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[PSST: Eliminate “substance abuse”! Be a cheerful giver! (2) Take root in Love! (6)]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson

for Sunday, September 10, 2017 on

“Substance”

by Aubrey McMullin, C.S., Godfrey, Illinois
(618) 578-9407 aubrey.mcmullin3@gmail.com

PSST Subject – I always like to begin the lesson on Substance by re-visiting what substance really is, and what Substance really is. What is the difference between the two … Is there a difference? Have a discussion with your students about what they think substance and Substance are and where true substance comes from. What are some challenges today with substance? Examples could perhaps be displayed in the form of “substance abuse” with drugs or alcohol or in the form of one turning to a substance aside from God for comfort or companionship, but also what does it mean when someone is referred to as a “person of substance,” Substance is entirely spiritual! How can this spiritual substance assist us today in understanding what true substance is and realizing the effective way that this understanding brings about healing?

PSST Golden Text & Responsive Reading – The good that we all have is God-created, God-ordered, and God-protected. Can Substance ever dry up or slow down or become empty? This cannot happen, because Substance is immeasurable and limitless! Substance is all there is, because God is infinite. In Psalms (68:19) we read, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” How wonderful it is to know that every single day God loads us with benefits: protection, health, guidance, wisdom, joy, harmony, safety, and love! What other divine substance does He load us with daily? Isn’t it gratifying to know that God does recognize our thirst after righteousness and that this statement by Mary Baker Eddy in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is entirely true (p. 494): “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.” How wonderful it is that we can truly “trust in the Lord with all (our) heart;” that we will be loaded daily with divine substance “and lean not unto (our) own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5)!

PSST Section 1 – How do we address the mistaken trust in material riches? Are these mistaken trusts confined to so-called wealthy people or do they bind also many whom the world calls poor? Heaven has been misunderstood as a future state where the poor man’s present lack would be amended by a satisfying material fulfillment; while the picture of a heaven without one’s “great possessions” has made many turn sadly away. Why do we find ourselves sometimes putting greater trust in materiality, and deem it sacrifice to abandon the shadow for our enduring substance of Spirit? Is the human quest for satisfaction in a personal sense of good, be it in happiness, ethics, wealth, or health, always going to fail? Since God is infinite, can man truly possess anything of his own, that is, outside infinity? The complete and adequate answer to this question is given in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. In "Retrospection and Introspection" (p. 57) she says: "Man shines by borrowed light. He reflects God as his Mind, and this reflection is substance, —the substance of good. Matter is substance in error, Spirit is substance in Truth." And farther on she writes, "All must be of God, and not our own, separated from Him." She also says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (citation S3 in this week’s lesson), “As God is substance and man is the divine image and likeness, man should wish for and in reality has, only the substance of good, the substance of Spirit, not matter. The belief that man has any other substance, or mind, is not spiritual and breaks the First Commandment, Thou shalt have one God, one Mind.” How are we upholding the First Commandment when understanding Substance and substance?

PSST Section 2 – What can we learn from the story of Joash in this section? Where is true substance found? Is it found in matter, or in Spirit? How can we be cheerful givers? Cheerful giving means loving, gracious, and generous giving; it is to give freely, eagerly, and joyously from a grateful heart. We can see that these qualities of thought are derived from Spirit. They express God, who is Life, Soul, and Love. The results of expressing Godlike qualities are shown in the Bible! Joash, the king, had seen the need to repair the temple in Jerusalem (B6). At his command, a chest was prepared to receive contributions for this purpose and was set just outside the gate of the temple. A declaration was sent throughout Jerusalem and Judah to bring in the collections. "And all the princes and all the people rejoiced, and brought in, and cast into the chest." The chest would be filled with the gifts, emptied in the king's office, taken back to the gate and refilled. "Thus they did day by day, and gathered money in abundance." Funds were raised for the complete renovation of the house of the Lord, and there was ample left over for furnishings and accessories. In considering this event we can see that the key words are "the people rejoiced." They came bearing their offerings with gladness and gratitude. They were cheerful givers! Their giving proved God's law of abundance ever operative. How do we demonstrate God’s law of abundance?

