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[Look to God and See the Nothingness of Evil]
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?”
For April 9—15, 2018

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett)
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683

To download a poem from Ken Cooper "spoken" by the leper as noted in in W’s PS#5b & 5c) go to the online version and click on the file in upper right.]

Most of us have or will face difficult situations that challenge our faith in God. The Golden Text promises that God takes these threats that appear so large, and are warring against us, and makes them as “nothing at all.”

Whenever we find ourselves in difficult situations, whether we’re facing sin, disease, or impending doom, we have a tendency—particularly as Christian Scientists—to try and figure out what we are doing wrong, and what we are going to have to do to get out of the situation. The Responsive Reading gives us a different approach. Here, the emphasis is on trusting God to take care of the situation—to save us, rejoice over us, love us, and even sing over us. Rather than figuring out how we are going to undo our troubles, Zephaniah tells us that God will undo all our afflictions.

The psalmist bolsters his faith by remembering all the previous times God has helped him. While acknowledging he hasn’t always been as obedient as he could have been, he takes the progressive stance of henceforth devoting himself to God, and keeping his focus on God’s power. Doing so, he is assured that God will continue to save, and support him, turning every threatening situation into a blessing. He follows through by promising to never forget God’s goodness, and protecting power.

Section 1: Look to God First

Where do we look for help when challenges face us? Do we run to the computer or smartphone and “Google” the problem? There’s lots of advice out there on everything from relationship issues and financial concerns, to physical symptoms of disease, and everything in between. Some think Internet anonymity provides insulation from having to directly interface with the medical world, or other modes of treatment. The fact is we are all free agents to look wherever we feel we will find help. But no matter how many options there are to find help humanly, there is one place where we can always look irrespective of the circumstance. We can look to God. Sometimes those who believe in God believe that when difficult situations arise God is testing them. But God is neither far off, nor testing us. God is Love always offering us an open invitation: “Look unto me, and be ye saved… for I am God, and there is none else” (B1). In this sentence we can see that unlimited help is at hand, and in fact, there are no other options. To say there is none but God isn’t limiting, or restrictive. It’s reassuring. We don’t have other options because we don’t need any. What more powerful reassurance can we have than these words: “Fear thou not…I am with you; be not dismayed; for I am they God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (B2). To top it off, the Scripture says we won’t even be able to find those that are against us. They shall be “as nothing.” This is a recurring theme in the Lesson this week. Evil in whatever form is nothing. So why need we be afraid of nothingness?

The so-called theories and laws of material belief are “of none effect” (B3). Why? Because God is All. The psalmist gives complete recognition, and expectancy to God (B4). He knows “the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations” (B5).

In Christian Science we take the Bible at its word. Not that every event is historically accurate, but that God is Spirit, Love, Truth, Life, the only Soul or Mind, and the creative Principle of all that exists. He never changes because He is timeless. Everything He makes is good, and He never allows, or causes sin, disease, or death (S1). All the ills that seem to be have nothing whatever to do with God. They only appear real to false material belief. All inharmony is illusion (S2). The triad of sin, disease, and death are made of human belief, and have no “origin or existence” (S3). They are nothingness—only a simulation. In fact, in philosophical terms they are a “simulacra”—a copy of a copy without an original. They are just lies told by other lies. Our textbook tells us that if we understood this they would vanish (S4). The problem though, is that if we believe in evil it appears real to us. So Mrs. Eddy points out the importance of choosing “the good as the reality!”

Section 2: All Evil Is Illusion

The prophet Jeremiah represents God as thinking of us in the most loving, and most beneficial way. Evil never enters into God’s thoughts about us (B6). It appears we have all sorts of thoughts both good and evil. The Bible teaches us that we shouldn’t accept every thought that wanders into our head as legitimate (B7). Throughout history there have been those who present lies as the truth. This is particularly devious when those who are supposed to be trustworthy knowingly mislead us. The prophet Ezekiel upbraids false prophets for substituting their own imaginings for the word of God (B8). This is the way evil works. It deceives us into believing that something unreal is real—its lies are illusions. An “illusion” is defined in The Student’s Reference Dictionary as: “Deceptive appearance; false show, by which a person is deceived, or his expectations disappointed; mockery.” As Christians we are equipped to see through the “false show” of mortal beliefs. Paul says we have received “the spirit which is of God,” not of the world (B9).

