Join us for the best summer yet!

Click here to print PDF version

Click here & then on Listen bar to
hear Craig read his CedarS “Met” for the week
.

LOVING EVERYONE
Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on:

“LOVE”
July 24-30 2023

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Godfrey, Illinois
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com /      office 630-830-8683, cell 630-234-3987


INTRODUCTION

It’s been said of the disciple John:

…that in his extreme old age, when he used to be carried to the public assemblies of believers, his constant saying was: “Little children, love one another.” His disciples, wearied at last with the continuous repetition of the same words, asked him why he constantly said the same thing? “Because (said he) it is the commandment of the Lord, and the observation of it alone is sufficient.” (Adam Clarke c1762-1832)


The Golden Text this week is one of many Bible verses in which John tells us to love one another.
Clarke continues:

“We should love one another, and love our neighbour as ourselves. The love of God and the love of man can never be separated; he who loves God will love his brother; he who loves his brother gives this proof that he loves God, because he loves with a measure of that love which, in its infinitude, dwells in God.” (Clarke).

This sounds so simple. Yet, throughout time, practicing unselfish love for each other has been anything but simple. Feuds, wars, and mistreatment of others permeate history.

In one of my training courses in prison ministry, the professor told us that people do the worst and the best things in their lives for the same four reasons: the universal need to belong; to be recognized; to have purpose; and to be loved. Think about it—the first three of these needs are basically summed up in the last one. Henry Drummond, the author of The Greatest Thing in the World called love the summum bonum—the supreme good. Many others have agreed with that assessment.

The Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy specifically call upon us to keep love at the top of our “to-do” lists.


The Responsive Reading bears this out. In I John 4:7 the beloved disciple tells us that love for one another is the key indicator of our love for and understanding of God. It’s evidence that God is in our hearts and has transformed us into mature Christians (V. 12). John also reminds us that love doesn’t begin with us. It begins with God who is Love (v. 19).

The Old Testament too has many reminders that God’s requirements are basic—to walk in His ways, to serve Him sincerely with our whole heart and soul, and to keep His commandments. In Deuteronomy (See—Deut: 10:12-14 what, 18, 19 (to:)), we’re told of God’s protection for those who are disadvantaged and in need, and specifically of God’s love for “the stranger.” Who is the stranger? It is someone who has no contacts, friends, or family to offer aid. The verse reminds the Jews that they were once strangers too, and God took care of them. Therefore, they should do the same to others. There are several references to foreigners in this Lesson.

Today, as in biblical times, much of the strife in the world is due to nationalism, prejudice, clannishness, and a distrust and dislike of certain groups of people. As you read the Lesson this week, ask yourself, “Whom do I consider a stranger? Why do I think that way? What can I do to see them differently? Am I willing to set aside my personal likes and dislikes and try to understand them, and perhaps offer them goodwill and aid?”

Be honest with yourself as you explore these questions. It’s easy to say we love everyone, but it’s another thing entirely to actually feel and live it. According to I John 5:2, loving God and keeping His commandments defines us as His children.


SECTION 1: OUR FATHER-MOTHER IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE

The first section of this Lesson begins with the assurance that God’s love for us is everlasting. (citation B1—Jer. 31:3). Theologian Adam Clarke provides context:

“The exiles, who had not for a long time received any proofs of the Divine protection, are represented as deploring their state; but God answers, that though this may seem to be the case, he has always loved them; and this continued love he will show by bringing them out of their captivity.”

In this verse, the Israelites are the foreigners—the strangers—and God promises to protect them. In Isaiah 66:13 (cit. B2), even though the Israelites’ behavior had alienated them from Him, God’s love is compared to the love poured onto a child by a mother. In Ezekiel 34:15,16 (cit. B3), God is represented as a loving shepherd feeding his flock, preparing a place for them to rest, seeking out the lost, and bringing back those who have been driven away, binding up the broken, and strengthening the sick. God’s care is available to everyone in every circumstance.

It’s important to note that God doesn’t just “fix” them and leave them. God actually transforms them, and cements the relationship, embedding His law in their hearts and minds (cit. B4—Heb. 8:10 I will put). The psalmist refers to God as a father meeting the concerns of the bereft and needy—not just once, but daily as the needs arise (cit. B5—Ps. 68:5, 19).

