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Pycl: Let obedience & humility end all feeling you deserve to be punished & so heal you! (#4)
Possible Younger Class Lesson ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Everlasting Punishment”
for May 2, 2021

by Kerry Jenkins, CS, of House Springs, MO
kerry.helen.jenkins@gmail.com • 314-406-0041

Pycl #1: Share how sin punishes itself… & examples of how a repentance like Jonah’s can save a city!
Even with the small ones you can broach the subject line of this week’s lesson! What do they think of the idea that God might punish us or have us punished forever if we do enough “wrong things” during our human lifetime? Most will not think that God is that kind of being. Indeed, if your class discussed the nature of God as mentioned in a Pycl last week, they might point out that the “law of Love/Truth/Life” probably doesn’t have the ability to “punish” as it is purely Love/Truth/Life.

If the children are a bit older you can just mention that this title comes from established theological beliefs held by some Christians. Do they think that God is one who punishes? Look at the stories in this week’s lesson to get some ideas about God and punishment. Jonah states outright that God is causing the storm because of Jonah’s disobedience. Jesus tells the man by the pool of Bethesda to “go and sin no more”, and the unknown woman who bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears is told that her sins are forgiven. Does God take a hand in causing us to sin and then forgiving us? (See citation S2/539:10-13 and cit. S9/356:25-6)

This can bring a focus to the idea that “sin punishes itself” cit. S11/537:14-15 and cit. S12/6:3(only), 11-12, 14. Have them share some examples of how sin punishes itself, and you may want to have a few ideas to share as well. Look at Jonah’s story, for example. This whole fish-swallowing-thing is not thought to have literally occurred, but that doesn’t make it a less powerful example.

When we ignore what we know to be God’s direction and try to “run from it”, it can often result in some really “stormy seas” for us and even for those around us!! Consider what happens if we make willful, selfish choices in life that cost money, sadness, or just cause others grief? We are then required, in a sense, to jump into these stormy seas and repent/rethink our choices. While another can attempt to “throw us in”, this would only work if we, like Jonah, asked for that assistance, showing a willingness to change our ways, a humility that indicates a readiness to grow. So, even with smaller ones we can talk about the metaphoric power of Jonah’s story—or feel free to keep it on the level of story and discuss how Jonah’s path went from escape from God to obedience that saved a whole city from destruction!

Pycl #2: Make a “joy hat”! Experience the joy and selfless humility of accepted correction!
Look at the Golden Text and see where it tells us that the redeemed have everlasting joy “upon their head”. Discuss the “redeemed”. If you are redeemed, it would seem that you have experienced correction and mercy over some kind of wrong path you’ve taken. We all need that redemption!

When we have accepted correction, wherever and from whomever that correction comes, we get to experience joy “on our heads”—a “joy hat”! What would it look like? Can they each design such a hat from paper (or another material). Look up simple folding directions for paper hats. Have a few at the ready if you are in person. Consider what they might say or how they might be colored. Perhaps some bright stickers for these hats would help? Is it easy to feel joy when we are given corrections? It can certainly be hard!

Humility might be a helpful quality to gain, that means that we are not thinking of self, but rather, we know that all error is not self, so we can easily separate a mistake from our sense of self, and in that way welcome the joy that comes from dropping “sin”.

In the Responsive Reading from Hebrews 12:9-13 we have verses that help with this discussion. But we also can use these verses to understand that God wants only healing, only for us to recognize our goodness, our truest selfhood. Punishment never brings about that discovery!!

Pycl #3: [Joyously know & affirm that “In God I’m guaranteed to have all that I’ll ever need!]
Wouldn’t we all love a guarantee that we’d be obedient to God? Check-out citation S16/vii: 18-20.
Mary Baker Eddy tells us here that we’re guaranteed obedience to God if we really understand God rightly!

Why would understanding God rightly be a key to obedience? Have some fun with this. If we really understood God’s all-goodness and power, and our manifestation of this goodness and power, we wouldn’t be worried about matter, about sickness, sin, temptation. We would be filled with the joy and satisfaction that is God bestowed! Why would we want anything else? We wouldn’t, right? See if the children come up with some reasons that they can think of for why understanding Love, Truth, Life, etc. would be a guarantee of our obedience!! Would there be anything we could want outside of complete satisfaction? 

Pycl #4: Let obedience & humility end the feeling that you “deserve” to be “punished and so heal you!
Section 4 tells us that sickness is never a “punishment” from God. We have the right to rise up and walk as Jesus helped this man to see.  (cit. B13/John 5:2-14)  What made this man think that he was stuck by the pool? Do you think maybe he thought he deserved this disease? Maybe he thought, as many did in those days, that God made him that way, and the only way to change it was through some miracle—someone putting him in the pool at a special time. In fact, his whole lot in life was subject to other people being willing to help him because he couldn’t help himself!

Maybe we have been in a position before where we felt we “deserved” to be “punished” and couldn’t change our circumstances because of that thought? What can we do to change that dead-end thinking? What did Jesus know about this man? What did the woman in citation B15/Luke 7:37-40, 44-48, 50 find out about herself that changed her circumstance?

As I see it, there are qualities that both these Bible characters needed to find their wholeness.

  • The man by the pool needed obedience to be healed, right? He had not walked in at least 38 years, probably more. What possible likelihood was there that he could even succeed in standing, much less walking and picking up his own bed? Explain the human belief that muscles atrophy without use. What role did those muscles play in this man’s ability to be obedient? He must have had a great sense of confidence and faith to even try to do what Jesus asked!
  • And the woman in the Section 5 story must have been so very humble to show-up at a wealthy, respected man’s home and interrupt as she did! Imagine how tempting it would have been to track Jesus down somewhere where she wouldn’t have been as subject to disapproval?  But even just approaching Jesus with such humility and love, a man who was so spiritually good, took great humility.

What about these two qualities of obedience and humility are so important to healing????
Some other qualities you can introduce from these stories might be grace, love, and faith.

Pycl #5: List & embrace childlike qualities consciously—hold God’s hand to start to see your true self!
There are two references to children and the importance of holding onto childlikeness, in Section 6—citation B17/ll Tim. 3:14-17 and cit. S30/332:32-4. What does childlikeness have to do with reformation and growth, the root of escaping the punishment of sin? Why do both the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy think childlikeness is important? Make together a list of childlike qualities. How do they make us feel our closeness to God, our “distance” from sin (feeling separate from God!)?

We could liken childlikeness to holding onto our parent’s hand. When we are holding their hand, we cannot “stray”, do wrong, become separate. Think about crossing a street safely, or walking through a store. You can actually demonstrate this in Sunday School if you are in person. We cannot be lost if we are holding onto God’s “hand”!

Grown-ups sometimes think we can “do things on our own” and we forget to hold God’s “hand”. That’s why we might be tempted to think we are separate from God—why we sin. If we embrace childlikeness consciously, we are holding God’s hand. We are safe, we are sinless! We start to see our true selves!

Have a great week in Sunday School!

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