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[Choose to rise up from unreality, serve God alone, and be free!]
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on:
Unreality
for April 1—7, 2013
By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett)
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683

As I ponder the Golden Text of this week’s Bible Lesson, I can’t help but think of Bob Dylan’s song, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” The message of the song is, no matter who you are, or what your job, or status may be, you’re “gonna have to serve somebody.”  We don’t always think of our choices in life in terms of who we are serving, but as St. Paul writes, “Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him to whom you obey…?” (B12 Amplified Bible). Service is somewhat of a paradox.  We often think of servitude as forced, however, genuine service isn’t done under threat or duress, but is offered willingly and freely.  Yet when we give another dominion over us, in essence we become a servant.  The difficulty is that we often yield our freedom unwittingly to things and people we shouldn’t, and also occasionally find ourselves enmeshed in a system of servitude that is forced upon us.

That brings me to another point.  Generally speaking, it’s safe to say that nobody wants to think of themselves enslaved, or a servant to anyone or anything.  In most ways of thinking, freedom to choose, and liberty to follow that choice is a paramount and basic human right.  Wars, both civil and international, are often fueled by the yearning for the right to freedom, self-government, and self-determination.  Thousands over the centuries have been willing to give their lives in the struggle for freedom.  Here I’m reminded of the Victor Hugo novel Les Miserables.  I was aware of the story from overhearing the soundtrack to the musical wafting out of my daughter’s room over the years, but until I saw the film last fall, I hadn’t realized how powerful a message it has.  I have to admit that I was weeping in the first few minutes and often throughout.  The story has many messages, but in connection with this Lesson, I’m thinking about the choices the characters make.  They are consistently faced with choosing their course of actions based on who and what they serve.  The devotion and fervency each character has to his or her cause is inspiring.

While we readily oppose oppression when it comes to civil liberties, are we as fervent in our devotion to God?  Would we put everything we have on the line to be free from ungodly influences?

In the Responsive Reading (R.R.), the psalmist rejoices that the law of God is a fixed fact, a proven reliable source of inspiration, protection, and guidance.  The closer he adheres to the law, the greater his spiritual knowledge becomes.  All CedarS campers know how important it is to have a light with them in a cave.  The light not only shows the way, but also reveals every precipice, obstacle, and alternative path.  The word of God is a light to our life, [as thousands are reminded at CedarS every year by this R.R. quote carved in granite at the base of Bible Time Travelers Trail: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Ps. 119:105.]  When faced with a choice of direction, we can know that by serving God, His law will point the way.  Nothing anyone can try to do to distract us, [hurt us.] or turn us from our heavenward path can succeed.  Our devotion and service to goodness will keep us safe.

Section 1: We Can Have Only One Master
We can choose to go through life drifting along, letting the currents of thought take us where they will, and conceding to servitude by default, or we can take an active role by making decisive choices.  Theologian Albert Barnes points out that in citation B1 the psalmist isn’t making a casual request.  He is rousing himself as one making strenuous efforts to obtain an object.  His efforts aren’t weak or fitful, but his whole powers are geared to the end of finding unity with God. The apostle John cautions us to be careful about what we follow too. We shouldn’t believe everything that comes along just because it claims to be inspired (B2). We should put our options to the test and see whether they measure up to what we know is genuinely spiritual.  Matthew Henry suggests a good measuring stick for determining which option leads us to God; then, in his customary fashion, he editorializes on those who fail to choose rightly.  He writes, “The more pure and holy a doctrine is, the more likely to be of God… what wonder is it that people of a worldly spirit should cleave to those who are like themselves, and suit their schemes and discourses to their corrupt taste?”  Henry was clearly a hardliner when it came to making spiritual choices. The Old Testament writers also cautioned to beware pursuing things leading away from God (B3). They urge us to love God with all our heart and soul, and not only serve God, but cleave unto Him.

