters

The Golden Text this week seems simple enough. But the context provides a wealth of information. When the messenger (Malachi) made this statement, religious life in Israel had degenerated into mere ritual. “Adultery and perjury and exploitation of the poor were rife…a spirit of skepticism was abroad. The word of the prophet was challenged at every turn… Worse still, the ways of God were challenged. Belief in his love had vanished” (The Abingdon Bible Commentary). Interpreter’s paints a somber picture as well: “Disintegration of Jewish family life was manifest in divorce and adultery. The rich oppressed the poor and victimized the helpless with impunity. Dishonesty was a key to business success, and the sacred principle of covenant, essential to a responsible society, was constantly disregarded. It was bad enough for the country to be overrun by lawless men, but it appeared that God favored them! …The mood of the hour was ‘What’s the use?'” Once again, a description of life in ancient times reads like a modern day newspaper.

The Responsive Reading provides an answer to the question, “What’s the use?” The words of Jeremiah speak of God’s inexhaustible love for His children. He reminds Israel again of their deliverance from Egypt. God promises to save His people. They shall be completely satisfied, lacking for nothing. The people will rejoice with thanksgiving and merriment. Abingdon paraphrases the passage: “He shall restore to himself a people which has lost courage to seek him.” There is no disparity or hopelessness here. Everyone is blessed abundantly.

Section 1: Love Is the True Family Trait
The first section unfolds the magnitude of God’s love for his creation. It shows that we are cared for, protected, and cherished (B1). It indicates a special relationship between God and man. God is our loving Father (B2). We are His loved children “not only in name, but in fact” (Ibid.). We dwell in Him and He in us (B3). What better way is there to describe our relationship with God?

God is Love. Mrs. Eddy asks, “Can we ask Him to be more?” (S1) She designates God as “Father and Mother” of all. Perhaps no clearer metaphor amplifies our understanding of God as Love than signifying God as our divine Parent (S2). As the prophets used unmistakable imagery to explain God’s loving nature, so Mrs. Eddy explains God as the Author of all that is good and beautiful (S3-5). God, Spirit, impartially cares for every object of creation. Everything made is the likeness of the Creator. Understanding our relationship to God as child to Parent gives us a sense of dominion, power, and authority. God is not an impersonal ruler out of touch with His subjects. God is Love itself. He / She is intimately involved with man. If you know you belong to a supportive family you have a certain sense of calm, confidence, and poise that you don’t have elsewhere. In the same way, considering yourself as an heir of God changes your approach to life.

Section 2: Love Anoints and Appoints
Many cultures considered their leaders as being appointed and anointed by divine authority. Even in modern times, monarchs are often crowned by church leaders. The story in citation B4 introduces David as Saul’s divinely appointed successor. “The special grace conferred by anointing passed from the rejected Saul to the new king” (Dummelow). After being anointed with oil, the Spirit of the Lord inspired David and qualified him to rule when his time came. The sense of sonship present in the first section of the Lesson is enhanced here by the sense that God endows us with the grace needed to fulfill our missions. At first Samuel was looking only for physical attributes, but God looks on the heart. Though David was the youngest, he must have had some inherent qualities and virtues that made him fit for the task. In Colossians (B5) there is a list of virtues that Christians are supposed to exhibit. They too, are “the elect of God.” The virtues listed were common to the ethically minded thinkers of the time. But there was one thing added that was practically unknown to the pre-Biblical pagan world-love (Abingdon). The bond that held everyone and everything together was love. Love is presented as the “principle of perfection in the moral world” (Ibid.). Interpreter’s comments “Love is above all the mark of the new life in Christ. It is the bond wherein life has meaning, vitality, and integrity.”

