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Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

Doctrine of Atonement
for April 11-17, 2022

by Kathy Fitzer, Lake St. Louis, MO
kathyfitzer@gmail.com


INTRODUCTION:

It has come to me to think of the “Doctrine of Atonement” as the teaching of the redemption and reconciliation that comes as we accept and understand man’s at-one-ment with God that Jesus’ life (and especially his sacrifice on the cross and victory over the grave) so fully illustrated. What a wonderful sense of renewal, uplift, and freedom comes as we embrace the promise of Easter so beautifully presented in this week’s Bible Lesson.

While demonstrating his oneness with God, it was Jesus’ mission to show those around him, and generations to come, their oneness — the oneness of all mankind — with God. Jesus’ willingness to be crucified — which, of course, led to his resurrection and ascension — illustrates his love (and trust) of God, and God’s care for him, and for the world.  Jesus’ life revealed the ever-present, indestructible Christ, the ideal man, which rebukes all that is unlike God and overcomes every suggestion of evil — all belief in sin, disease, and death — and unites the universe in harmony.  What a joy it is to accept the call to follow that example and experience our oneness with God!

 When Isaiah wrote the words that constitute the GOLDEN TEXT this week, “… thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in”, he was most likely thinking about the destroyed temple and cities of Judah which were in immediate need of repair. But, the message is timeless. Christ is the restorer of whatever seems broken in human lives — whether the destruction seems to be the result of war, disease, injury, family issues, or any number of causes. I love the imagery some have used to expand on the verse: “Thou shalt build walls so high that no enemy can enter them” and “thou shalt leave no way of access to robbers.”  The light and truth of Christ — as revealed by the Messiah — is able to correct, realign, and bring redemption to any situation — and keep it safe and sound.

The RESPONSIVE READING is Jesus’ prayer desiring that all would be able feel and experience God’s love as Jesus did. The prayer, that he offered just before he was to be crucified, wasn’t a plea to be saved from the cross, but the desire that God would preserve all mankind through His name (or nature).  Jesus prayed that his sacrifice would serve to uplift the thought of others to realize their oneness with their Father and with Christ. He desired that God would “glorify” HIs Son so that Jesus could glorify God. His desire was to let his life and his example be such that others would be able to see and acknowledge God’s nature, revealing man’s oneness with their Father.  There are several references to glory and glorify in the Lesson.  My understanding of God’s glory is that it is His presence, splendor, significance, and magnificence, and that this glory was fully expressed through Jesus, as well.

Jesus said, “for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” (v. 19). To sanctify is to be set aside for a holy purpose and be equipped to serve God.  Jesus understood that there was nothing more rewarding than to be God’s servant and be able to reveal God’s nature to others.  And, he knew that the crucifixion was necessary to achieve resurrection.  It was the resurrection that would ultimately catch the attention of the world and “draw all men unto” him.  Jesus had to be lifted up — literally on the cross, and figuratively — in order to elevate thought to accept all that is represented by the Christ or Messiah, and to bring salvation to the world.  This is the message of Easter gladness.  Not only would his immediate disciples be blessed, but all who would “believe on [him]” throughout the ages.  That includes each of us.  How grateful we can be for Jesus’ love and sacrifice, enabling us to see that all mankind is truly one with God.


SECTION 1:  NO SEPARATION FROM THE ONE CHRIST

By my count, the word “one” is used 13 times in this first section.  One God expressing Himself as one creation — all bound together in one Christ.  This Christ is the divine Comforter, speaking to the human consciousness, revealing God’s nature to man. The promises in this section are amazing.  Each one of us has been given the gift of grace, God’s unconditional gift of love that allows us to realize our full potential and unlimited blessings.

Through his resurrection and ascension, Jesus “led captivity captive.”  In other words, whatever would bind or limit man was bound.  A quote in the Bible Lens from the Sentinel tells us that the ascension meant not a “Christ-departed but a Christ-filled world” (citation B1, Ephesians 4:4-8).  And living in a Christ-filled world means that nothing can separate us from the goodness and love of God.  No matter what trials confront us, our oneness with God enables us to come out on top (cit. B2, Romans 8:35, 37).

I love the imagery of our oneness with God being like a drop of water one with the ocean and a ray of light one with the sun (citation S1, 361:16).  Even if you put ocean water in a bucket and carry it far away, each drop still maintains the elements of the whole.  We remain God’s children regardless of our circumstances.  And that integrity is what ensures our safety and our wholeness.  Our oneness with God cannot be interrupted.  There truly cannot be separation, pain, or death (cit. S3, 69: 13). It is impossible for God’s idea to be separated from all that constitutes God!  Jesus proved that through his experience on the cross!  That dominion is ours, too, as we accept our oneness with God as Jesus did.