Our textbook tells us we can’t look higher than to understand that God is Love (citation S1— SH, p. 6:17-18). Love is the divine Principle—the fundamental source of our being. As such, it’s impossible to think of God in finite, anthropomorphic terms (cit. S2— 256:7, 16, 24-25). We learn about God through spiritual understanding. As we allow our understanding of God to transform our lives, our spiritual practice becomes more than just an intellectual exercise (cit. S3— 140:7-13, 25-27). Understanding God as Love allows us to rise above a human belief of God as a supernatural being, to seeing God as our eternal Father-Mother, and man as God’s infinite ideas, forever united as one universal family (cit. S4— 576:26-4). This idea of God pouring beauty and light without reservation is a key feature of this Lesson (cit. S5— 516:12-13, 21).


SECTION 2—BETRAYAL

In the divine order of things, God is Father-Mother, thus all mankind are brethren, expected to live in harmony and peace. But in the human scene, this is more easily said than done. Even some of the earliest scriptural passages remind us to love our brothers. The Old Testament expresses this in somewhat cautionary language: “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge…” (cit. B7—Lev. 19:2, 17, 18). Though these commands are simple to say, experience shows they can be challenging to fulfill.

As we’ve seen, the beloved disciple John, considered this high order to love one another as a key to the “victory that overcometh the world” (cit. B8—I John 5:3, 4). In the world, we soon learn that at times we run into those, who despite our best efforts to love them, continually disappoint, betray, and attempt to do us harm (cit. B9—Ps. 35:10-14). This can be very discouraging to us “even to the spoiling of [our] soul” having been taught to expect that our good deeds will elicit some measure of good will returning to us. Alas, that is not always the case. Is there a remedy? Well, these betrayals teach us that the only place we can expect unwavering consistency is in trusting God. God’s mercies are great and a sure source of peace. When our faith is rooted in God rather than man, nothing can offend us (cit. B11—Ps. 119:156, 165).

To love our neighbor is a divine demand, and given the challenges within human relationships, such a demand seems nearly impossible to keep. Why? Because the physical senses are incapable of understanding it (cit. S8—88:18-20). To talk about loving our neighbor may, on the surface, seem a little “pie in the sky” to some, and downright weak to others. But Mary Baker Eddy didn’t sugarcoat loving your neighbor, which she explained demands a great deal of strength. She tells us that we won’t find spiritual development within material hopes. It’s when these decay that the seeds of a higher joy are planted. The seeds of Spirit are impervious to earthly disappointments (cit. S9— 66:11).

On page 266 (lines 6-17, cit. S10) of Science and Health the author provides a warning based on her own experience. She cautions that if “existence without personal friends” would be “a blank” to you, “Then the time will come when you will be solitary, left without sympathy…” If she left it there, we’d be in a sad state indeed. But she takes it further: “but this seeming vacuum is already filled with divine Love.” The bottom line—if we trust in material things, friends, or circumstances more than in God, we may face disappointment. But divine Love sees us through these challenges, forcing us to lean on God—who is our ever friend, and never leaves us.

She says that even if our love and affection meet no return, it’s not in vain. The act of loving elevates us to even higher spiritual views. All the awful things that cause disappointment, serve to “unite thought more closely to God.” As difficult as these challenges are, we have the promise that, “Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world and begins to unfold its wings for heaven” (cit. S11— 57:22).


SECTION 3: IMPORTUNATE ASKING

 John often refers to us as the “Sons of God” (cit. B12—I John 3:1). When we hear this read near the close of every Christian Science church service what are we thinking? Do we imagine John is referring only to Christians?

Paul did his best to emphasize that the Christian way was inclusive of all. He was deeply concerned that the Galatians were straying from Jesus’ teachings. He reminded them that there were neither Greeks nor Jews, but all were one—as children of God (cit. B13—Gal. 3:26, 28).

In Mark 7 (verses 24-30, cit. B15) we have the story of a woman, identified as “a Greek,” come to Jesus for healing. Clarke reports that during Jesus’ time, the Jews referred to all non-Jewish people as Greeks. The bottom line is she was a foreigner and deemed by Jewish law as unclean and undesirable. Do you consider any group, nationality or class of people as inferior or undesirable? The woman’s precise nationality isn’t really known, but she was not a Jew and, apparently, the disciples held an antipathy toward her.