Mrs. Eddy was right in line with this admonition.  She bluntly states, “We cannot ‘serve two masters’” (S1). She doesn’t hesitate to point out that nothing is real but God (S2).  We should be clear that it’s a mistake to believe in any power apart from God.  Such a belief simply isn’t real.  If we fall for such a suggestion, we’re liable to believe that error is more powerful than God.  The textbook explains that error is only a supposition (S4), only a false belief, bereft of any validity.  We need to remember that even though error talks a big game, it isn’t real.

What happens to a falsehood when you realize it’s false?  It instantly begins to disappear.  When faced with a choice between truth and error, we should remember that error is never more than a false suggestion.  As error is exposed, it disappears, and the truth becomes evident (S5).

Section 2: No Matter How Huge It Seems, Error Is Unreal
The story of David and Goliath (B4) is so familiar to us.  Over the years, we’ve discussed various historical aspects of the story, but this time, let’s think about it more thematically.  What does Goliath represent?  Well, he is a seemingly formidable and unbeatable opponent.  He boasts a huge game and taunts us showing utter contempt and disrespect for our God.  His aim is to defeat our best efforts to oppose him, and compel us into servitude.  Why do the armies of Saul fear him?  Because they simply don’t trust and understand God as well as they should.  If they hadn’t already forsaken God they wouldn’t be afraid.  Why does David succeed?  Because he serves God, represents God, and trusts God completely.  Based on his experience, David could write Psalm 62 (B5).  Barnes paraphrases it this way, “…all other sources fail, and confidence is to be placed in nothing else for that which man so much needs; neither in people, whether of low degree or high; not in oppressive acts—acts of mere power; not in plunder; not in wealth, however acquired.”

Our Leader tells us that everyone has to learn that there is “neither power nor reality in evil” (S6).  Like Goliath, evil is self-assertive.  Are you facing a Goliath?  No matter what your “Goliath” seems to be, our textbook reminds us that evil is “neither person, place, nor thing” (S7).  The meaning of David’s story was not lost on Mrs. Eddy.  She saw herself as taking on the largest opposition to God of our time (S9).  It isn’t uncommon for people to become very intimidated, like the armies of Saul, by what seems to be the sheer magnitude of their foe.  And, the reason for trepidation, like Saul’s army, is a lack of understanding God (S10).  The beauty of Mrs. Eddy’s discovery is its consistency.  In Science, there is no power opposed to God (S11).  It’s really very simple.  Have we allowed ourselves to serve that which claims to oppose God?  Have we yielded our freedom to fear, sin, sickness, medical beliefs, advertising?  Are we like the armies of Saul?  Or do we want to follow our Leader, [and run to meet any Goliath,] like fearless David?  The choice is yours.

Section 3: Choose to Vanquish Temptation
At one time or another, everyone is faced with doubt.  Sometimes, we just can’t seem to understand how we got into our situation and what we need to do to get out of it.  Job could be the poster child for one questioning his condition.  He asked, “What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?” (B6).  The way we respond to such challenges proves our metal.

Jesus met challenges too.  During his temptations in the wilderness (B7) he had the opportunity to prove himself.  It shouldn’t be surprising that the temptations came right after his baptism, and the declaration from heaven that God was pleased with him.  Whenever we take an advancing step spiritually, we have an opportunity to prove our position.  Throughout his ordeal, Jesus was tempted to serve and obey a power other than God.  He was tempted to distrust God’s plan and try to win the people over by material methods—supplying food as the Romans did; He was tempted to prove his divine Sonship through spectacular demonstrations rather than through healing; He was tempted to by-pass all the work of his mission, being promised everything he could want, if he would only serve evil.  Of course Jesus knew that there were no shortcuts.  He saw through every challenge by responding with what he knew he could trust—the word of God—just as David responded to Goliath with the proven tools of his trade.  We learn from this story that temptations often come when we are vulnerable, and that no matter how attractive the offer, we can see through the schemes of evil, and maintain our allegiance to God.