SECTION 2:  BE BORN AGAIN OF THE SPIRIT IN ORDER TO SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and held a high position in the temple.  But, rather than feeling threatened by Jesus, or standing in opposition to him, Nicodemus went to Jesus, apparently wanting to understand more about how Jesus healed.  Jesus told him he had to be born again, in order to “see the kingdom of God” (cit. B5, John 3:1-3, 6, 7).  Wasn’t Jesus pointing out that healing isn’t so much a change in material conditions as it is seeing the ever-present spiritual reality that constitutes God’s kingdom?  And the way to see it is to accept man’s oneness with God — with Spirit. Other translations speak about the need to be born “anew” or born “from above.”  There needs to be a shift from starting with limited matter and trying to get up to God, to starting with the oneness of God and man, and looking out from that completeness!

If we are to understand our relationship with God — our oneness with Christ — we must understand the “spiritual origin of man” (cit. S5, 325: 26). God is Spirit.  Because we’re so indoctrinated to believe that matter is substantial (and life limited) it can be tempting to think that Spirit is too ethereal — too vague — to have meaning for us.  But, let’s think instead about Spirit as unlimited power — an invisible, but mighty, force like the wind.  Spirit knows no limits — no beginning and no end — expands like air to fill all space, and flows effortlessly, moving us forward harmoniously.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary distinguishes between being born (meaning to be produced or brought into life) and being “born again” which is “to be regenerated and renewed; to receive spiritual life.”   Understanding Spirit to be our “primitive and ultimate source of being” eliminates the restrictions of beginning and ending and leaves us to be forever linked to the ever-unfolding completeness of God’s Kingdom of Mind (cit. S7, 63: 5). Acknowledging Spirit to be the essence of our being, we can see our (and everyone’s) unlimited nature just as Jesus did — as God’s whole, healthy, and permanent expression! Let’s, like Nicodemus, be willing to think out of the box to see what is really going on!


SECTION 3:  SAFETY COMES FROM THE FACT THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BE SEPARATED FROM THE LOVE OF GOD!

Paul’s message to the Romans in this section is similar to the one to the Ephesians that we had in the first section.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God (cit. B6, Romans 8:38, 39). The love that was expressed in the life of Christ Jesus preserved Jesus’ life from destruction — as it preserves ours.

Although Nicodemus recognized that Jesus was the promised Savior, other Jews were not as easily convinced.  They took offense at Jesus’ bold statement that his healing works were sufficient evidence that he was the Messiah.  They didn’t like Jesus’ assertion that God’s and Jesus’ natures were united as one.  And, so they attempted to stone him.  But, the love of God shielded him from the hate.  Nothing could separate him from the safety of Love (cit. B7, John 10:23-25, 30, 31, 40).  And nothing can separate us from the safety of Love, either.

It’s important to remember that hate and abuse are never personal — even when apparently aimed at a specific individual.  The Jews were being manipulated by thoughts of “pride, envy, cruelty, and vengeance” (and perhaps jealousy, misunderstanding, and other things) which are antagonistic to the Love that Jesus so completely embodied (cit. S11, 51:23). But, a higher law was (and is) in place.  Mary Baker Eddy refers to it as the “doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death” (cit. S12, 304:9-14).

As we go forward — as those in the world who are standing strong in their fight for life and liberty go forward — there will be push-back.  We must not personalize it or fear it — but know that because Spirit truly “creates, constitutes, and governs” man, the “blending of man with God, his divine Principle” truly “gives man dominion over all the earth” (cit. S14, 316:20).  That includes dominion over hate, injustice, anger, jealousy, fear, sin, disease, and death.  Nothing can separate any of God’s children from their oneness with Love!  We must know that for ourselves — and for all mankind!


SECTION 4:  JESUS’ WILLINGNESS TO BE LIFTED UP TO BLESS ALL MANKIND

Did Jesus want to be crucified?  No.  We’re told that his “soul” was “troubled.”  But, while he was dealing with the conflict between recognizing that this was what he had been preparing for and his desire to be saved from the experience, an audible voice spoke — so loud that others also heard it.  J.B. Phillips paraphrases verses 27 and 28 this way: “Now comes my hour of heart-break, and what can I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very purpose that I came to this hour. ‘Father, honour your own name!’” In response, there came a voice from Heaven, “I have honoured it and I will honour it again!” (cit. B10, John 12:23, 27-32).

Jesus was fighting a battle with his human desire to avoid pain.  Very likely he felt fear — like we sometimes do.  But, Jesus was willing to face his fears to attain the greater victory. That response can give us the confidence to face our fears, too, and achieve victory.  The important thing is that right where the fear and doubt presented themselves, Jesus’ response was to reach out to God.  And, in response, he (and everyone around) heard God’s voice of assurance.  God was not forsaking him!  And, God does not forsake His children today.