The interchange that took place between the woman and Jesus is interesting. Since Jesus had tried to lodge in the town unnoticed, this woman must have had a strong determination to find him. Jesus is said to refer to her with an unflattering term. However, the term he uses isn’t as denigrating as we might think. When Jesus referred to dogs, he meant a pet rather than a mongrel. It seems the woman didn’t really take offense either. She acknowledged the fact that she wasn’t a Jew, yet she still yearned for healing and felt she deserved it. Jesus rewarded her importunity by fulfilling the request to heal her daughter.

There are two lessons here. 1. Jesus modeled the love that did not discriminate but embraced all. 2. The woman did not give up in her quest for healing. Jesus taught that earnest seeking is an acceptable and effective approach to healing (cit. B16—Matt. 7:7, 8). The woman didn’t give up and neither should we.

Our textbook tells us that Jesus taught a better understanding of God as Love in an age of “ecclesiastical despotism” (cit. S12—473:18). That means the religious leaders exercised tyrannical rule, coupled with an active jingoism. In many ways, this is still a challenge today. Not only are there polarizations between nations, but within nations, races, political, and religious groups. Take a moment to see how many groups you identify with. Ask yourself “Why?” Are there any other groups you’re afraid of or feel superior to? Are there people you avoid?

Elitism has no place in Christian practice. The divine Principle is available to everyone equally. There is “no dynasty or ecclesiastical monopoly” (cit. S13—141:13-18). The Discoverer of Christian Science asks, “Does Deity interpose on behalf of one worshipper, and not help another who offers the same measure of prayer?” (cit. S14— 12:27-29, 31). In Science, everyone is included.

On Science and Health page 494 (lines 10-15, 19, cit. S15), is a statement that is posted in every Christian Science church I’ve ever been in: “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.” Not just the needs of ours or of our friends, or of those who agree with us, but EVERYONE including those we might consider our sworn enemies. God plays no favorites. If the world could understand this one thing alone, the majority of human difficulties would dissolve in an instant.

As noted earlier, there are two big lessons in this section. The second is to never give up. No matter how real our troubles appear, they are in fact, illusions of material sense which disappear in the light of Truth. Our textbook encourages us to rise in rebellion against all disease. But we need to remember that rising up against something isn’t effective unless we are also rising up for something. We contradict error with “the true consciousness of Life as Love…” (cit. S16— 391:7-9, 29-32).

It doesn’t matter how much, or how little we know personally. Even a crumb of Truth carries the authority of omnipotence, and it’s available to all of us in exactly the way we’re able to understand it (cit. S17— 234:4).


SECTION 4: DON’T JUST SAY IT—LIVE IT!

When we hear inspiring words of unity and brotherhood, we like to think we are right on board with it. But talking about it isn’t sufficient. We have to practice it (cit. B17—I John 3:18). We say “practice” because that’s exactly what it takes. As mentioned in the beginning, the world is basically geared toward selfishness and self-interest. Greed, arrogance, indifference, and selfishness are at the root of most inequities. Sometimes an antipathy toward a particular class of people is based on a fear that our familiar ways will be jeopardized through contact with these unfamiliar elements.

Jesus addresses this in an interchange with “a certain lawyer” who asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus turns the question back on him and asks what the commandments say. The lawyer responds, encapsulating the law—to love God completely, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus approves the answer, but then the lawyer asks, “And who is my neighbor?” (cit. B19—Luke 10:25-37). With this question he thought to trap Jesus in an argument. Remember, we said earlier that to the Jews the world was divided into those who were Jews, and those who were not?

Jesus’ reply is brilliant. He tells the story of a Samaritan who was the only one of three people, including a Jewish priest and a Levite, who had compassion on someone who had been robbed, beaten, and left to die on the roadside. You can imagine the heat rising in the lawyer as Jesus presents a Samaritan—whom Jews thought were pagan heretics—as an example of proper behavior.

Jesus’ entire ministry challenged not only the religious establishment but the entire world belief of the nature of love. Our textbook says, “Jesus mapped out the way,” and “unveiled the spiritual idea of divine Love” (cit. S18— 38:24-26). It goes on to explain that Love is the true incentive for healing and teaching; and that “Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way” (cit. S19— 454:17-21). On page 205 (lines 22-29, cit. S20) of Science and Health, the author speaks of the “divine law of loving our neighbor as ourselves.” Most readers of the Lesson are very familiar with all the lengthy citations about the necessity of love taking center stage in the work of spiritual healing and Christian living. I invite you to consider those deeply on your own.