Our introduction to David presents us with a hopeful view. Young David has been a model of virtue and devotion and has great potential. As one of our CedarS Camps’ songs goes, “I am a child of infinite potential.” Mrs. Eddy includes consecration in her definition of “oil” (S6) among the qualities that express oneness with God. Consecration means “separating from a common to a sacred use, or devoting or dedicating a person or thing to the service of God…” (Student’s Reference Dictionary). “The Divine Being must be reflected by man” (S7). Reflecting God’s nature expresses our unity with Him. All of this requires work – “absolute consecration of thought, energy, and desire.” This seems like a pretty tall order – to absolutely devote all thought, energy, and desire to the service of God. Science and Health states what we most need is “fervent desire for growth in grace” (S8). We may not have a Samuel to anoint us, but we have been called to grow in grace. Asking for it isn’t enough. We need to struggle for it, long for it, watch for it, and strive for it. When we’re growing up our parents often say “look where you’re walking.” We need to heed the same instruction in our spiritual journey (S9). One of the unique teachings of Christian Science is the realization that the good we desire is already here. When you remember who you are – the child, the anointed of God – you will be much more likely to act like it. There’s nothing like “being there.” So as we live it, we’ll feel it.

Section 3: Love Gives Protection, Power, and Authority
As we accept our status as anointed members of God’s family, we quickly find opportunities to prove it. Citation B6 declares that all mankind can take shelter in God’s love. Abingdon notes that though the Psalm deals with the evidence of God’s goodness in the human experience, every blessing mentioned is spiritual and personally felt by the author. It’s described as “deep spiritual religion.” David’s opportunity to prove God’s loving protection is to answer the challenge of Goliath (B7). The story proves David worthy to be Saul’s “legitimate successor, on whom God’s favor rests” (Interpreter’s). While Saul and the rest of his army quake with fear, David has complete trust in God. He certainly acts “as possessing all power from Him in whom [he] has [his] being.” David makes some interesting choices. He does not resort to human protection. He goes to Goliath as a shepherd not a warrior, armed with only a sling and five smooth stones. When he addresses Goliath, he speaks as God’s representative. David may not have worn Saul’s armor, but he was certainly protected. As we meet our Goliaths on our spiritual journeys, we too, can put on the “armour of God” (B8). Clothed with truth, righteousness, salvation, the gospel of peace, faith, and salvation, and armed with the word of God, we will be ready to meet all challenges. We will find them to be opportunities to prove Love’s omnipotence.

Our Leader counsels us to overcome evil with good at all times (S10). David knew who he was and so must we. Our armor is impenetrable Love. Wearing this armor no hatred can reach us. Love can’t even relate to hatred (S11). Hate has no power at all, no matter how much it boasts. Now here’s another key point unique to the teachings of Christian Science – error is only a belief. If Truth is real, error is unreal (S13). The conflict that seems to go on in human experience is not what it appears to be. It’s suppositional — taking place only in human mentality. We are promised that this suppositional warfare will be settled “through faith in and understanding of divine Love.”

Section 4: Love Corrects and Governs
Some challenges can seem quite dangerous; and then there are some challenges that seem enticing. We tend to accept the dangerous challenges readily because they are obvious threats to our welfare. When we win through reliance on divine Love, we usually feel great and pretty inspired. But the enticing challenges sometimes fool us. Rather than seeing a threat, we see what looks to be an appealing outcome. If we let our guard down and get taken in, we usually end up feeling pretty bad. David had a lot going for him, but David gave in to sensual desire. He committed the sin of adultery and what amounted to conspiracy to murder (B10). Bath-sheba’s wronged husband Uriah was really a good guy. His name means, “Yaweh is light.” (Interpreter’s) The whole story is pretty heart wrenching. When David finds out that Bath-sheba is expecting his child, he tries to cover it up by inviting Uriah to spend a night with his wife. But Uriah wouldn’t do it while his comrades were on the battlefield. So David arranges for Uriah to be killed in battle. Of course that doesn’t solve anything. Nathan goes to David to rebuke him and David repents. But the expected child eventually dies despite David’s prayers. Some might feel this is a pretty harsh story. How could a God who is Love have anything to do with this type of suffering? The story is told to show God’s displeasure with sin even though his own anointed is the wrongdoer. Abingdon has an interesting take on this: “Sin works in the body like a poison issuing in death. Death, therefore, is not so much the punishment of sin as its inevitable consequence…the underlying principle is clear: if suffering and sorrow did not inevitably follow upon sin, God’s moral order of the world would be compromised.” According to tradition David composed Psalm 51 (B12) during his time of repentance. He asks for his transgressions to be blotted out, his iniquities washed, and his sin to be cleansed. When he says, “Create in me a clean heart” he recalls the marvel of original creation. Pardon isn’t enough. He is willing to undergo complete moral and spiritual renewal.