Substituting lies in place of God’s laws is a common method of mortal belief. Science and Health points out that if God allowed, or produced evil in any way, we would indeed be helpless. Fortunately, God has nothing to do with “mortal discords,” and in our Leader’s words, such discords, “have only a fabulous existence” (S5). The word “fabulous” here means, “feigned, devised, fictitious, invented, and not real” (SRD).

Our Master Christ Jesus, and our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, both call mortal belief, “a liar.” What makes the lie difficult to detect is that it lies using our own inner voice, and so we believe it (S6). Another name for this is “aggressive mental suggestion.” This imaginary power of error is constantly deceiving us (S7). But just like any special effect of magic on stage or screen, it is only an illusion and is never true. It’s always nothingness (S8).

Sickness and sin are illusions that tempt us. On page 495:14 (S9) is one of the most well known statements in our textbook. Many know it by heart, and repeat it to themselves often. But let’s remember that this paragraph includes specific instructions as to how to break free from these illusions. We are to “cling steadfastly to God…” allowing “nothing but His likeness” into our thought. There are many words here that indicate we have the power to give permission to what goes on in our thinking. We “allow” nothing unlike God; we “let neither fear nor doubt” interfere with our trust in God; we “Let Christian Science, instead of corporeal sense” support out understanding. Doing so, will result in error being supplanted with Truth. The illusions disappear—“become as nothing”—and reality is seen.

Section 3: Destroying the Illusion of Sin

Anyone who has ever tried to cross a rushing stream on foot knows how strong the flow of water can be. The prophet Isaiah promises that when we seem overwhelmed, God is there to lead us on. The prophet uses a military image of the standard, or flag bearer, striking the first blow in a battle. No matter how powerful the force against us, God is leading the charge before us, meeting the enemy head on (B10).

In the story of the woman taken in adultery (B11) the “flood” takes various forms. The woman may not only have been overwhelmed by her accusers, but by the urges that caused her adultery in the first place. Most scholars feel Jesus was actually the primary target of the accusers who sought to catch him either usurping judicial authority, or acting in opposition to Mosaic Law. Jesus was the standard bearer to this woman, as he stood between her and her accusers. He exposed the hypocrisy of the accusers knowing that none were guiltless. In this story Jesus made nothing of the sin, and completely dismantled the ill intent of the accusers. Commentators note that not all manuscripts include this story because translators supposed it to be fictitious, since Jesus seems to be too soft on adultery. But Jesus doesn’t say adultery is OK. He forgives her on the condition that she repent. In other words, he makes nothing of it.

It’s very easy to judge. The Scriptures point out however, that making a big deal out of someone else’s fault is not the Christian thing to do (B12). The letter to the Galatians instructs us to be meek, and to do our best to restore the individual, knowing full well, that everyone is tempted, and everyone sins. Embodying mercy in this way, we too can be a standard bearer for our fellows who struggle with sin.

Mrs. Eddy points out that Jesus’ example lifted mortals above their mistaken views of themselves, and of others (S10). He showed us how to live free from sin, as well as how to properly help others rise above it. In the Scientific sense, God knows nothing of sin, and therefore, it is unreal. But some individuals may use this as an excuse to sin because “it’s not real anyway.” That‘s not how it works. If we indulge in sin we will necessarily suffer from the effects of the belief (S11). Science and Health states, “Only those, who repent of sin and forsake the unreal, can fully understand the unreality of evil.” Therefore, those who do not repent cannot understand evil’s nothingness. That’s why a sinner has no right to condemn others. Saying evil is unreal means nothing until one demonstrates his dominion over it (S12). Indulging in that which you claim does not exist is, as our Leader says, “a moral offence.” The only way to make nothing of error is to have nothing to do with it (S13). As mentioned earlier, God doesn’t make it hard for us to accomplish this. Even in the midst of sin, we can change our course at once (S14).

