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Magnify the Good!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Reality”
for March 22-28, 2021

by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Godfrey, IL
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683; cell/text (630) 234-3987

Click to Hear “Magnify the Good!” Craig’s Met on “Reality” – CedarS Camps

The Golden Text is an example of a standard format for Hebrew prayer. The petitioner begins by remembering all the good things that God has done for him and Israel—more than can be counted. This is much more than simply looking on the bright side in order to minimize your troubles. It’s focusing thought on reality.

Generally, people tend to magnify their problems rather than the good things. Even a mosquito bite can be so distracting that we can forget that 99.99% of our body doesn’t itch at all. Instead of being transfixed by the problem, why not focus on the good? There’s a lot of buzz these days about being mindful and living intentionally. I have found that from a metaphysical standpoint, living intentionally means taking ownership of your thinking, and deciding for yourself what you want to focus on rather than letting your body, or circumstances decide for you.

Throughout the Bible we have sterling examples of magnifying the good. Even in the midst of the deepest challenges, believers look whole-heartedly to God. The Responsive Reading fleshes out the understanding that no matter where we are—or think we are—no matter how difficult the circumstance, we are always guided, cared for, and protected by God. Note that the psalmist isn’t blindly ignoring challenges. He notices them, but he’s neither distracted nor consumed by them. Confident that everything that befalls him works for good in his experience, the psalmist welcomes correction of any wayward thoughts. His approach is effective because, as this Lesson points out, only the good is real. Paul finishes with the strong conviction “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

Section 1: Keep an Eye On Your Thinking

How closely do we watch our thoughts? I would suspect that a large percentage of the time we are either accepting every thought that floats in, or operating on autopilot—moving around and doing things, without thinking much. Set a timer for just two minutes and see how many different thoughts you have in that time, and how wide-ranging they are. Even if you are trying to focus on one thing for just two minutes, it’s very difficult. Philippians 4, verses 8 and 9 (B1) counsel us to think only on good things. Give that a shot and see how long you last.

It doesn’t take long to realize how scattered and undisciplined our thoughts can be. God’s thoughts, on the other hand, are never random or frivolous. As Jeremiah says, they have a purpose and an aim. There’s no doubt, or question as to how things will end up (B2—Jer. 29:11). God’s word and His thought are one and the same. And everything God thinks is good, perfect, and real.

“The counsel of the heathen” (B3—Ps. 33:10) is the never-ending banter of theory and argument that just prattles on in a non-stop stream. We have to cut off that “unthinking flow” and take possession of our thoughts. God’s thoughts aren’t randomly fluctuating. Infinite Mind doesn’t think in a linear way with one thought at a time: God thinks only good thoughts— all at once. It bears repeating that focusing on and magnifying the good isn’t living in some fairy tale. Prophets often point out very strongly the wrong in human experience. But, as Isaiah 25:1 (B4) illustrates, the emphasis is on exalting God and the wonderful things He has done. God’s thoughts are faithfulness and truth—we can rely on them without fail.

In Science and Health we read: “The starting point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all…” (S1—SH 276:6). The Student’s Reference Dictionary defines “All-in-all” as “all things to a person, or everything desired.” Is God really your All-in-all? One creative thinker I know suggests that periodically throughout each day we pause for a “reality check” of sorts. He calls it finding “a point of certainty.” For him, it’s as simple as considering the fact that he knows he has a left hand. This may seem a bit odd for Christian Scientists, and I’m not suggesting you practice this, but it makes a point. I heard years ago, that during World War II the Nazis practiced mental warfare and tried to implant fear into the minds of the Allied forces—especially those on submarines. I may be remembering this incorrectly, but I believe it was the British who were told that in order to combat this negative malicious mental influence, they should recite the alphabet mentally so that clear simple certainty would occupy the minds of the sailors and block out fearful thoughts.

That’s pretty basic. Mary Baker Eddy says, in Christian Science, our metaphysical starting point is to reckon God as the “divine Principle of all that really is” (S1—SH 275:10). Now that’s “a certainty” worth holding on to!

