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Matter is nothing but a graven image.  Reject it by acknowledging the Allness of God!
Metaphysical Lesson Application Ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

Matter
for March 13 – 19, 2023

By Kathy Fitzer of Lake St. Louis, MO
kathyfitzer@gmail.com


INTRODUCTION, GOLDEN TEXT, AND RESPONSIVE READING

The answer to the question, “What is the scientific statement of being?” given in the Christian Science textbook, begins: “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 468:8-11).  As you study this week’s Lesson, I invite you to look for references to this theme. I also invite you to look for definitions of matter, and consider why matter truly can have no life, truth, or intelligence — no place, power, or control — in the allness of Mind, Spirit.  It can only pretend to have power — just as an idol made of gold can only pretend to be God!

The GOLDEN TEXT starts by acknowledging God as the sole creator of all that truly is.  This one God gives life and breath to all of creation.  Furthermore, the Divine does not share any power or glory — weight, honor, or dignity — with graven images (with matter).  Regardless of how much something tries to pass itself off as having power to govern us, if its source is mortal (subject to change, decay, and dissolution), it is a graven image and totally devoid of power.

The RESPONSIVE READING continues this theme, reminding us that “our Lord is above all gods.”  The Principle that is Love is more powerful than anything that would attempt to pull us away from the almighty power of Good. The idols of today aren’t as obvious as those of the ancient, pagan world.  We’re not even tempted to think that an image made from gold or silver could either help or hurt us.  But, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to contend with modern-day idols or graven images.

Graven images these days come in a variety of forms, and seem to be constantly changing.  It may take some honest alertness to identify them for ourselves — and we don’t want to spend too much time focused on the negative, but it’s important to not get mindlessly sucked in by the various forms of matter which boast of having power, but do not!  These idols, can range from concerns or obsessions about money and status, to reports from the body, to addictive behaviors … even to the draw of our phones and social media, other games, and sensational news reports.  You name it!  It can be a pretty long list …, but there’s not an ounce of power in any of it!

As we put our trust in God, Divine Love — to care for us, love us, and guide us — we will not be “put to confusion”.  Truly, God is our “rock and foundation”, our “strong habitation” and is always there to turn to, take refuge in, and lean on — regardless of the storm of temptations that would try to knock us down.  The metaphysical theme of CedarS CampS this summer is .. “For storm or shine, pure peace is thine, What’er betide” from Mary Baker Eddy’s poem,  “Satisfied”.  This is God’s promise to us as we refuse to be side-tracked by today’s modern material idols, and see Mind as supreme!

I was especially struck by the 1st Timothy instruction to avoid “vain babblings, and opposition of science falsely so called.”  (I Tim. 6:20, Responsive Reading) The body babbles at us all the time and human sciences often predict decline, injury or disaster.  We need to challenge and turn away from anything that does not promote the lasting goodness of God — of Truth!


SECTION 1:  THE ALLNESS OF MIND EXCLUDES THE POSSIBILITY OF MATTER

A foundational theme running throughout the Bible is that there is no power other than God (citation B5, Romans 13:1), God understands all things, and God does the doing … or, as Job puts it, “he is in one mind, and who can turn him?  For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me” (cit. B2, Job 23:13,14).  It’s ALL God!!  No room for anything else.

It sure takes off the pressure to realize we’re not the source of anything, but the expression of all that is good! When I started writing this, I had just finished studying the Lesson on Mind from February.  I was struck by the repetition of the questions from Job that appear in citation B3 this week, and were part of the Responsive Reading in February.  Basically, where do wisdom and understanding come from, and how do we get them? We are told that God is their source, and they can’t be bought (citation B3, Job 28:12,15,20,23).  So, if they can’t be bought, they must be the gift of God, freely given to all!

Is matter part of that wisdom of God? Human reasoning argues that, in fact matter is all there is, or that “Mind and matter coexist and cooperate” (cit. S3, 269:29). But… if we accept that God is all (infinite), and that God is Mind, it’s not logical that matter (which is limited and limiting) could dwell in infinite, unlimited Mind.  Consider this logic: “If what opposes God is real, there must be two powers, and God is not supreme and infinite” (cit. S4, 467:29-3).  But, throughout the ages it has been demonstrated that God, Spirit, is supreme and infinite!  And that is why Christian Science defines “matter as error, because it is the opposite of life, substance, and intelligence” (cit. S7, 278:29-30). Regardless of how real and tangible matter seems, it truly “is a material, human, mortal thought, always governing itself erroneously” (cit. S6, 282:23).  So, mortal thought — alias matter — can simply be thought of as the counterfeit of Mind … worthless!