While most religious thought throughout the centuries has focused on the assumption that everyone is a sinner, the Founder of Christian Science declares, “Sin should become unreal to everyone” (S15). Again, the means by which to accomplish this is comparatively simple: “mortals need only turn from sin and lose sight of mortal selfhood to find Christ…” (S16). This change of focus enables us to see our unbroken relationship with God, and to understand our true nature as His idea.

Section 4: Love Destroys the Illusion of Disease

This section highlights the ability of Love to dissolve disease into its native nothingness. Isaiah represents God as offering comfort to His people (B13). He gives us the sense that God is right with us, just as the standard bearer is the first to strike the enemy. Knowing God is our protector is a very comforting thought indeed. Theologian Albert Barnes (1798-1870) notes:

The word rendered “comfort” (from נחם nâcham) means…to draw the breath forcibly, to sigh, pant, groan; then to lament, or grieve… All the forms of the word, and all the significations, indicate deep emotion, and the obtaining of relief either by repenting, or by taking vengeance, or by administering the proper topics of consolation.

While some of these definitions seem to be reactionary toward the enemy, to me the point is that the comfort isn’t passive. It’s almost a visceral, active yearning. To be sure, God’s care is also very tender as in Isaiah 42:6 where the Lord is depicted as holding our hand through our challenges (B14). Jesus’ love and recognition of spiritual reality was so strong that disease vanished in his presence. This is particularly evident in the healing of the leper.

As we know lepers were outcasts and forbidden to touch anyone, or even to come within 150 feet of anyone downwind. The leper in the story has so much faith that he breaks convention by actually approaching Jesus. Kneeling before him, he asks for healing. In response, Jesus is moved with compassion, and before saying anything to him reaches out to touch him! Can you imagine how that must have bolstered the man’s faith, and broken the mesmeric grip of disease? Then with his hand on the man he says, “Be thou clean.” In James Nisbet’s Church Pulpit Commentary, Dean J. Armitage Robinson notes that this act revealed a distinctive feature in Jesus’ character. Often strong characters are unsympathetic and gentle characters appear weak. But Jesus was the perfect blend of strength and sympathy. This description brings out a similar range of strength and comfort as mentioned in our earlier consideration of Isaiah 40:1. The net result of that bold, love-impelled action is healing.

Jesus never made disease a reality or spoke of it as difficult to heal (S18). Though leprosy was considered one of the worst diseases of the time, Jesus was unimpressed. Just so, our Leader tells us, “One disease is no more real than another” (S19). She goes on to say that “All disease is the result of education…” That’s a pretty bold statement in itself. Disease isn’t a real germ, virus, malfunction, or disorder of any kind. It has no intelligence to fight with us. It’s just an educated belief. As such, we need not fear it, or doubt God’s ability to heal it. “Truth handles the most malignant contagion with perfect assurance.”

Our textbook tells us that understanding the unreality of disease, and Truth’s ability to destroy it is a “perfect remedy” (S20). Now we have to be careful here though. Remember, Jesus didn’t just tell the man he was clean, he touched him first. This act of love reached the man’s heart. If we just make cold pronouncements that sickness is unreal, and that nothing is wrong, we’re missing the boat (S21). We have to remember the “tender word and Christian encouragement,…the pitiful patience” are all necessary preludes to our pronouncements (S22). Big talk doesn’t bring healing. Big love does. The marginal heading for the paragraph in citation S22 is: “Genuine healing.” Love that knows the allness of God, overrules disease, and proves its nothingness. Mrs. Eddy says that when we reach the patient through divine Love, the healing can be accomplished in one visit (S23). Disease “vanishes into its native nothingness” in the presence of Love.

Section 5: Proving the Nothingness of Death

To world thought, sin, disease, and death are unavoidable facts of life. We’ve been learning that through the understanding of the allness of divine Love we can repent of sin, and recover from disease, but what about death? Even to human sense, a sinner can turn around his life, and a sick person can recover, but for the most part, reversing death seems impossible. The story of Paul reviving Eutychus after his falling three stories (B17) is one of many instances in the Bible where death is indeed overcome through faith in, and the understanding of God. In this case, death was the result of an accident. So Paul had to see through that as well. There are a few things to notice about Paul’s approach to this challenge.

