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Lose a fear of death by dwelling in the house of the Lord — the consciousness of Life!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

"Probation After Death”
October 22-28, 2018

Prepared by Kathy Fitzer, kathyfitzer@gmail.com

As I studied this week’s Lesson I was struck by why we do not need to — and must not — fear death. References to sheep and Shepherd, including the 23rd Psalm, run throughout. God is Life and the light of Life is ever-present. Thus, the darkness of death (which can come in a variety of forms) is as powerless as a shadow to stop our progress. Rather, we can and must face the shadow and walk through it with confidence.

Golden Text: [See W's PS#1 & #2 Ken Cooper poem Ruth & Warren Huff’s “23 and Me”]
The translation used in this week’s Golden Text, to me, beautifully expands on how we think about death. “Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me.” Not only is death simply darkness (or a shadow), which disappears with the light, but any kind of darkness we seem to be experiencing can be handled as a belief in death. Understanding God — Life and Truth — to be ever with us, we can see through any and all suggestions of death as simply the suppositional opposite of Life and Truth, and so incapable of existing where God fills all space and is all power. Fear of death dissipates as we see the suggestion of darkness as powerless to stop or overthrow light. A flashlight illumines a dark cave. There is no flashdark that can put out the sun shining through the cave’s entrance. The light of Life and Truth — ever with us — can never be extinguished, regardless of appearances.

Responsive Reading: [See W's PS#3—Cobbey’s insights on Isaiah 25:8.]
We can take a lesson from the experiences of the early Jews as we ask ourselves who or what we are leaning on for our safety and where we are looking for answers. The final two verses of the Responsive Reading promise that God will always save and protect His people … “swallow up death in victory and wipe away tears.” When these verses were written, Isaiah was not only emphasizing the ability of God to save His people, but also cautioning them to completely rely on God and not to reach out to other nations or other gods for help. However, Israel often disregarded this instruction, turning to Assyria for protection or looking to pagan gods when they felt vulnerable. The reliance on such powers never offered lasting security. The first 4 verses come from a section of Isaiah that addresses the questions that would have come up during Judah’s later exile to Babylon (from 587/6-538 BC) — and which we may be tempted to ask during times of trouble —including whether God had been defeated and thus is helpless to save. These questions were answered with the assurance that God is infinitely superior to all other powers, and will always rescue His children. Isaiah comforts the people by reminding them of how their ancestors had been saved (ransomed) from Egypt … “Thus saith the Lord, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters.” They could trust that God would also deliver them!

Again … Israel was (and we are) reminded that there is no need to ever yield to fear — of anything — including death! Human circumstances may get really, really bad at times. But God — infinite, perfect Love — is always there to comfort and care for His children. We can take great comfort in knowing that no matter how dark things seem — how exiled in a foreign land we feel — these words are as true today as they were when spoken by Isaiah to those being held captive in Babylon …. “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you [obtained your release]. I have called you by name; you are mine.” (v. 1 – NLT) No matter what mistakes have been made, God never stops knowing and loving His children and He will care for them (for us) and deliver all from the captivity of mortal sense.

Section 1: We don’t need to fear because God is with us [See PS#4 & PS#5 on B1 & B3.]
In this section, the 23rd Psalm assures us that we have everything we need, that God is with us, comforting and supporting us, and there is no reason to give in to fear. (B2) We have the familiar rhetorical questions asking where we could possibly go outside of God’s presence? These questions are written as statements of fact in the New Living Translation …. “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from you presence! (B3) As we praise God for His goodness, we can expect to see evidence of God’s care. (B1) The more we accept that Life is God, the more clearly we will see Life as eternal and infinite — incapable of interruption. (S1, 2 & 5)

When we’re going through tough times (having a wilderness experience filled with such things as loneliness, doubt and darkness) it can be hard to see the presence of God, good. But, the definition of wilderness in the glossary of our textbook also includes this … “the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence.” (S4) A vestibule is a room between the outer door and the interior of a building. I remember years ago someone describing it as a place where muddy shoes and clothing can be exchanged for clean ones. In the vestibule of thought we have the opportunity to take off the fear, doubt, and false beliefs that would try to bring us down with dark thoughts, and clothe ourselves in the illumined understanding of ever-present Life, Truth, and Love fully reflected here and now. (S3) Often challenges give way to grand opportunities to see God with us!

Section 2: We need not fear as we trust that all is well — despite appearances. [PS#6, #7]
The Shunammite woman thought it impossible to have a child. Yet Elisha showed her that because God is the source of life, nothing is impossible. This woman demonstrated her devotion to Elisha by having a room built for him on the roof of her home. And when her son became sick and died, she placed him on the prophet’s bed, shut the door, and left to seek the help of God’s spokesman. What a wonderful example of trust, and turning things over to God — regardless of appearances. But even though she was able to leave her son, and even though she was able to tell Gehazi that all was well, when she finally got to Elisha her doubts and fears surfaced with the question … why did you give me this son that I didn’t ask for; why tease me? Yet she faithfully refused to leave Elisha as they traveled back to her home together. Shutting out all distractions, Elisha went into the room, closed the door, prayed, and the son was revived. (B4) What most struck me as I considered this story was the lack of panic on anyone’s part. Rather, quiet confidence reigned — whether the mother totally felt it or not.