Mrs. Eddy doesn’t shy away from the need for correction in human experience. The divine Principle, Love, “alone reforms the sinner” (S14). She also tells us that every “pleasure in sin will furnish more than its equivalent of pain.” Note here that she doesn’t say every pleasure in general, but every pleasure “in sin.” Divine Love pardons sin by destroying it (S15). Though the process may seem unpleasant at the time, purification is for our good. Mrs. Eddy terms these purifying trials “wholesome chastisements of Love” (S16). As the marginal heading indicates, despite temporary discomfort, that’s a fairly “bright outlook.”

Section 5: Love Is Merciful
Before long, David gets an opportunity to practice his new outlook on life. Shimei was member of Saul’s clan and was pretty bitter about David taking Saul’s place as king. David was dealing with a rebellion initiated by his own son Absalom. As he passed through Bahurim, Shemei came out hurling stones and insults at the king and his servants. His tirade as recorded in The New English Bible gives us get a better sense of the severity of his reaction to David: “Get out, get out, you scoundrel! you man of blood! The Lord has taken vengeance on you for the blood of the house of Saul whose throne you stole, and he has given the kingdom to your son Absalom. You murderer, see how your crimes have overtaken you!” For most people, “them’s fightin’ words!” and when directed to the king, one’s life could easily be in danger. But David couldn’t blame him when his own son wanted to kill him, and he lets it go. When David returns (B15) after mourning the death of his traitorous son Absalom, Shemai has a changed attitude. He falls down begging for forgiveness. Abishai, one of David’s men, feels that Shemei should be executed, but David is a changed man. “Thou shalt not die” promises David to Shemei. The mercy shown by David later became a hallmark of the Christian community. Dummelow paraphrases Paul’s exhortation (B16) like this: “…as one family in Christ be affectionate to one another; let each regard others as more fit for honors than himself; joyfully expectant of future glory, brave in affection, unflagging in prayer, Bless your persecutors, enter into one another’s desires and aims…”

Love is the primary way we can begin to understand God. (S17)  As mankind realizes that we have one Mind, conflict and war will end (S18). Mrs. Eddy writes that the test of our prayer is proven in the way we love our fellow men. (S19) David no longer pursued “the old selfishness.” His commitment to change his character met many challenges. Many people wronged him during his reign, but he was consistent in his desire to do right. Mrs. Eddy reminds us that we are expected to overcome the lower, brutish propensities with chastity, charity, and honesty (S20). We gauge our progress by our love for God and man. (S21) As always, the proof is in the pudding. The manner in which we live shows what we believe.

Section 6: Love Clears Our Vision
The Jews considered David as a great king because of his relationship with, and obedience to God. Jewish prophesies expected the coming Messiah to be of the lineage of the house of David (B17, 18). If David was the prime example of repentance and obedience to divine Love, Jesus set the standard for demonstrating the healing power of divine Love. There is no question that the gospel writers took every opportunity to connect Jesus to the house of David in order to prove that he was the promised Messiah. The blind man calling Jesus the “Son of David” is an example of this. (B19) But Jesus didn’t rely on human bloodlines. His true credentials were divine. God was his father. As David felt the authority of divine anointing, Jesus embodied the Spirit of his Father, divine Love, in everything he did. Prophecy referred to the Messiah as “a righteous branch.” The branch is fed and sustained by the root. So was Jesus’ relation with divine Love.

Jesus taught men how to see in an entirely new way. The material senses are incapable of comprehending the spiritual idea. Jesus showed us how to exercise our spiritual sense. (S22) In order for us to see things in their true light we need to get our information from Mind, God. (S23) The material senses are transient and fragile. The senses of Soul are permanent. When we are governed by divine Love, we can never be deprived of light. (S24) Truth and Love bring light; and as we walk in that light we reflect it. (S25) The section closes with the phrase, “Love never loses sight of loveliness.” (S26) This indicates that God never loses sight of His precious creation. Spirit’s senses are perfect, painless, and at peace. The closer we are to God, the closer we are to the light enabling us to see clearer. If our perception needs improvement, or we aren’t seeing things the way we think we ought to, the corrective lens of Love promises to improve our view.