Paul went to Eutychus and embraced him. This is once more, a demonstration of love in action. He also attended to the fears of the onlookers saying, “trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.” He spoke the truth here, affirming the omnipotence of Life, and dismissing the evidence of the senses. According to the account, Paul returns to preaching throughout the night until daybreak, and even shares a meal; after which, they bring the young man in alive. Paul’s preaching must have been really powerful that night. He had to have kept his thought holding firmly to truth in order to make nothing of the claim of death.

Mrs. Eddy concludes that healings such as the reviving of Eutychus prove death to be an illusion (S24). This is certainly a bold statement, but in Science man is not an organic structure, so in reality, no harm can come to him, because he isn’t dependent on material organization for life (S25). Just as sin and disease are the result of mortal belief, death is as well. Death isn’t any more powerful than sin or disease, but death is “the king of terrors”—the most feared. Death is only another phase of the mortal dream of life in matter. Science and Health tells us in order to understand Life, we have to overcome, “the belief that existence is contingent on matter…” (S26). Contingency is an interesting concept. In the dictionary it means, “falling or coming by chance.” Chance is based on belief in temporality—life in a linear timeline. We know the past and present, but we fear because we don’t know the future. Our happiness is therefore “contingent” on the unknown. That’s no way to pray.

In Science, we admit only the immortal facts of being (S27). We look away from sense evidence, to God, our standard bearer of reality. As we grow in spiritual understanding, the belief in sin, disease, and death will disappear—become as nothing (S28).

Section 6: We’re Inseparable from Christ and Have Nothing to Fear

The Lesson begins with military imagery, and it concludes with the same. Paul urges us to “be strong” (B19). Throughout the Lesson we’ve had instances of God’s presence dispelling illusions, protecting, saving, healing, and reviving us. Irrespective of the challenge, God is always with us, touching our hearts. Paul tells us as well that there is no circumstance in which we can ever be separated from the love of Christ (B20). In fact, these challenges bring us closer to him, making us conquerors.

The military imagery continues in our textbook reminding us that as Christian Scientists, we’ve, “enlisted to lessen evil, disease, and death…” (S29). We do this in every instance by realizing Isaiah’s promise that our enemies shall “be as nothing.” Error becomes nothing to us as we understand that God is All. One evil is no more difficult to overcome than another because evil is powerless. To God, divine Love, all is Love (S30). That’s all there is. “Suffering, sinning, dying beliefs are unreal” (S31). When we understand the unreality of sin, disease, and death, they will have no power to frighten or impress us. Looking to God, and knowing that we can never be separated from Him, enables us to see the nothingness of evil. Why? Because God is All, and “there is none else.”


Look for an email coming soon with Warren Huff’s additions of insights and application ideas from Cobbey Crisler on some citations in the Christian Science Bible Lesson on “Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?” for April 15, 2018. Click here for online version now.


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Maintenance Musts Progress! (More info)

Adopt the Herd Matching Fund (Match not yet met)

In the time since Giving Tuesday you helped raise over $51.25k for the Riding Program, which will be doubled through the Adopt the Herd Matching Fund, for a total of $102.2k to help feed and care for CedarS wonderful horses. We still have ~$13.75k to raise to take advantage of the $65k Adopt the Herd match. (More info )

Many other Blessings:

CAMPERSHIP APPLICATIONS COME IN DAILY! Thank you for giving camperships so much needed and appreciated for our fast approaching summer of 2018. Especially helpful are your much-needed MONTHLY gifts, past and ongoing, that can be started and adjusted as you wish at:www.cedarscamps.org/giving ] All of your gifts add up to big blessings in the lives of today's Sunday School students!

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[CedarS weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff blessed each summer at CedarS, as well as to CedarS alumni, families and friends who have requested it. However, current and planned gifts are a huge proof of your ongoing LOVE made visible and are greatly appreciated!! They not only defray the costs of running this service but also provide greatly needed camperships and essential program and operations support.

[The Met application ideas above are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of studying and applying the Christian Science Bible lessons throughout the year, not just at camp! YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of possible ways to share Bible Lesson applications with older, as well as younger, Sunday School classes by clicking the "Subscribe Now" button (lower left) athttp://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/

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