Who else do we know that proved this law consistently? In later times we know that Christ Jesus, the Way-shower, was constantly giving his time, energy, love, and spiritual understanding in healing work. Multitudes—the sick, the lame, the blind, and the sinning—were healed. His heart went out to those in need and overflowed in joyous bestowals of blessings. He stated to his followers a law: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom." (Luke 6:38) He also said, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32) Then it should be our good pleasure to give, for we are the children of God. Man, in his true, spiritual nature, is the image and likeness of God, who is the infinite source and substance of all good. Realizing this fact, one need never fear that by giving to a righteous cause he will be unable to meet other necessary commitments or that there won't be enough good to go around. Instead, he will trust divine Mind to guide him in the ways and means of all giving. Mrs. Eddy tirelessly gave unstintingly to the world her prayers and spiritual labors. She knew, for she had proved, the truth of her words, "Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us" (SH 9, p. 79:31-32).

Innumerable times Christian Scientists have proved the practicality of this statement.

PSST Section 3 – If a healing seems delayed or a problem remains unsolved, it may be wise to look to our mental possessions. The "poor in spirit," (B11) who are designated in the first beatitude as "blessed," and to whom is given the kingdom of heaven, include those who realize that attachment to materiality has impoverished them spiritually, and so prepare themselves to receive healing. They know precisely what it is that they need in order to survive or be better. How are you poor in spirit? What do you know you need in order to understand you unity with God better? Christian Science healing is purely spiritual, and demands consecration, obedience, and love. Simple human efforts to reject errors are not substantial, but honest self-examination will uncover "possessions" not derived from God and show us how to put the weight into the right scale. Human will is deceitful, and self-love and its companions—selfishness, self-justification, self-righteousness, and self-pity—dim the healing light. Outside of this personal sense, there is nothing to heal, for God's perfect man is present now, and never was eclipsed, lost, or absent.

Materiality comprises all "the multitude of dreams," all the material beliefs that seem to possess mankind. These beliefs claim to be masters of mankind. Material beliefs may be symbolized by the rod which Moses, at God's command, cast on the ground, thereby uncovering the serpent, evil, or animal magnetism. Moses' experience may be interpreted as showing the alarmed human sense fleeing before its own illusions, not trusting the power of God. When an individual at Truth's bidding handles the serpent, evil is destroyed through spiritual understanding, affording him unfailing support by the demonstration of divine Science. How do we give to the poor as Jesus gave, and so follow Christ, in giving of "substance in Truth," the "treasure in heaven," and thereby to multiply such divine substance? This is the true wealth, for the giving of it rends the veil of finity, and Love's limitless generosity is born to earth. Our Leader, Mrs. Eddy, thus gave to the spiritually poor, and so followed Christ. Like the master Christian, she gave freely of the bread of heaven, releasing afflicted and suffering humanity from the cruel bonds of material sense.

After discovering Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy devoted her life to lovingly sharing her dear-bought "treasure in heaven" with all who were ready to receive it. Are not Christian Scientists the heirs to this Christ-treasure, heirs to the duty and privilege of scientifically demonstrating its infinite affluence? Mrs. Eddy's own works exemplified these words in her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 369, SH12): “In proportion as matter loses to human sense all entity as man, in that proportion does man become its master. He enters into a diviner sense of the facts, and comprehends the theology of Jesus as demonstrated in healing the sick, raising the dead, and walking over the wave. All these deeds manifested Jesus’ control over the belief that matter is substance, that it can be the arbiter of life or the constructor of any form of existence.”