But here, I want to share something you may not have seen regarding the law of loving your neighbor. It’s from an insight of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) a theologian and philosopher whose time was slightly before the discovery of Christian Science. He writes:

“…in loving a friend you really cling to your friend, but in loving your neighbor you cling to God” (Kierkegaard, Works of Love, p.76).

“At a distance every man recognizes his neighbor, and yet it is impossible to see him at a distance. If you do not see him so close that you unconditionally before God see him in every man, you do not see him at all” (Ibid. p. 89).

Mary Baker Eddy, as Discover and Founder of Christian Science, reminds us over and over again, that sweet words or even strong protestations of truth are not enough. In fact, just the words without tenderness and patience, parody “legitimate Christian Science, aflame with divine Love” (cit. S22— 366—12-19, 30).

Before spouting citations to someone in need, take some time to really consider what might be necessary to bring peace to the situation—to reflect patience, and God’s lovingkindness (cit. S23— 365:31). This is the “rightful nutrient” that brings healing.


SECTION 5: LOVE LEADS TO PEACE

Hymn 82 in the Christian Science Hymnal asks, “What can we do to work God’s work, To prosper and increase The brotherhood of all mankind, The reign of the Prince of Peace?” The answer is in the oft-repeated theme in this Lesson—to “love one another” (cit. B20—I John 4:7, 8). In 1st Corinthians, Paul beseeches the brethren to have no divisions among them (cit. B22—I Cor. 1:10). Notice that he’s not giving them a stern command, but rather, addressing them as members of the family. He includes them all on the same side and urges them to avoid schisms. In Romans, Paul reiterates that “love is the fulfilling of the law” (cit. B23—Rom. 13:8-10). When we love another, all the commandments are fulfilled, and thus, all human conflict is erased.

Mary Baker Eddy begins her reasoning from God, not from the problem. Beginning with the premise that divine Love is infinite, we see that everything else that exists “is in and of God, and manifests His Love” (cit. S24— 340:12, 23). She then extrapolates to the natural conclusion that all earthly inequities, woes, wars, sins, and sufferings are displaced in the presence of infinite Love. She speaks of her “weary hope” that this day comes to all—not just to Christian Scientists! (cit. S25— 55:16-21). This is the key throughout the Lesson. In our world full of wars and inequities, crime and vice, polarization and secretiveness, the answer is to love one another. It’s that simple. Is it too much to ask? Well let’s begin where we are and love the neighbor right next to us. To quote our Leader, “Universal Love is the divine way in Christian Science” (cit. S26— 266:18 Universal)


Some GEMs of BIBLE-BASED application ideas (from Cobbey Crisler & others) will be POSTED sooner this week.  You can always check  for current GEMs at CedarS INSPIRATION website, whether or not you’ve  SUBSCRIBED here for this free, inspirational offering.


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


THANKS to all you PRECIOUS DONORS for ALL of your ONGOING SUPPORT!
Every camper & visitor will be blessed by your generosity, vision & LOVE!


ANOTHER MATCH WAS MET and its project operationally completed before camp!  Thanks to several generous donors to our special A/V Appeal we were able to finish building a CHAPEL AV BOOTH that will protect not only new, donated equipment, but also all our hymnals for worship services and for CedarS Sunday Hymn Sings, like tonight’s first one of our Fourth (2-week) Session of 2023!

If you haven’t lately checked out the GIVING TREE, there are still plenty of other smaller areas of need to fill yet this summer! Campers & staff will also be blessed bigtime by the donations made to additional areas of camp, including the horse program, activity equipment, camperships, and Christian Science nursing and practitioner services.

We’re deeply grateful for EVERY GIFT of love & support,
The CedarS Team

P.S. For more about ways to keep CedarS operations ever more green and flourishing and/or to make a planned gift, a required IRA distribution or an ENDOWMENT GIFT (that will all be MATCHED), feel free anytime to call or text me (Warren Huff, Executive Director Emeritus and Project Manager) at 314-378-2574. I can put you in touch with our Financial Advisor/broker who donates all fees for stock transfers and freely shares tailored, tax-advantaged giving approaches.

American Camp Association

MAIN OFFICE
(November - May)
410 Sovereign Court #8
Ballwin, MO 63011
(636) 394-6162

CAMP OFFICE
(Memorial Day Weekend - October)
19772 Sugar Dr.
Lebanon, MO 65536
(417) 532-6699

Support our mission!

CedarS Camps

Back
to top