It is a beautiful example of practicing what our textbook instructs us to do when tempted by “the illusion of sickness or sin.” (S12) We are to cling to God and His idea; allow nothing but God’s likeness to abide in thought; let neither fear nor doubt overshadow our clear sense and calm trust that recognizing life to be harmonious, as Life eternally is, can destroy all that Life is not; let Christian Science (Truth) rather than corporeal sense (false suggestion) support our understanding of being, and know that this understanding of reality will displace error with Truth, mortality with immortality, and silence discord with harmony. (S12) In order to cling to something, we need to stay very close — letting nothing come between us and what we are clinging to. The words allow and let —used several times in this passage —indicate the need to give our permission to (or admit) the thoughts that we know are legitimate. We’re not having to make anything be true. We just need to give our permission forGod’s likeness to abide in thought and withhold permission for anything else to enter. Just as the Shunammite woman may not have totally felt the confidence she expressed as she left her child and told Elisha’s servant that all was well, we can go forward seeking Christ and trusting all to God, mentally holding to what is true (even if not totally feeling it) until the doubts and fears yield to the light of Christ (Truth) and God’s likeness is revealed. We must never place our trust on material evidence — good or bad. All that counts is what God knows! That’s what we trust!

Section 3: We don’t need to fear when we release all ties to the flesh (mortal heritage) and recognize our eternal life — at one with Christ, Truth — to be here and now. [PS#8 & #9]

Jesus completely understanding that God was his only Father. (S14) Although he honored his human mother, he didn’t see himself connected to a fleshly heritage. Rather, he saw his family to be those who “do the will of [his] Father which is in heaven.” (B8) Jesus said he was come to give life. This sense of life comes from the Greek word, zoe and can be thought of this way, “life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last for ever.” So, we expect a vigorous life here and now and as we rise above the limits of matter entirely, we will recognize the spiritual sense of uninterruptible harmony. This is an abundant life — beyond measure — as the Greek, perissos, can be translated.

As long as we look at life based on mortal measurements and mortal relationships, we’ll always be haunted by limitation. But Jesus taught and demonstrated a life not bound by mortal ties. Jesus taught that those who hear, listen to, and follow the voice of Christ, Truth, will witness “eternal life,” from which they “will never, ever [by any means] perish; and no one will ever snatch them out of [Christ’s] hand.” (B7 — Amplified Bible) The original Greek translated as pluck in the KJV or snatch in other translations, indicates a sense of being taken or carried off by force — indicating a sense of violence. Jesus’ promise that we cannot be snatched away from God’s embrace of humanity — or Christ — takes away the fear of falling prey to error violently expressed as “natural” disaster, accident, disease, or any kind of attack. We are always safe because we are always at one with our Father — as Jesus was.

Death doesn’t save us from sin or sickness. (S10) We are saved by Life! As we “avail ourselves in every direction of the supremacy of Truth over error, Life over death, and good over evil”, we experience spiritual growth and realize more and more of this full sense of Life. Then we naturally lose our fear that we can die from any cause. (S11) To avail oneself of something is to “use to one’s advantage.” (dictionary.com) We don’t make Truth supreme. We use the fact that Truth — Good — is supreme to destroy the fear that comes from believing that man is of mortal origin and so subject to mortal limitations and dangers. What is required is alertness and watching of thought. God enables us to hold this standard. Remember … His presence is ever with us. Our only tie is to God, our Father. Mortal limitations coming from a supposed mortal heritage have no bearing on us. We can see “the true sense of being and its eternal perfection” now. (S13) We are always one with Life. Nothing to fear!

Section 4: We don’t need to fear that life can be torn apart as we recognize that we are clothed in the seamless garment of Truth.

As the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection unfolded, prophecies about the coming Messiah were repeatedly fulfilled. This included the Roman soldiers dividing up his clothes after he was crucified. When they came to his coat, they found that it was woven from one piece of fabric. Rather than tear it apart, they rolled dice to see who should take the whole thing. This was prophesied in Ps. 22: 18. (B11) This Christly garment, to me, symbolizes what clothes (constitutes) our being. It remains whole. Mrs. Eddy specifies that “the vesture of Life is Truth.” (S19) We can’t be separated or torn away from Life and Truth. And Life isn’t divided up — with some getting a bigger or better part than others. Love can’t be divided or ripped away. Jesus made sure his mother would be taken care of, asking “the beloved disciple” (John) to take her in and treat her as his own. (B11)

Jesus never lost sight of the fact that his life was divine, not mortal. Step by step we can follow his example — not yielding to the testimony of material sense but holding steadfastly to the spiritual sense of being. (S22) Facing death — as Jesus and his dear disciples and followers did — isn’t easy. But, Jesus showed us that we never need to be afraid of it — or accept it as real. As Mrs. Eddy assures us, “the evidence of man’s immortality will become more apparent as material beliefs are given up and the immortal facts of being are admitted.” (S23) Similar to the words allow and let, admitmeans to “give right or means of entrance to: allow to enter; permit.” We may find it very difficult to see through the material evidence — to see past the testimony of what appears to be death (or the stoppage of any harmonious action.) But we can admit, or allow the immortal facts of being to enter into thought. We can hold to the fact that “the divine Science (the truth) of man is woven into one web of consistency without seam or rent.” (S19) It’s impossible for Life to be interrupted or severed! Our lives cannnot be torn apart!