Mrs. Eddy acknowledges that Jesus was tempted “in all points” (S12 & Hebrews 4:15) and that he successfully met every challenge.  Jesus had no time for error.  Science and Health tells us to denounce evil in every way, but always to remember that there is no reality in any of evil’s claims (S14).  In order to do this, we need to detect evil and expose it.  Sometimes people make too much of evil, and sometimes not enough.  But whatever we do, we can’t ignore it.  In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus included a petition to be delivered from evil (S15, p. 16). Note that Mrs. Eddy doesn’t imply that evil is intelligent or powerful, or that there are many evils. There’s just one evil, and it’s impersonal and powerless.  But we vanquish evil by denying its reality and realizing the allness of God.

Section 4: Refuse to be Governed by Remote Control
As Christian Scientists, we are quick to see Ezekiel’s statement about “sour grapes” (B9) as meaning we don’t have to accept the belief of heredity.  There’s a bit more to the context of this citation than that.  Ezekiel was telling the Israelites to quit blaming their forefathers for their current situation and take responsibility for their own sins. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible notes, “It is a universal mark of a corrupt nature to lay the blame, which belongs to ourselves, on others and to arraign the justice of God.”  So Ezekiel’s statement was more of a warning, than a promise.  Be that as it may, we still have to address the belief of heredity.  It is said, that the Jew’s belief in pre-existent or pre-natal sin prompted the disciples’ question about why a man was born blind (B10).  Jesus didn’t accept any justification for evil.  He saw everything as an opportunity to prove God’s allness.  Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament observes that part of Jesus’ response should actually read, “We must work the works of him that sent me.”  That means that Jesus expected all of us to follow his healing example.

Do you ever feel that you are being punished for something you did in an earlier existence?  Or do you blame your condition on heredity?  While it is true, that we are sometimes faced with challenges that seem to be beyond our control, we have to realize that we aren’t bound by these claims.  We can choose to be free from them right now.  “Heredity is not a law” (S18).  We aren’t helpless in the face of heredity.  This belief is eliminated when we realize that inharmony cannot pollute God’s creation (S19).  Neither heredity nor the body governs us, and we don’t have to live in slavery to either one (S20).  Human belief conveniently claims either “nature” or “nurture” holds the power over us, but all the ills we face are no more than a dream.  Heredity, or whatever other theory comes along, is only an attempt to give legitimacy to a false claim, and make us feel we cannot win against it.

Mrs. Eddy uses an interesting phrase that exposes another false law that would attempt to bind us to forces beyond our control.  She speaks of “the remote cause.”  A while back, I was watching an episode of Nova on PBS.  In it they talked about something Einstein called, “spooky action at a distance.”  The idea here is that two particles can be separated from each other by great distances, but whatever happens to one affects the other.  This adds another layer of meaning to things happening to us beyond our control.  When I heard of Einstein’s phrase, I immediately thought of Mrs. Eddy’s repudiation of a “remote cause” for disease.  There’s no way of knowing if she had “spooky action” in mind, but she was definitely a thinker ahead of her time, and predicted several seemingly impossible things such as astronomers looking out from the stars, and botanists finding the flower before its seed.  In any case, whatever law mortal mind conjures, we don’t have to serve any of them.

Section 5: Choose Freedom from Sin
One of the most deceptive schemes in the tempter’s arsenal is enslavement to sin.  It operates almost undetected, because in its early stages sin seems like a pleasant thing and it appears to be a viable choice.  We think at first, that sin serves us; but, before long it’s the other way around.  When speaking to some recent converts, Jesus told them that in order to really be free, they would need to continue to live what he taught (B11).  People are often very willing to hear about God and truth until they realize that it requires something more than mere acceptance.  They responded to Jesus’ call to freedom by trying to use the belief of heredity to their advantage.  They claimed that they were free because they were children of Abraham.  An odd claim, since the children of Israel had a long history of bondage to foreign powers and were at the time, living under Roman occupation.  But as Barnes points out, ““People will say anything, however false or ridiculous, to avoid and oppose truth… People groaning under the most oppressive bondage are often unwilling to acknowledge it in any manner, and are indignant at being charged with it…”  The bottom line is, if you practice sin, you’re in bondage to it, and Christ is the only way out.