PSST Section 4 – How are we to find the kingdom of heaven through understanding substance? Jesus helped his followers understand truth better by using parables; they were a kind of code that could be cracked only with a degree of spiritual discernment. The more people understood his parables, the more they were able to understand everything else Jesus said. So what is this parable about a hidden treasure telling us? Have you ever felt like the man in the parable who finds a treasure hidden in a field and joyfully sells all that he has to buy that field? Perhaps to some, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is that treasure. What else might be that treasure? Could healing be that treasure? What are we giving up in order to obtain the hidden treasure in the field? The wise man sets forth with many strong reasons the necessity for spiritual understanding, and tells of the rewards to be gained by its possession, among which are named health, long life, peace, prosperity, safety. The wise man indeed tells us that this “hid treasure” is more to be desired than silver and gold; more precious than the rarest ruby. All through Jesus’ teachings we find him directing thought to the spiritual treasures which were so clearly perceived by him, but which were hidden from those who believed that the material senses were the avenue through which they could be cognized. How can we direct thought away from the belief in material substance and toward better understanding spiritual substance? These treasures should never be hidden from our eyes, for they are the only treasures, and they are to be found only in the kingdom of God which Christian Science tells us is here and now. It matters not whether the need be health and happiness, peace and plenty, or whether it be to have the deep heart hunger for God satisfied; the supply, the treasure, waits to reward our diligent search. What if it be hid to mortal sense? This only demands more diligent seeking! “Things spiritual and eternal are substantial. Things material and temporal are insubstantial” (SH21, p. 335:13).

PSST Section 5 – What are we finding to be truly valuable and substantial in life as Christian Science elevates our sense of substance? How are we growing closer to a more complete understanding of spiritual substance and how it satisfies? How does our greater understanding of substance bring healing to our lives? Love, spiritual substance, is a healing power. When Paul preached in Lystra, a man was healed who had been crippled in his feet since birth. It was a spectacular cure. The Bible says that despite the fact that the man had never walked, when Paul commanded him, "Stand upright on thy feet," he immediately "leaped and walked." But the people misunderstood. They thought it was Paul and Barnabas who had performed the miracle by their own power. They were about to worship them when the two disciples hastened to explain that it is God alone that made the universe and all things in it, and that it is through the understanding of His love, spiritual substance, that mankind's needs are met and healing takes place. Paul was "preaching the gospel"—declaring, according to Jesus' teaching, that man is the son of God, the object of God's care—and the healing illustrated the effect in human experience of such an understanding of divine Love's law. The love that Paul's preaching illustrated bears witness to Truth that can heal the unrest of human conditions. Mrs. Eddy writes as her first sentence in our textbook: “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love. Regardless of what another may say or think on this subject, I speak from experience.” Why was this sentence so important to Mrs. Eddy that it be the very first sentence of her textbook? What does it teach us about spiritual substance and its demonstration?

PSST Section 6 – What are Spirit’s boundless gifts? How do we find nourishment and sufficiency in spiritual substance? Our God is infinite. The recognition of this fact is the growing point for us. There can be no limit to our development and unfoldment as God's infinite ideas, no limit to our receiving His boundless gifts of substance. Through our roots, or spiritual desires, we absorb God's love, lay hold of the great substance of divine Mind, in order that we may grow in grace and thus bring forth our blossoms. We are "rooted and grounded in love" (B23)! What an abiding sense of establishment and nourishment in divine Principle these words of Paul bring to us! And what do they mean? A plant through its roots takes hold of the ground so firmly that it cannot be upset or displaced; and it is fed and nourished through its roots. What is the definition of “root?” What is a “root cap” and how does it enables the plant to penetrate the soil without injury to the growing point? We should pray to be "rooted and grounded in love" that we may "be filled with all the fulness of God." Is not our hungering and thirsting for righteousness—our strong desires for a knowledge of God—our roots, that which enables us to take hold of the eternal facts of being and find our establishment in the kingdom of heaven? When we take hold of God as divine Principle, and partake of the unchanging, eternal, inexhaustible, harmonious qualities of divine Mind, we are being rooted in Love; for divine Principle is Love. Love is the beatific presence whose nature is ever to bless. The blessing Love imparts is nothing less than perfection,—"all the fulness of God."

The glory of the flower is its blossoming. Man finds his relation to God as Mind's idea, and through his roots he is established and fed with spiritual substance—but only in order that he may through his blossoming glorify his Maker share the blessing with others. Through this intake, man perceives his true relation to fellow-men. And how spontaneously and joyously we can unfold in God's likeness when rooted and grounded in His love! We are shown how to move in the way of this spiritual and substantial growth in citation S30, “If our hopes and affections are spiritual, they come from above, not from beneath, and they bear as of old the fruits of the Spirit.” (451:14)

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