And, I’m just going to throw in here that I have known people who have struggled so much with this subject — have found it so hard to accept the nothingness (or even the powerlessness) of matter — that they’ve turned away from Christian Science.  This is just my view, but I think it is important to accept what we can of the teachings of Christian Science and trust that God will lead us step-by-step to understand more.  Don’t give up on the part that does make sense because some part seems out of reach at the moment.  Love is gently leading each one!


SECTION 2: IDOLATRY (BELIEF IN MATTER) MUST BE TOTALLY DESTROYED

At some point, Israel turned from the God they had relied on for so long and started worshiping idols.  As we read in Jeremiah, they had “forsaken [God] the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water (cit. B6, Jeremiah 2:5, 11, 13).  To me this is a reminder for us.  Are we placing our faith in unlimited God or in limited and limiting matter that cannot sustain us?

An important question is posed at the beginning of this section: “When will it be understood that matter has neither intelligence, life, nor sensation, and that the opposite belief is the prolific source of all suffering?” (cit. S9, 205:7-12) This again takes us back to the Scientific Statement of Being.  We hear this statement read every Sunday and probably repeat it often.  But, do we realize how important it is to really accept and understand the truth of it as we seek to find freedom from the limitations and challenges that plague us and our world?  We’re not being asked to ignore matter or pretend it’s not there.  We’re being given a way to understand that because God, Mind, is all, there can’t be any power in Mind’s suppositional opposite, matter.  As the Christian Science textbook states,  “…the might of omnipotent Spirit shares not its strength with matter or with human will” (cit. S8, 193:32-2).

Matter (with its false pains and pleasures) is the graven image that we’re tempted to worship these days. In ancient times, statues were worshipped, while today statuesque bodies are often given the most thought, glory and worship.  Our matter models may seem to be more logical preoccupations to accept, but to the degree that they distract us, and prevent us from recognizing God, Mind, as the only source of good, the only power, and the only life, truth, intelligence and substance,  these modern material idols are equally important to destroy.

I wasn’t familiar with the story about idolatry that we have in this section from I Kings, chapter 13.  At a festival in Bethel, where Israel’s idolatry had begun, King Jeroboam was making a sacrifice to golden calves he had set up. An unnamed prophet appeared and declared that the altar would be broken and the ashes spilled — total destruction.  When King Jeroboam heard this, he reached out to have the prophet arrested.  As he did, not only did the altar break and the ashes spill, but Jeroboam’s arm and hand were paralyzed. In his desperation, the king begged for his arm to be healed by the prophet’s God. His prayer was answered.  His arm was healed. (cit. B8, I Kings 13:1,3-6).  Unfortunately, the king and the people did not give up their idolatrous ways.  It would be in excess of another 300 years before Israel would completely turn from their idol worship.

So, what does all of this have to do with us? One thing that came to me is that we need to be sure we’re not just turning to God when we’re in trouble and looking for comfort in matter — and then after the healing, quickly turn back to our old patterns of thought, as King Jeroboam did.  It also occurred to me that we can think of the total destruction of the altar as leaving no place in thought for the mental ashes of belief in, or fear of, matter to abide. Citation S11 defines matter as, “the subjective state of what is termed by the author mortal mind” (SH p.114:23).  Matter isn’t something outside of thought. This means that as thought changes, the outward expression of that thought — the material condition, so called — must also change.  The goal is to shift our perspective (turn from the dark to the light, from the distorted view to the accurate) to see and experience the reality of God’s infinite, limitless creation that is ever-present.  As we read further in the textbook, “You embrace your body in your thought, and you should delineate upon it thoughts of health, not of sickness. You should banish all thoughts of disease and sin and of other beliefs included in matter” (cit. S12, 208:25-2).