When we silence the flow of wandering, random, and untamed notions with the certainty of God, Spirit will fill us, and uplift our consciousness. Spiritual understanding helps us distinguish the line between what’s real and what isn’t. But here’s the kicker—this understanding isn’t the result of an intellectual exercise. “…it is the reality of all things brought to light” (S2—SH 505:16-17, 20-29).

We have to admit, that’s a fairly radical point of view. Here is another one: God neither created error, permits it, nor knows anything about it. Yup! You heard that right. Most of the world—if they believe in God at all—operates from the standpoint that God knows everything including evil. Mary Baker Eddy didn’t see it that way. In fact, she goes so far as to say that’s impossible. If God knew evil it would be real, and if it’s real, God must have made it that way (S4—SH 474:26-29). If He did, there’s no way we could ever do anything about it. We’d be either stuck with it, or we’d be stronger than God for being able to reverse something He created.

Mary Baker Eddy stayed true to her divine logic, thereby enabling her to confidently declare that God, Truth is real, and error is unreal (S5—SH 368:2-4). That’s a “mic-drop” moment if there ever was one!

Section 2: “It Jus’ Tain’t So Honey! It Jus’ Tain’t So!!”

Jesus had no problem focusing on what was real. I was told once of a Southern Christian Science practitioner long ago who had a similar response to every complaint a patient called her with: “It jus’ tain’t so honey! It jus’ tain’t so!!”

While Jesus didn’t use those words, they are similar to the net effect of his response. In this week’s Lesson, we read of a man possessed by “an unclean spirit.” Commentators think that this was the result of some moral corruption within the man, causing him to accommodate the demon in the first place. So here was a man who had not been watching his evil thoughts and was overtaken by them. As is often the case, the most corrupted individual is the loudest to protest—especially against something or somebody obviously good. Jesus, unimpressed by the obstinacy, rebuked the evil spirit. Of course, it didn’t go quietly, and prior to departing, it threw the man into convulsions. Jesus remained unimpressed, and onlookers were amazed at Jesus’ healing power. One way or another Jesus was constantly facing opposition to his mission. But in all cases, he refused to be distracted.

Distractions come in all types—sometimes through resistance, and sometimes even through adulation. Jesus didn’t take the bait in either case. He told them this power wasn’t his own, but God’s. Despite ongoing misunderstanding about his work, Jesus always met the situation with dominion. In The Message, a paraphrase of the New Testament in contemporary language, Eugene Peterson puts one of Jesus’ replies this way: “I arrive on the scene, tell you the plain truth, and you refuse to have anything to do with me. Can any one of you convict me of a single misleading word, a single sinful act? But if I’m telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?” While it’s true that Jesus certainly did bring a new approach to theology, he did not come to overturn the law of God. He came to fulfill it. Whatever form sickness took, Jesus rebuked it and healed it.

Science and Health points out that Jesus was patient with students and detractors alike (S6—SH 136:32-1). In addition to our conclusion that there’s no way God could produce evil, we have a logical extension—that a good God could not, and would not produce sickness either (S7—SH 474:16-20). To human sense, sin, sickness, and mortality seem to be unavoidable. But as Christ wakens us to the spiritual reality, we see that the mortal picture is an illusory dream. Our textbook tells us, “Reality is spiritual, harmonious, immutable, immortal, divine, eternal” (S9—SH 335:27). If it’s not spiritual, it’s not real. Even in the face of Mary Baker Eddy’s straightforward statement, we tend to just accept what the senses report. Christian Science teaches us to “stick to the truth of being in contradistinction to the error that life, substance, or intelligence can be in matter” (S11—SH 418:5). We should always plead the case for truth. The myriad chaos of material circumstances does not define or dictate reality. Reality is governed by fixed truth.

Section 3: Don’t Believe Pretenders

At CedarS Camps, we sometimes do a little challenge where a group of campers are blindfolded and try to get around obstacles between point A and point B, while helpers call out directions. That seems simple enough until we add another group of “adversaries” also calling out mis-directions. It helps if you recognize the voice of your helper and you pay no attention to the ones trying to confuse you. In our lives, we have competing and often conflicting impulses too. Proverbs cautions us to not be enticed by evil (B10—Prov. 1:10).

