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[PSST: Wrestle with ideas you know will blessed you and don’t let them go till they do! (4, 5) Clear away the dusty, Genesis 2 picture! (2)]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Adam and Fallen Man”
for May 13, 2018

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

The importance of having a role model, someone to look to and use as a guideline for our own life, is a widespread idea today. We even have many different words for this kind of person, ranging from guide, to mentor, to teacher. We definitely want to be sure we’re looking at the right one and in the right way. This week’s Bible Lesson, “Adam and Fallen Man,” from the Christian Science Quarterly addresses this by assisting us in the recognition that we have a choice in who we look up to AND how we look up to them. This week’s lesson shows us how we have dominion and not subjection, how we are the blessed ideas of God and not cursed ones, and that every opportunity to work in God's name is an opportunity to look to God for every aspect of growth that we gain.

PSST Golden Text: There’s a really beautiful story in the Bible that reminds us how angels fulfill God’s promise to each of us like we are told in Exodus 23:20, He will “send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.” In the story, the children of Israel had come into the land of Moab in their journey to Egypt (this is where our Golden Text comes from this week). Balak, the king of Moab, wanted to force them out of the country so he called for Balaam, the prophet, to curse them. However, God's instructions to Balaam were very different from Balak's: "Thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed."

Even so, Balaam decided to go ahead with Balak's wishes, acting against God's command, and on his way to doing so, an "angel of the Lord stood in the way as an adversary against him." At first, only the donkey he was riding could sense the angel and refused to go forward. It was then that "the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way."

The "angel of the Lord" had blessed the children of Israel and protected them from Balak's plan. It had been crucial for Balaam to be receptive to God's messages. What are some ways today that we can experience the same kind of blessing and protection from God by listening to His angel messages and acting in accord with them? How does this tie in to heredity and the claim that many people have accepted as fact today?

Responsive Reading: There is too much thought and reliance today on the idea of (human) heredity. People have said, "The father is a thief, therefore the son will be a thief." They have said, “The parent has a disease, so we know the child will also have that disease.” This heredity business is a mistake. We are God’s children, and there is no other heredity but His for us. That is what this Responsive Reading is reminding us this week.

This heredity business has been advertised for far more than it is worth. We are separate and individual children to God—"The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are on edge." God says by his sensible prophet Ezekiel, "Ye shall use that proverb no more." "Everyman shall give an account of himself to God"—that is from St. Paul in Romans 12.14. What do we inherit from God? What is our spiritual heredity, and how does that counter the human heredity that so many rely on today?

PSST Section 1: In this section, we are reminded that in the true story of creation, God gave us DOMINION. That is our immediate inheritance from Him. What does it mean to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (B1, Gen. 1:26)?

How would you answer the questions posed in this section?

“Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (B3, Isaiah 2:22)
When did man become both spiritual and material? If he ever did become both, he must have changed because God made man in the image and likeness of Spirit.
What power changed God's work?
Isn’t it possible, isn’t it entirely logical, that man remains as God made him, but the human mind is so deadened by materialism that it knows neither God nor man aright?

“Has God taken down His own standard, and has man fallen?” (S3, SH 470:19)

Jesus gave us a command, so pure, so perfect, and so valuable that it has been named the Golden Rule: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Is not this the true standard? What higher, what more precious standard can we set up for guidance in all our daily affairs than this, the Golden Rule? Can we ever truly fall from this standard? How can we uphold it?

PSST Section 2: In this section, we are asked by the Psalmist, "Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?" When we think of the “dust” mentioned here as matter, we are being asked if matter praises us or if matter declares our truth. We might well also ask ourselves, "Can the man created from dust praise God and declare Truth? If not, is this man created from dust really God's creation? What, then, is our real heredity?" I’d like to clear away this dusty picture and see the clean and real thing! What do you think? How can we clear away the dusty picture that has been painted about us and others by Genesis 2?

Upon literal, unwavering obedience to the First Commandment, Christian Science is firmly based, having only one God, one creator, scientifically true to Himself in one spiritual creation. The activity of this eternal truth reverses the false testimony of the material senses: the sole support of all that is material, false, selfish, or degraded. Man in God's image is appearing more and more clearly to humanity as the Christ-idea, because man lives and moves and has his being in God, in infinite Mind. How can we be more obedient to the First Commandment? How can we demonstrate the activity of God and reverse the false testimony of the material senses?

PSST Section 3: In Christian Science, Adam stands for error, and Christ stands for Truth. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy explains First Corinthians 15:22 (B8) this way: “‘As in Adam [error] all die, even so in Christ [Truth] shall all be made alive.’ The mortality of man is a myth, for man is immortal.” (S15, SH 545). How is Christ the perfect antidote for the error or mistake made by Adam?