Our deep desire should be to totally give up faith in matter (the idol of today), and to constantly turn to God for direction in all things. This is the goal.  We do our best to achieve it.  And, so I find this statement from Science and Health encouraging:  “…the human self must be evangelized [that is, converted]. This task God demands us to accept lovingly to-day, and to abandon so fast as practical the material, and to work out the spiritual which determines the outward and actual” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 254:19).   Love meets every need — always.  Our job is to watch thought and do the best we can to trust God, and refuse to make a god of (be afraid of or honor) matter’s false presentations that parade in front of us.  Let the altars of all matter models be destroyed and the ashes be poured out!


SECTION 3:  THE AUTHORITY OF SPIRIT ESTABLISHES OUR VALUE — AND HEALS

I love this report of the healing of the woman who, for eighteen years was “so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn’t even look up” (cit. B12, Luke 13:11-17, The Message).  Jesus shot down the “supposed laws of matter” which suggest that some things are harder to heal than others, or that matter can resist healing, as certainly as he shot down the “sabbath laws” that said healing should only happen on certain days. The rulers acknowledged that they took care of their livestock on the sabbath, but indignantly suggested that the woman should wait until another day to be healed.  Ironically, we have no record that the woman asked to be healed on the Sabbath. Jesus reached out to her. 

What struck me this week was Jesus’ emphasis on the value of this woman as the child of God. Paul wrote, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (cit. B13, Romans 8:16). As God’s children, we are valued — loved and cared for — by the Mind that forms us. It is Spirit that testifies to our identity — not matter!  This is why we can (and must) “maintain the facts of Christian Science, — that Spirit is God, and therefore cannot be sick; that what is termed matter cannot be sick; that all causation is Mind, acting through spiritual law” (cit. S18, 417:10-16).  As we hold to this position, the false material evidence must yield to the truth of Spirit.

Many of us can relate to feeling as though we’ve been dealing with something for so long that we don’t seem to be able to “look up” sufficiently to see God’s presence and our inherent freedom. The healing of this woman was a demonstration of Jesus’ understanding that there is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter!

Mary Baker Eddy clearly states that “Spirit, God, is infinite, all.  Spirit can have no opposite.”  And, she goes on to explain that the misperception “that matter is substantial or has life and sensation, is one of the false beliefs of mortals, and exists only in a supposititious mortal consciousness.  Hence, as we approach Spirit and Truth, we lose the consciousness of matter” (cit. S15, 278:8-16). Accepting the allness of Mind, as Jesus did, we can feel and experience the reign of Spirit!


SECTION 4:  RECOGNIZING NO INTELLIGENCE IN MATTER BRINGS INSIGHT

Jesus proved that understanding and insight come directly from God and are not restricted by one’s level of education nor dependent on material testimony.  The Pharisees were baffled by Jesus’ knowledge of the scriptures because he hadn’t gone through the formal training they had received.  But, Jesus understood that God was the source of his understanding (cit. B15, John 7:2, 14-26).  We can be encouraged by that whenever we find ourselves in a situation for which we feel unprepared or in over our heads.  As Elihu observed (in the story of Job), “there is a spirit in man:  and the inspiration of the almighty giveth them understanding” (cit. B17, Job 32:8).  This understanding supersedes human knowledge or human wisdom.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees because, although they could read the material signs, such as forecasting the weather based on the color of the sky, they had missed the signs showing that Jesus was the promised Messiah (cit. B16, Matthew 16:1-3).  In the chapter just before this we read of Jesus healing the multitudes and feeding the four thousand.  And, yet, the Pharisees and Sadducees ask Jesus to show them a sign. It is later in this chapter that Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is, and Peter identifies him as the Christ.

Again … what lesson is there here for us?  We have to ask ourselves … are we accepting the outward appearances, or judging according to the Science of creation? To follow Jesus’ example, we must “seek to apprehend the spiritual ideas of God, [rather] than to dwell on the objects of sense” (cit. S20: 509:29-4).  There is nothing wrong with human knowledge.  But, it is vital that we recognize (as Jesus did) that, in reality, we’re not dealing with a combination of Mind and matter. Mind is the only basis of being!

We must recognize that “life and intelligence are [NOT] in or of matter” (cit. S22, 279:16-19, 26).   Rather than being disturbed by all of the discord that seems to be going on around us (and in our personal lives), we can let Mind reveal that right here, right now, spiritual Truth is swallowing up all discord (cit. S23, 96:12). Don’t be fooled by false evidence!  Mind gives us the insight needed to perceive life as Jesus perceived it — governed by God and all good!