Section 7: Love Includes Everyone
In Revelation (B20) John confirms Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus fulfills all the Messianic claims of the house of David. Jesus is the “bright and morning star;” i.e., “in him is all that Israel hoped for in the past; in him is the promise of all that is to come” (Abingdon). God made His love to man known, through His Son (B21). We ought to show our love for God by loving our fellow men. Loving one another is proof of His presence.

The textbook tells us that “Love inspires, illumines, designates and leads the way.” (S28)  If we love God, we have to love man. God lovingly cares for all His ideas. As Love’s expression, so must we. (S29) This Love is universal. (S30) It’s the exact opposite of the moral degradation addressed by Malachi in the Golden Text. Universal Love creates, anoints, reforms, heals, and guides us. It’s simple. It’s profound. It’s the divine way. Helping one another in “one grand brotherhood,” everyone is included in Love’s divine family.
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This weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers & staff blessed each summer at CEDARS, as well as to CEDARS alumni, families and friends who request it. However, current and planned gifts are needed to help cover the costs of running this service and of providing camperships, programs and operations support. Click here to read fruitage due to your help; to review current Operational needs; and to see our Annual Appeal. Click http://www.cedarscamps.org/giving for more about how you can give online or to talk privately about how to make a special gift to help perpetuate CEDARS work.
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Camp Director’s Note: This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, seven-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. (To keep the flow of the practitioner’s ideas intact and to allow for more selective printing the “Possible Sunday School Topics” and Homework options come on a following page or subsequent email.) This weekly email (and website posting) is 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 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” 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, background and new angles on daily applicability to 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. B1 and S28) from this week’s Bible Lesson in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30) 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 these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor. Have fun unwrapping, cherishing and sharing your special, spiritual gift(s)!
Enjoy!
Warren Huff, Camp Director, director@cedarscamps.org (636) 394-6162

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Possible Sunday School Topics for the Lesson on “Love” for July 28-August 3, 2008
Submitted anonymously by former CS camp counselors who now teach Sunday School

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T- Golden Text and Responsive Reading] – Come up with a list of all the ways you have experienced God’s promise in your own life: “I have always loved you.”

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 1] – What does it mean to you to be part of God’s family? What are God’s roles and responsibilities as the Father-Mother? (See especially B1, S4, S5) What are your roles and responsibilities as God’s child? (See especially B3, S5)

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 2] – Consider acting out B4 with your class. What qualities was the prophet Samuel looking for in the new leader? When Samuel comes close to anointing Eliab instead of David, what does God remind him? How might this reminder not to judge by outward appearance guide your own decisions and relationships?

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 3] – This week’s My Bible Lesson states that a cubit = 18 inches and a span = 9 inches. Have students do the math to determine Goliath’s height (9.75 feet). Bring a tape measure and show the students how tall Goliath was. Make a life-sized outline of Goliath on cardboard or butcher paper and write down on this outline the errors that Goliath might represent: bullying, defeat, lack, impossibility. . . Use the same material to make smooth stones and write down spiritual facts on these stones that handle the errors listed on Goliath. Let your students pretend to be David and fling their stones at Goliath. [F.Y.I.: CedarS Zipline over Crown Lake was built so that at the takeoff point the cable is the height of Goliath (9′-9″) above end of the runway. In the beginning campers were reminded to be as confident in God as David was when they also run to meet any Goliath-sized problems that are facing them.]

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 4] – Why do you think the story of David and Bath-sheba appears in the Bible Lesson on Love? Why do you think that David succumbed to the temptation to commit adultery with Bath-sheba when he didn’t succumb to living in terror of Goliath? How does David respond once he realizes that he has sinned? What do the passages in Science and Health have to say about Love’s role in destroying sin?

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 5] – How do you think that what David learned from Section 4 prepares him to respond to Shimei in Section 5? How does the concept of one Mind enable us to express forgiveness and experience brotherly love? (See S17 and S18)

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 6] – Look up the definition of the word “eyes” in the Glossary of S&H. How does this definition shed light on Jesus’ healing of the blind man in B19? How did Jesus’ discernment of this man differ from that of the multitude?

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 7] – It can be tempting to love some people more than others or not to love certain people at all. Work this week to show your love of God through loving someone or some group that you have had difficulty loving in the past or present. How does the idea of “one grand brotherhood” help to heal conflicts at camp, home, school, work, etc?

 

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