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PYCLs— 1) WHAT IS REALLY “EVERLASTING”? 2) DOES GOD PUNISH MAN? 3) FIND EXAMPLES OF SIN PUNISHING ITSELF.4) THE TWO GREAT COMMANDMENTS. 5) ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES…
CedarS PYCLs, Possible Younger Class Lessons, for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson:

“Everlasting Punishment”
for May 1, 2022

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


 PYCL #1: WHAT IS REALLY “EVERLASTING”?

This is one of those subjects that can be approached for the youngest set without getting into the theology that gave rise to it in the first place. As the children get a little older, we can talk about why we even have this subject, and how it is a prevalent belief among traditional Christians.

Another fun activity with these older children would be to use a concordance to see where the word “everlasting” shows up in the Bible. How many times is it used in terms of “punishment”, or “fire”, or some other “bad” thing? How many times is it linked with words such as “mercy” and “love”? I’ve found this search enlightening and it would be fun to do it with the older children if you can give them the opportunity to use the online concordance especially. You should check this out first, it’s pretty amazing.

Your Concord work could also gives rise to a follow-up question. Why has religion chosen to focus so strongly on the punishment and hellfire aspect? Why do we, as humans, struggle so much with this idea of God as a punisher, or as severe in judgement, when Jesus’ message was so entirely the opposite?


PYCL #2: DOES GOD PUNISH MAN?

There are many examples in verse and story where we can find that sin, or the belief that we are separate from Love/God, is what “punishes” itself—that there is no “divine punishment” or “punisher”. When we look at the Bible, especially the Old Testament, we can definitely find passages that tell us that God is a severe and judgmental God. But all the healing, and nearly all the great stories, reveal more about love, mercy, and guidance than about punishment.

Certainly, we can point out that Jesus’ message was one of love, and of a loving God who created man to express harmony, health, goodness. Now, we all know what happened to Jesus, but we can also see that his understanding of man and God made the evil ultimately powerless!

Think of something like the 23rd Psalm that is beloved by so many. It speaks of God as a Shepherd, guiding, correcting (gently), leading, finding food/water/rest for His sheep (us). This is the model that has brought comfort, healing, and even power to mankind through the ages.

Look up the difference between the definitions of “punishment” and “discipline”. Think together about how a good mom or dad might want to raise their children. Do they want to “punish”? Or “discipline”? Does the word discipline look similar to disciple?


PYCL #3: FIND EXAMPLES OF SIN PUNISHING ITSELF.

We can find lots of examples of this in daily life. You can start the ball rolling with some dramatic examples. Try pretending to bang your head on a wall in your class over and over. Pretend that it makes your head hurt. Ask them what you should do so that your head doesn’t hurt? Of course, they will answer, “stop hitting it against the wall!”. This is, of course, silly, but it illustrates how we can tend to choose to do things that are actually self-destructive and it’s certainly not God who is reaching out and ‘punishing’ us!

I always find traffic laws a helpful analogy. We have them set up to bring safety, order, timeliness to our driving. In a busy intersection we gain some protection from following the direction of a traffic signal. If we choose to move outside the traffic laws and regularly run red lights or stop signs, never look both ways etc. we may find that we are in the path of someone else who has a green light. In that case, is it God who has “punished” us for running the red light, or did we try to live outside of that law’s protection? There are, of course, limits to this analogy, and someone may point out that their uncle was following the rules and got hit by someone who ran a light, etc. So, you may want to have some thoughtful ideas and citations from this lesson that address these points if you expect that your students might have such objections.

A good way to answer these is through a healing that involved forgiveness. This is addressed in this lesson where it tells us of God’s deep mercy, and of our need to love unconditionally. The final citation in Science and Health p.340:23/cit.30 tells us all that God does do, just to end any confusion about this matter.

This conversation can also take different paths depending on the age group. We can talk about how speaking with kindness tends to bring kinder responses, being willingly obedient to our parents or teachers tends to bring us greater joy and less friction. It also builds trust and we are given greater freedoms and responsibilities. These are the benefits of living with a consciousness that does not feel separate from Good, from Love, Truth, and so on. If sin punishes itself, then obedience, humility, love, etc. is also its own reward because we are living in harmony with divine law.


PYCL #4: THE TWO GREAT COMMANDMENTS.

The first section of this lesson contains these two Commandments. (citations B4 and B5/Deut. 6:4, 5, and Lev. 19:18). Do they recognize these statements from Jesus’ as well? It’s pretty interesting to find that Jesus preached from the Bible that he had, to remind the students that the New Testament wasn’t written until after Jesus was gone. (This is obvious, but with the younger children, it may not have occurred to them that his only Bible was different from ours today.) He preached about coming not to destroy the law (that would be Moses’ laws), but to fulfill it (Matt.5:17). Why are these the “two great Commandments”?

Take a look at the Ten Commandments and see how these two might derive from them. You could write them out on a huge sheet of paper. Ask the children to group them. Are some more specifically speaking about loving God “with all our heart…” and others more about “loving our neighbor”?
Another way to do this might be to have the Commandments cut out individually. They can work together as a class to arrange them in groupings that appear to them.
Do they start with one of these “great Commands” and move to another?
These cut-out Commandments could also be used for a fun game to put the Commandments in order at a later date if you want to keep them around.


PYCL #5: ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES…

Citation 11/Isa. 52:10 is often included in our Bible lessons. Have any of the students ever wondered what it might mean that “The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations.”? You can share the fact that the arm represents the idea of power, it is what we use to accomplish things (overtly)–and they can be reminded that most of life was physical labor in Bible days.

If God made His “arm bare”, He would be making His power to do good obvious to us, not hidden from our sight. Just as we might roll-up our sleeves and show our arm, so God is showing us, every day, that Good is powerful, present, and reliable.

The evil we see is not actual power, because it does not have its source in divine Love. It is something that we can overcome through staying close in our thought and actions to God, Love, Truth. We have to practice this good every single day so that we begin to notice and see this good truly is the only power. If we don’t practice doing and seeing this good, it won’t be in our conscious awareness and we find ourselves faced with some gloomy pictures. We want to remember that Good has “rolled-up its sleeves” for us!!


Have a great day in Sunday School!

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