Bible scholar Stephen L. Harris notes that the account of Adam and Eve’s disobedience (B7, Genesis 3) “uses one of the staples of global folklore, a talking animal” (Exploring the Bible, p. 68). Mary Baker Eddy remarks on the familiar scene “in old Scriptural pictures” (SH 92) that includes the serpent coiled around a tree, and she points beyond the picture to the problem it represents: “The testimony of the serpent is significant of the illusion of error, of the false claims that misrepresent God, good” (SH 538). How do we “so improve material belief by thought tending spiritually upward as to destroy materiality” (S15, SH 545)? How often are we tempted by an “illusion of error” whether or not (but probably not) in the form of a talking animal? What kinds of illusions of error have you overcome? How did you overcome this Adam-like experience?

We also encounter the key phrase “mental tillage” in this section (S14 & S15). What is mental tillage? What is the difference between citation S14 and citation S15? Who is the “man” talked about in citation S14? Is that mortal man as is talked about in citation 15, or is it the highest sense of man, spiritual man, as defined in Science and Health on page 591? How do we outgrow a false sense of mortality, mortal humanity, and rise in thought and being to the truest form of man and woman that is given to us inherently as God’s children, the form that is mentioned in S14? The man whose “birthright is dominion, not subjection” (S14, SH 517)?

PSST Section 4: Just like Jacob wrestled with the angel in this section, we all have moments when we need to hold tightly to Truth while we learn more about our Truth and the truth about our identity. Can you think of a time when you felt like you were really wrestling with an idea and felt like you were not going to let go unless you were blessed first? I can! Just last week, I woke up with a very swollen face. There was no so-called cause and I really had no desire to look for one. I knew immediately that I had a choice, but more than that I was definitely not going to allow a lie about my true being interfere with my right activities that day! It sure felt like a wrestling match, because there were times when I felt like I was so close to a complete healing and then moments surrounding those when I felt discouragement trying to creep in.

I was reminded of Mary Baker Eddy’s Question in Miscellaneous Writings on page 334, “Why do Christian Scientists treat disease as disease, since there is no disease?” All I could remember was that question, but I knew that disease isn’t limited to a diagnosis; it is anything that is outside of the ease of God’s care! I knew that there was never going to be a good enough reason to treat nothing (even a claim of nothing) as something, when I knew that it had nothing to do with God, good, and therefore was no-thing! Maybe you can brainstorm some ideas of wrestling matches you’ve had recently with your class this Sunday.

Sometimes we feel alone when wrestling with “a mortal sense of life, substance, and intelligence as existent in matter with its false pleasures and pains” (S16, SH 308), but we are never alone in the care of God. God’s thoughts are constantly surrounding us and clearing the fog to strengthen our understanding of reality and of our inherent dominion over the material claim. Maybe when discussing these wrestling matches, you can also discuss how to handle this sense of loneliness or solitary struggle or simply the feeling of being left out.

What new names can we give ourselves when we overcome these challenges and win the wrestling matches? What about Dominion, or Grace, or Strength, or Beauty, or Peace? What names might God give each of His ideas when they come into a clearer understanding of their birthright?

PSST Section 5: The Canaanite woman really shows us in this section how rewarding it is to be persistent! Look what happens when you don’t give up on your blessing! Look what happens when you trust that there will be a blessing and you fight on the side of Truth until you receive it! We don’t want to be patient with error or sympathize with error or “put up with” error, with the lie about our innate harmony or freedom! We need to claim our blessing and kick everything else to the curb! This is a perfect story to depict the citation from the first page in Science and Health, “Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.”

What do we gain when we persist in the name of Truth? How do we grow? How do we experience what hymn 207 states that “God is good, and loss is gain?” What do we give up when we are persistent, and in giving this up what do we gain that is invaluable (S19)? What are the infinite blessings that Jesus showed us we were capable of gaining through Christ? How can we identify experiences of ours that are parallel to the experience of the Canaanite woman? How long can we reflect this persistence in glorifying God (S25)?

PSST Section 6: There are College and University graduations coming up, and High School graduations as well, and something that tends to come up towards the end of a school year is employment, whether it is summer employment of post-graduation employment. I think this section really does a great job of reminding us that spiritual employment operates to bless every individual who realizes that God regulates and supplies all action.

We can all be blessed with satisfying employment, because we “will triumph in the works of (God’s) hands” (B18)! Even if you aren’t looking for employment or a summer job, all of us have probably experienced at one time or another the joy of a task well done. These are opportunities to recognize God’s work and celebrate these triumphs! Real activity is expressed in both hearing and doing the will of God. Throughout eternity man must always be about his Father-Mother's business.

As we understand and practice this truth in our daily experiences, whether in the office, home, camp, shop, or on the athletic field or in a classroom, we might find ourselves thinking we are very busy, indeed. Mrs. Eddy reminds us however, that “spiritual living and blessedness are the only evidences, by which we can recognize true existence and feel the unspeakable peace which comes from an all-absorbing spiritual love” (S26, SH 264). How are we witnessing and demonstrating that each day is an opportunity to experience life as spiritual and blessed rather than material (mortal) and cursed?

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