Not all enticements are obvious. The book of Acts refers to false prophets. These pretenders seem like they are on your side, when in fact, they are drawing you further away from spiritual reality. Paul wasn’t fooled. He saw right through them. He called them out for their deceptions, and the account says in one case, they immediately fell into a mist and darkness (B11—Acts 13:9-11). In 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4 (B12) Paul says, the gospel is “hid to them that are lost.” He says, the god of this world blinds us from seeing reality. As one commentator puts it, sin hinders our view:

The spiritual nerve is destroyed. The retina of the mind is out of order. The right image is not formed… Something has come in between you and truth. You look through a darkening medium, over a thick world. A big sin hinders the view. Heaven is eclipsed. You cannot see God. (James Nisbet’s Church Pulpit Commentary)

Mary Baker Eddy has a similar take on it when she writes that believing matter has intelligence is like being in a fog that disperses when the light of truth shines (S12—SH 205:15). This belief of life in matter, and good and evil co-mingling obscures the true view from us. Do you ever feel like one of the lost?

To find our way, we have to learn that all evil—just like those false prophets—is no more than a deception. When it presents itself as capable of overpowering us, we can rely on these words from Science and Health: “evil is not supreme; good is not helpless…” (S15—SH 207:9-13). That’s really important. We have to realize that evil only has the power we allow it. It’s nothing unless we believe and accept it. It’s up to us to refuse to go along with it. And if we find it difficult to say, “No” to evil, we can recall that saying, “Yes” to God is easier. If we really love good we’ll pursue it, and the results will be clearly seen (S16—SH 239:20).

Section 4: We’re All on the Same Team

One of the places we’d expect to find safety and support is in the church. After all, Jesus said that people would recognize his followers by their love for one another. Yet from the beginning, the church has struggled with disagreements and factions.

Paul writes to the Corinthians that he’s been told of divisions among them, and he has some reason to believe it’s true (B13—I Cor. 11:18). Commentators speculate that the disagreements were often over procedural rather than theological issues. Paul yearned for those reports not to be true, but based on the number of letters he and the apostles wrote concerning disunity in the church, it must have been an ongoing problem. These church relationship challenges are evident in the Old Testament as well. In Malachi 2:10 (B15), the prophet appeals to his listeners, “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?” On the surface this could seem like a simple plea for brotherhood, but there’s more to it when viewed in context.

Originally, this was an indictment against Jews who were forsaking their Jewish wives and marrying pagans. According to Matthew Poole (1624-1679), since the Jews’ return from exile in Babylon this was a common problem among both laymen and priests. Everybody was doing it. Today, we might view this as a caution about any habits or worldly thinking we pick up or bring into the church. We could ask, “What worldly beliefs are we married to? What do we invite into our mental home, to cherish and live with, that pulls us away from the family of God?

James 3:14 (B16) specifically mentions envy as something we should watch for. The Biblical Illustrator points out that even a fine man mostly “free from every sinful appetite of the flesh” may fall to envy:

He may be a philosopher, he may dwell speculatively in the region of the abstract and the ideal, and yet his soul be full of this corroding malice. Envy is also the most purely evil. Almost every other passion, even acknowledged to be sinful, has in it somewhat of good or appearance of good. But envy or hatred of a man for the good that is in him, or in any way pertains to him, is evil unalloyed. It is the breath of the old serpent. It is pure devil, as it is also purely spiritual [which he means to be “mental”]. It is a soul-poison…

In Ephesians 4:31 (B17) we are counseled to “put away” bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking. John Trapp (1601-1669) tells us this means to “pray it down presently” lest it grow out of hand. I love that idea—to “pray it down” as quickly as possible. We tend to let things linger, or treat them half-heartedly, but we must deal with them promptly.

