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[PSST: Understand Spirit–apply it and so demonstrate it—like in a camp-lab(oratory)!]

Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson

for Sunday, February 11, 2018 on

by Aubrey McMullin, C.S., Godfrey, Illinois
(618) 578-9407

The difference between knowing and understanding has been a recurring theme in conversations that have unfolded for me in the last few weeks. As I read this week’s lesson with this theme fresh in thought, I realized that this week’s lesson is another conversation about the power of understanding! What is the difference between knowing and understanding?

In these conversations I have heard the difference between knowing and understanding described in several ways but the simplest description has been this: we have the ability to know just about anything, but when we understand something then we can apply it in an unlimited way, and that is when demonstration takes place. When we understand something, we then have the ability to use it. Understanding is a tool. How do your students define knowing and understanding? What can they pull from this week’s lesson that helps them differentiate between the 2 words?

PSST Golden Text & Responsive Reading: You probably know the story of Sir Isaac Newton discovering gravity because of an apple falling on his head, but unless you can understand that apples were falling long before that apple fell on his head, you can’t apply that understanding to another law that operates and has always been operating: spiritual law. Perhaps our faith in God, though sincere, is a kind of wavering hope – we know we can have faith in Him – but without a solid foundation. Not understanding Spirit leaves us in the dark about just how capable God is of providing us with practical, healing solutions.

Try reading through the Responsive Reading with a new understanding of what it means to not only know that Jesus was the son of God, but to understand that we are all the sons and daughters of God and to believe in Him is to not put faith in person, place, or thing, but in the infinite Spirit that is in each of His ideas (John 12:44). What does it mean not only to know this relationship that Jesus had with God, but also to understand that he was not the only individual who God loved in this way? Were the 12 disciples given a different power to heal than the power that was given to Jesus (Luke 9:1)? How does this apply to modern day? When we call Practitioners, do they have more power to heal than we do? Who really does the healing?

PSST Section 1: What is spiritual understanding, and what does it bring us? We know that Genesis 1 is the true story of creation. Do we understand why or how that helps us today? When we understand that everything is spiritual, already made and already good, we are enabling ourselves to appreciate God’s creation in its entirety, right now! The Adam and Eve myth would have us believe that things are necessarily produced from matter—Eve from Adam, children from their parents, money from hard work, health from diet and exercise. Now, the Adam and Eve part of Genesis isn’t what is in this section of the lesson but it does come after it, so we know that this part of the creation story is preparing us to understand more about God and His creation. When the Bible says that “God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (B1) Did God know what light was, or did He understand the power of light and therefore was able to use light to dispel the darkness?

A willingness to spiritually understand God’s abundance is necessary in order to demonstrate it—to witness the evidence of it—just as a willingness to understand that turning on a light enables us all to remove all darkness in a room. We could walk into any room and know that there was a light, but not understand that turning the light on would eliminate the darkness. What are some examples from your students that show this kind of difference between knowing and understanding? How can we “sing praises with understanding” (B3, Psalm 47:7)? How can we, as the ideas of Spirit, God, and having the same understanding as Spirit, God, see that “through divine Science, Spirit, God, unites understanding to eternal harmony” (S2, p. 506:10-11)? What are some examples in daily activities that show that understanding and harmony go hand-in-hand? How does what Mary Baker Eddy says on page 505 of her textbook (S3) bring us into a new understanding of Genesis 1:6-8 (B1)? What can we learn from the true story of creation now that we understand that “spiritual understanding…is the firmament” (S3, p. 505:7-8)? Where does this spiritual understanding come from (S3, p. 505: 16-17)?

PSST Section 2: What does it mean to be God’s image and likeness? We see this recorded in Genesis (1:27, B6): "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him," but do we fully understand the meaning of this statement? If we were to hold up a mirror for ourselves, or look in a mirror anywhere in our home, what would we see? Would we need to work hard in order for the correct image of ourselves were to appear? Would we need to create an image in the mirror that would match up with what we were putting before the mirror? If we were to be a mirror for ourselves and put that mirror before God, what would God see? Would He need to work hard in order for His image and likeness to appear? This may seem like a simple and perhaps childish analogy, but we know that if a mirror were to be put before God that He would not see something material reflected, then the understanding of what man really is that Mary Baker Eddy provides for us in Science and Health on page 475 (S6) helps us to demonstrate better what it really is that God would see in that mirror: "man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness. The likeness of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit" (emphasis added, B6). When we understand man to be the reflection of Soul, Spirit, we grasp the fact that "mortal man is really a self-contradictory phrase, for man is not mortal, 'neither indeed can be;' man is immortal" (Science and Health pp. 478, 479). What ideas or qualities would do you naturally reflect and express as the image and likeness of God, Spirit?