Just as there is a general theological misconception that being reborn in Christ is a one-time event, there is also a misconception that punishment for sin ultimates in some hellish afterlife.  But once we accept Christ, we need to prove it every day—even every hour.  Likewise, the “wages of sin is death” (B12).  The term “wages” comes from the Greek opsonia which means a soldier’s daily provisional wage.  This indicates that the wages for sin also occur on an ongoing basis.  Every time we sin, we “die”  a little more.  Once again, the solution is to choose the freedom of Christ, and therefore gain more of eternal life each day.

If Jesus came to destroy sin, sickness and death, how could God have anything to do with them? (S22).  Everything sensual is unreal, and Christian Science is opposed to it in every way.  In Science, good is the only reality (S23).  But that DOES NOT give us license to sin.  Mrs. Eddy writes that making a reality of sin in any way works against us.  In order to understand the unreality of evil, we must repent and forsake it (S24).

Mrs. Eddy acknowledges that people sometimes have a hard time accepting the fact that goodness is more natural than evil (S25).  In Les Miserables, Javert cannot comprehend how it could be that Valjean allows him to live when he has the chance to kill him.  It’s as if his inability to process that level of goodness and repentance initiated a cascade failure, and caused him to self-destruct.  It’s true that evil is incapable of understanding reality, and disappears in its presence.  But nevertheless, choosing Truth is natural, and will bring us liberty, abolishing all that tries to oppose it (S26).

Section 6: Choose Liberty—Your Divine Right!
Whether threatening or cunning, appealing or revolting, the senses are liars and you just can’t trust anything they tell you.  As the Proverbs say, a false witness speaks only lies (B13).  The Scriptures urge us to stop putting our trust in anything that comes to us through mortal man (B14).  What help can a frail, weak mortal provide?  None.  If we want the truth or anything substantial, we need to turn only to God.  Indulging in carnal propensities leads to death (B15).  Make no mistake.  Sin aims to kill you.  We need to cease not only from the activity of sin, but also from the desires, and suggestions that come to us.  Jesus met the temptations head on and won, and so must we.  Destruction of fleshly desires leads to life and salvation, drawing us away from servitude to an unreal master to the freedom of Truth.  Slaves were considered their master’s property, and when a person was adopted, he immediately had the full rights of sonship, and his new family took total responsibility for him (B16).  In like manner, we are sons of God, and our Father-Mother takes full responsibility for us.

Why do we find this so hard to believe?  Mrs. Eddy asks when will we realize that we don’t have to live under the oppression of the material belief of life and intelligence in matter. (S27).  She says that once the dream of error yields “to reason and revelation” we’ll see evil’s unreality and it will disappear (S28).  The author of Science and Health did everything she could to help us understand and demonstrate our right to oppose the slavery of material sense.  She yearned for us to see that we always can choose the reality and overcome all the ills of the flesh (S29).  She wanted to rally us to action.  Do we take her call seriously?  Considering her call to action, to stand by the banner of liberty, escape from bondage, and be free (S30), I again am reminded of Les Miserables.  The rebels rallied around their banner and put their lives on the line for their freedom.  Do we think the battle for spiritual freedom is any less urgent?  Let’s rally round that banner of liberty and claim our divine rights.  Let’s choose to rise up, serve God alone, and be free!


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 of horses still needs your "adoptive" support to be fully fed, trained and ready for camp, our focus now goes to filling camp with worthy campers!  Our main funding goals for early 2013 are raising funds for campership applicants and for operations support.  If you'd rather not give online or over the phone,

[Thank you for mailing your checks to:
CedarS Camps Office,
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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, 13-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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