SECTION 5:  THE GOODNESS OF SPIRIT ELIMINATES THE OPPOSITION OF MATTER

Every citation in this section refers to God (which is Spirit) as being good and being all.  We read in Psalms, “the goodness of God endureth continually” (cit. B19, Psalm 52:1).  Christian Science explains that “the fact is that Spirit is good and real, and matter is Spirit’s opposite” (cit. S24, viii:9-12).

Just because something has an opposite, it doesn’t mean that opposite has any power, or is even a real entity.  Darkness can’t be measured (has no substance) and certainly doesn’t have power to overtake light.   2+2 equals 4. Stating the opposite of that — saying that 2+2 does not equal 4 — doesn’t change the fact.   In life, the fact (as stated in Science and Health) is that “all that is made is the work of God, and all is good” (cit. S28, 521:5-6).  So, when faced with anything that is not good, we can be firm in arguing that if it is not good, it is not true.  It is the suggestion of matter, rather than Spirit, and is neither to be feared nor valued.

As I was driving west on I-80 a few weeks ago, very convincing mirages continually appeared on the road, making the pavement look wet and slippery ahead.  They disappeared, however, as I drew nearer.   It was important to be alert, because there were some slick, snowy spots. But, with understanding, I could discern the difference.  Similarly, as we understand the nature of matter as being only the suppositional opposite of omnipotent and omnipresent Spirit, we can be confident that we will be able to discern the illusive nature of the mirage of matter.  And, no matter how convincing matter’s report appears to be, it will disappear as we fearlessly move forward, understanding that Spirit is all, and is all good!

I had a lovely experience driving to church recently.  I unintentionally found myself on a street that was snow-covered and steep and I saw no option but to continue.  I’m not an experienced snow-driver so I turned to Mind to tell me what to do and how to proceed.  I was able to do what I needed to do, and was very grateful.  But, the best part was once I got onto level, clear ground, the clear message came … “and just as I took care of you on that street, I will take care of all your needs!”  To me, that is Spirit’s message to all of us.  There is no suggestion of matter (which is only Spirit’s suppositional opposite) that is beyond the control of God, infinite Love!


SECTION 6:  OPPOSITES (SPIRIT AND MATTER) CANOT MINGLE

This last section reinforces the message of the entire Lesson — and the message of several recent Lessons, for that matter. Simply put, it is logical to ask, “If Spirit is all and is everywhere, what and where is matter” (cit. S29, 223:7-9)  In order to demonstrate this fact in our lives, we need to follow the instructions from I Thessalonians.  First, “Quench not the Spirit.”  That is, don’t let mortal fears or mortal, material testimony extinguish or suffocate the truth of the omnipresence of Spirit, which is all good.  And, then, “Prove (test and scrutinize) all things; hold fast (don’t let go of) that which is good” (cit. B23, I Thessalonians 5:19, 21).

As we hold on to that which is good, that which is not good, must yield because it’s impossible to think opposite thoughts at the same time.  We read, “a straight line finds no abiding-place in a curve, and a curve finds no adjustment to a straight line.  Similarly, matter has no place in Spirit, and Spirit has no place in matter.  At no point can these opposites mingle or unite” (cit. S30, 282:14-17, 20-21).  And, so, good and bad cannot mingle or unite in our experience — in any form.

Although it doesn’t always seem easy, as we persist — and as we know that God enables us to do all things — we can see through the lie of matter.  “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience, proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts” (cit. S32, 261:4). Taking it thought by thought — we do the best we can.

Claiming that we reflect the Mind of Christ, we rejoice that our thinking is the reflection of what Mind knows — which is only good.  And, if we slip and find ourselves arguing on the side of matter — that which is not true (not of God) —we just turn back to what is true and continue on our way.  Just like a lost hiker getting back on the right trail.  As we persist, knowing the allness of Spirit and the nothingness of matter, we will see reality more and more clearly!

Have a great week, rejoicing that the graven image calling itself matter has no life, truth, intelligence nor power!  ALL there is is the unlimited goodness of Mind, Spirit, God!


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


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“POETIC POSTLUDE”
contributions related to this Bible Lesson.


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