Section 5: We need not fear as we bury thought in Spirit & demonstrate Life [PS#10, #11]

After Jesus was crucified, Joseph of Arimathea — a member of the Sanhedrin but referred to as a “secret disciple” — and Nicodemus, who had come to Jesus at night, lovingly took Jesus’ body and placed it in a tomb before the beginning of the Sabbath. Although to all outward appearances a dead body was being placed in a stone tomb, Jesus’ life remained buried in Spirit. He was left alone to demonstrate “Life to be deathless and Love to be the master of hate.” (S24) Mary Magdalene, a devoted disciple who had been at the cross the day before , came to the tomb as soon as the Sabbath was over to finish preparing the body for burial. But she found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty! It’s interesting to read the intervening verses to see Peter and John’s involvement with the empty tomb, as well. Mary (and the others) immediately thought that someone had taken Jesus’ dead body away, But, instead, Jesus had walked away and left behind the belief of death . Mary didn’t recognize Jesus at first — not looking for the risen Christ. No matter how many times Jesus had told his disciples that he would rise again on the third day, they didn’t get it! But, when her Master spoke to her, Mary perceived the presence of Christ and responded. Her fear faded and her joy returned. (B13) Jesus demonstrated what Paul later articulated … death and the grave have no sting or victory. (B14) Although it looked as if Jesus’ body was lifeless, his status as the eternally living Son of God never changed … and he never lost sight of that status! As we acknowledge the ever-living Christ, we will always be able to hear the call of Truth and respond.

Are there things we can learn from Jesus’ demonstration that can help us lose our fear of death and demonstrate more of the reality of eternal life? It takes constant alertness not to fall for the lie of mortal sense. Life is never in a mortal body … so it can’t die out of a mortal body. As our textbook says, “we must reverse our feeble flutterings — our efforts to find life and truth in matter — and rise above the testimony of the material senses …” (S28) I enjoyed giving fresh thought to the definition of burial from the Glossary. We can only rise above the false testimony as we refuse to believe the reports of corporeality and physical sense. As we keep thought buried in Spirit, we are conscious only of the reports of Spirit. Immortality is “brought to light.” We’re not making immortality true and mortality false. It already is! We are accepting it as the only reality and refusing to fear (be afraid of, or respect) any other report. I love remembering how, as kids, we escaped the sting of horseflies when we were swimming. Submerging ourselves in the water, we were out of reach. Submerging ourselves (burying ourselves) in Spirit (the knowledge that only good — only what is from God — is real), we are safe from the sting of death.

Section 6: We need not fear as we walk in the pathway of Truth and choose Life. [PS#1,#2]

How important to continually declare (enter our protest) with the Psalmist … “I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the Lord has done.” (B15 NLT) From time to time the suggestion may come to all of us that something might happen to us or to a loved one that will prove to be fatal. It is so important to not let thought stay in that place. God is Life and so cannot know death. We “dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (B17) One translation of the Hebrew word for house is “place” or “within.” We are never outside of the place God occupies, so never outside of Life. Mary Baker Eddy perceived this “house of the Lord” to be the “consciousness of Love.” (S32) It helps me to also think of it as the consciousness of Life. Being fully conscious of Life, we lose all consciousness (and fear) of death. Even if it appears that someone has died, we need to be firm in our understanding that man forever reflects Life. And, so just as Jesus remained ever conscious of his identity and demonstrated that his life couldn’t be destroyed, our demonstration of life is “gained by walking in the pathway of Truth both before and after that which is called death.” (S29) We don’t achieve deathless Life (the origin and ultimate — the all — of man) through death — but by refusing to believe that the appearance of death can ever stop Life.

Choosing to live includes living for the purpose of glorifying God. It’s been helpful to me to realize that I’m not working to prolong a mortal existence or to avoid separation from loved ones. I’m working to express my true nature as the child of God in response to God’s love for me and as an expression of my love for God (my Father-Mother, divine Principle … Love itself.) I do that by striving to “walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (B16) The New Living Translation puts that verse this way, “I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” And the Amplified Bible has, “I will walk [in submissive wonder] before the Lord In the land of the living.” There is no other land — no other place — outside of omnipresent God, Good. The more we realize that, we won’t be deceived by the possibility of “passing on” to some other place. Yes, at this point we may momentarily lose sight of those around us, but we never lose sight of Life or of Love. Choosing to live with the goal of having a clear view of the Life that can never be interrupted, we can lose all fear of death and just focus on living each moment to the fullest, “hidden from the world, but known to God” — fully known by Life and fully conscious of Life (and the joy and peace inherent in that Life.) (S31) Fear just isn’t present on the pathway of Life!


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