PSST Section 3: As spiritual ideas, how does our turning to Spirit help each and every idea rather than just one idea? In this section we have the story of Joseph being brought to Egypt and assisting Pharaoh with his dreams, which resulted in his application of understanding saving all of Egypt and its surrounding areas. How does the application of understanding as exhibited by one idea of God end up blessing all ideas of God? [Your class might enjoy the poem about Joseph in upper right online.]

We can see in this section’s citations that Joseph was able to overcome this part of his story by applying his understanding of God’s care for him and God’s other ideas. How did he overcome other challenges that were presented to him? How often are we asked to apply our understanding of Spirit? How did Joseph explain to Pharaoh how he was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream (B11, Genesis 41:16)? Did he take any personal credit, or did he understand that as he was the image and likeness of God, God did all work through him? How did Joseph, and how can we, demonstrate that we are “controlled not by demons, spirits, or demigods, but by the one Spirit” (SH12, p. 84:9-10)? How are we capable of “finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness” (S17, p. 264: 15-19)?

PSST Section 4: What does healing prove? How can we affirm that we are 100% spiritual, and not one iota material? Why were the people amazed when the blind and dumb were healed and therefore able to speak and see in this section’s story (B14, Matthew 12:22-28)? Did they understand the power of God that is in each of us, or had they only heard of divine Love’s ability without fully understanding what this ability to heal meant for all mankind? Did Jesus describe disease, or did he understand that knowing what is true altogether defeats the lie because it leaves no room for the lie to make itself comfortable and convince anyone that it might be true (S19, p. 79:17)?

How can we understand that spiritual sense is permanent and find completeness in our reliance on our spiritual senses rather than on physical senses (S21, p. 486:23-26)? What power has God given us, his ideas, that enables us to be capable of identifying all that is unlike Him (S24, p. 393:12)? How can we use this power to demonstrate that we understand what spiritual power is and does for all mankind? Have you or your students had any experiences where there seemed to be a choice in recognizing the power that had been given to you? How did you make that decision, and how did others react or respond to the decision made?

PSST Section 5: What do we gain by having a spiritual understanding of the Bible? Hopefully we know the Beatitudes, but if not, let’s go over that! They were given to us by Jesus in Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–11) and begin with the word “blessed.” What is it to be blessed? How do your students define that one word? What did Jesus give us with these Beatitudes?

The Beatitude in this section of the lesson is this: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (B15, Matthew 5:3). I have found that a modern conception of the word “poor” is of people who are impoverished, who lack the necessities of life, and who, because they are conscious of this fact, accept alms in order to relieve their want. They consciously go where they believe they will be given what they need, and if they do not receive it where they have asked for this supply, they proceed, until at length they elsewhere find something that will satisfy their hunger.

Therefore the "poor in spirit," in the sense Jesus used this term, may be assumed to be those who recognize or are conscious of their lack of things needful, things spiritual [W: —“those who know their need for God” as The Message puts it.] This seems to me to be a person who is understanding of the truth, and who earnestly seeks to receive that for which they are yearning. [Like the Ethiopian reading from Isaiah in his chariot, (B17, Acts 8: 26-40),] they are striving to attain to the spiritual apprehension [as offered by the Philip who at the perfect time obeyed “the Spirit (saying” “Go… join… the chariot.” What a perfect example of “the rich in spirit help(ing) the poor in one grand brotherhood…” (S27, p. 518:15).]

The poor in spirit are very unlike the Pharisee, who takes the position that he does not need to receive because he has knowledge, and who, instead of wanting to learn, is angry when others do not accept from him what he thinks he is bestowing upon them as a favor. The "poor in spirit" are referred to by Mrs. Eddy as "the poor, — the receptive thought, — they will bring in the millennium." (SH, p. 34) Are we poor in spirit destined to become rich in spirit as we play such a huge role in world transformation? Is our aim to understand spiritually and thereby gain truth (S25, p. 547:23-25)? How are we working to understand God better? Can we understand God, Spirit, better through material means (S28, p. 481:7-9)?

PSST Section 6: What do we experience under the reign of Spirit? How often do we testify to these experiences? What does it mean to bear witness? Are we all witnesses? In a court of law, when a witness takes the stand, they are typically there to help instill a sense of confidence, for either side, in the case. If God is bearing witness with us, does that make us His evidence that He is instilling confidence in? If so, what are we evidence of (S30, p. 29: 30-32)? Thousands of years ago Jesus’ disciples witnessed wonderful healings. How are we bearing witness to healings taking place through the study and practice, the understanding, of Christian Science? How does the Christ heal now, as in the time of Jesus? How is this healing power needed today throughout the world? How can we contribute to meeting this need?

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