Science and Health teaches that the remedy for divisions is to recognize that all men have one Mind (S17—SH 469:30-5). Discord is a belief of many competing minds, and is not our natural state. Harmony is the true state of man because we are all brethren. Many of the disputes in the church are over procedures and “rules.” In Christian Science churches, members generally employ the term “Principle” during these “discussions.” However, we should remember that the divine Principle is Love. The word “rule” comes from a word meaning trellis. We know a trellis is used to lift vines off of the ground, and then train them upward in order to bear more fruit. So, rather than Principle being harsh and stern, it’s actually gentle, leading us heavenward, encouraging the production of more fruit. Our textbook invites us to “learn of the real and eternal, and prepare for the reign of Spirit, the kingdom of heaven” (S19—SH 208:20). In order to be in harmony with God, we can’t let ourselves be distracted by personal squabbles. We must be governed by reality—the reality that God is the only Mind. We should no more concede to church discord than to bodily discord (S20—SH 186:22-24).

Don’t be impressed if you see turmoil within the ranks of the brethren. Work on, trusting that the understanding of the omnipotence and oneness of Mind is the only reality, and watch it work.

Section 5: Is There Anything That’s “Too Much”?

In Romans 8:35 (B18) Paul poses the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” I had always thought of that as meaning nothing that happened could ever separate the Christ from loving and protecting me. But theologian Adam Clarke (c1760-1832) offers a different reading. He writes, “the question is not, Who shall separate the love of Christ from us? or prevent Christ from loving us? but, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Who or what shall be able to remove our affection from him?” Clarke’s viewpoint causes us to ponder the question—Is there anything that could diminish our faith, or cause us to lose our love for God? For that to happen we’d have to be convinced that either something other than God was real, or that God was not what we thought He was.

Paul declares that he is “persuaded” that nothing could separate him from the love of Christ. Contemporary pastor Mark Dunagan points out that according to Robertson’s Word Pictures In the New Testament the phrase, “I am persuaded” means, “I stand convinced.” He goes on to say,

This is the key, as to why some Christians fail and others succeed. It all comes down to “conviction, faith, trust.” The person that can’t allow themselves to trust God, will fail! The good news is “trust” is something that we have control over. We don’t have control over the “externals nor many of the circumstances,” but we do have control over what we choose to believe! And “who” we choose to trust.

Paul proved that trust through many severe trials. One time while he was preaching late into the night a young man dozed off into a deep sleep and fell to his death from the third loft (B19—Acts 20:7-12).

Now let’s think about Paul for a bit. We can’t really know for sure what he was feeling but imagine what he might have been tempted to feel. He could have been embarrassed that such a tragedy happened while he was speaking. He could have felt guilty that he realized he loved the sound of his own voice more than the needs of his listeners. How would you feel if this happened when you were preaching? For most people when someone’s dead, it’s too late to do anything about it, and we’d probably feel awful. The old sayings about life being fragile could loom pretty large. Someone might also be overwhelmed by irony and superstition—“Just when things were looking good, this guy falls out of the window!”

Apparently, Paul wasn’t fazed by any of this. He didn’t get thrown off, or think about what bad luck it was, or how this accident could undo everything he just preached. Paul didn’t skip a beat. He went to him and held him, and the young man revived. Why? Because Paul knew that the material picture of death and accident weren’t real. God is Life and God is the only real.

I don’t know about you, but there have been many times that I was feeling really good about my prayer, sometimes coming home from what I thought was a great talk I’d given, or after reading a church service—just flying high—and shortly after, WHAM! Something happens that puts all that to the test. It could be anything from irritation over the tiniest thing to a huge problem; but something happens to undo all the good feelings I’ve just had.

We’re reminded in Galatians 5:25 (B20) that if we intend to live in the Spirit, we need to walk in the Spirit. What does that mean? Rev. John Milne of Perth writes, “What is a man’s walk? It is his whole life, his whole conduct, outward and inward all he thinks, feels, desires, speaks, does, suffers. To walk in the Spirit is to have the Holy Ghost originating, directing, controlling, and governing all these.”

This describes a consistency of faith and an unwavering adherence to the supremacy of God, Spirit, Life, in the face of any and all material sense testimony to the contrary. No matter how real the human picture seems, the only true reality is what God is knowing, seeing, and doing. Mary Baker Eddy had such a stand, and she maintained it where other theologians did not. For her, if God was real, and God was Life, there is no death; and any evidence of death is false. She wrote, “Spirit is the life, substance, and continuity of all things” (S23—SH 124:25-26). She affirms that sin, sickness, and death only seem real, and that, “They are not true because they are not of God” (S25—SH 186:25 (only)). She even goes so far as to say, “man’s mortality is a myth” (SH26—SH 545:32-1).

What the Discoverer of Christian Science says about the reality of Life and the unreality of death is unlike anything I’ve found elsewhere. Just take the time to really ponder and absorb the citations in this section and especially citation 28 (SH 427:1-9, 30) in Science and Health. It’s remarkable. Here are a few extracts:

If it is true that man lives, this fact can never change in Science [in reality] to the opposite belief that man dies…Man’s individual being can no more die nor disappear in unconsciousness than can Soul, for both are immortal…Thought will waken from its own material declaration, “I am dead,” to catch this trumpet-word of Truth, “There is no death, no inaction, diseased action, overaction, nor reaction.”

The author of these words promises that as we understand this, our days will be lengthened (S29—SH 487:27). Having this conviction gives us the power to overcome every challenge no matter how daunting it may seem.

Section 6: Sticking with It Will Do You Good—Really!

Though it seems to have rather broad application, the context of John’s third letter offers some interesting insights (B21—III John 1:2,4,11). The letter is written to Gaius, whom commentators say, was suffering from some long-standing illness. This is why Paul wished that his health be in as fine a shape as his soul. As we’ve discussed, it’s easy to be holy-minded when things are going well, but when the climb is up-hill, keeping the faith is not as easy. Thus, John is expressing his admiration not for fair weather Christians, but for those who are consistent when tried, and remain in the truth.

Peter also encourages us to carry on irrespective of resistance (B22—I Peter 3:13). In The Message Eugene Peterson paraphrases Peter’s words like this: “If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped?” If we read beyond this citation in the lesson, Peter goes on to say, “Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought.” That type of outlook is what gets us through the challenges on to victory.

Science and Health buoys us up with the reminder that the challenges we face aren’t real. The real man is and always has been perfect so there’s nothing to change. Having this true idea of what’s real, we lose all fear or sense of evil (S31—SH 325:2-5). The Lesson finishes with the simple truth: “The spiritual reality is the scientific fact in all things” (S32—SH 207:27). As we magnify the good nothing can convince us otherwise.


CLICK below for more APPLICATION IDEAS for this Lesson from CedarS-team:


Enjoy OPPORTUNITIES for SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT with fresh insights WEEKLY!

CedarS Sunday Hymn Sings every Sunday! Don’t miss CedarS TWO special Easter Sunday Hymn Sings by Andrew Brewis of the UK! You can sing along with Andrew and hundreds of friends worldwide the 8 hymns he wrote for the 2017 Christian Science Hymnal, as well as several favorite Easter hymns! Click here for fuller, special details.

Invite family, church and other friends and even neighbors to join us by Zoom every week at 7pm Central Time for CedarS Sunday Hymn Sings. (A precious prelude precedes each sing at 6:45pm CT.) We encourage singing along in Zoom’s gallery view to share the joy of seeing dear ones in virtual family-church reunions that bless all generations.

To protect privacy and copyrights, these “brief, but spectacular” sessions are NOT recorded. So, calibrate your time-zone clocks, mark your calendars, and remind friends, so that no one misses any of these inspiring, weekly reminders of our precious, spiritual oneness with each other and with our ever-loving, Father-Mother God who owns and embraces us all!

Lovingly singing prayers and praise to God for 30 minutes each Sunday is such a warm, “Welcome Home” tradition to bless the start of each week with joyous, peaceful GRACE. (Our 2021 theme.) We have loved singing-in this grace with longtime as well as first-time friends—not only from ALL 50 of the United States, but also from 21 other countries! So far, our “Hymn Sing family” has clicked or dialed-in from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, England, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, as well as from each of the United States! In the universal language of divine Love, thestill, small voice”’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe’s remotest bound.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 559:8–10)


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