Situations do come up in our lives — and throughout the world — challenges that seem too difficult to bear, that are scary, and that we would rather avoid.  It is important to face the little challenges, as well as the big ones, as we go forward strengthened by Jesus’ example, We can get through whatever challenge we face — knowing that as we accept the challenge, not only will we be preserved, but our example will inspire others as well.  And, the more we practice and demonstrate “the two cardinal points of Mind-healing” … “the nothingness of material life and intelligence and the mighty actuality of all-inclusive God, good”, the more the imposition of evil will be defeated (cit. S19, 52:19). Then, God’s reign of harmony be seen throughout the entire world!  All men will be drawn to Christ and will realize their nature as God’s ideal, spiritual man!


SECTION 5:  PERSON HAS NO POWER OVER US — ONLY GOD

I love to think about Pilate’s question to Jesus: “Don’t you know that I have the power to crucify you or to release you?”  And, Jesus’ response … “Actually, you don’t have any power over me unless God has given it to you” (cit. B11, John 19:1, 10, 11). That’s true for us, too.  No one has any power over us … regardless of how threatening the situation seems to be. And, we actually have no power over others.  But, we can bring healing and blessing to our world, as Jesus did.

In the end, Pilate didn’t believe Jesus was guilty, but felt forced to punish him anyway.  He couldn’t harm him, though, and his actions ultimately helped to bless the world.  There may be times when our actions inadvertently have a negative impact on others, or we feel helpless to save someone from a difficult time. It can be helpful to realize that God alone governs the lives of His children.  What we can do is bear witness to the integrity of God’s creation and have the same kind of faith in God’s government that Jesus did.  Jesus asked for forgiveness for those who crucified him — seeing that it was their ignorance of their true nature (their oneness of God) that caused them to do what they did.

Mary Baker Eddy wrote that “the real cross, which Jesus bore up the hill of grief, was the world’s hatred of Truth and Love” (cit. S20, 50:30-31).  To me, “the world” is the general thought of mankind that is ignorant of man’s relationship to God as Mind’s complete idea, blending harmoniously in Love.  This false sense of man includes the warring elements of greed, jealousy, fear, anger (all kinds of sin) as well as the threatening elements of disease and death.  The “world” reacts to these feelings and strikes out. The way to reform (or literally re-form) the thought of the world is to see — as Jesus did — that these elements of thought are foreign to man’s true nature.

Identifying anyone as less than the ideal man is like grinding dirt into a beautiful piece of clothing.  Why would we do that?  Jesus refused to be shaped by the thoughts of the world.  Instead, he became “a law unto himself” and did “violence to no man.”  We need to follow that example and refuse to see anything but God’s Christ — God’s ideal man.  Trusting God, we will be led to take right action.  But, the most important thing is to watch thought and save ourselves and others from “sin and sickness” by “following the leadings of Mind” (cit. 23, 458:23).  Our job is to follow Jesus’ example and see all mankind as one with God. Then trust God to correct and govern!


SECTION 6:  RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION — THE PROMISE OF A FRESH START

We can learn a lot from men like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who were members of the inner circle of Jews, but recognized the good Jesus was doing, went to him to learn more, and made a point of being at the cross to care for him (cit. B13, John 19:38-42). There is a lesson there for us … do we actively seek to understand the works of Jesus in order to emulate them?  Are we willing to trust God as Jesus did, even in the face of extreme personal sacrifice?  Do we expect to experience a resurrection of thought? Jesus taught us that we are one with God.  We need to claim that oneness!

Even though Mary accepted the crucifixion as final, she had the courage to go to the tomb to pay her respects to Jesus. Her faithfulness was rewarded by getting to see the risen Christ.  But, even those disciples who not only didn’t believe the reports of the resurrection, but were hiding behind locked door out of fear, couldn’t be deprived of receiving the gift of Christ.  Jesus came to them to comfort them and bring them a sense of peace. There was no hint of condemnation as he greeted them (cit. B14, John 20:1, 11, 15-19). I find that very comforting.  Even when I mess up — and I certainly do — the unconditional love of God is there, and the Christ-message comes to thought to comfort, correct, and guide me back to the right path.

After having witnessed Jesus’ ascension, the disciples were continually present at the temple — the center of worship — actively preaching the good news of the risen Christ (cit. B15, Luke 24:50-53). The question I try to ask myself is … how am I responding to the many blessings I have received? Am I letting my life attest to the good?  Am I sharing what I have gleaned about the true nature of God and man?  Am I “in the temple” so to speak, “praising and blessing God”?  (cit. B15, Luke 24:50-53). Am I actively bearing witness to the reality of God and man as inseparable and whole — as one? All we can do is the best we can do at the moment— and accept that others are doing the best they can do.  But, we can always desire to better serve God as Jesus served, and be willing to do more.  God makes it possible!


SECTION 7:  BEHOLD THE LIVING CHRIST GLORIFIED IN ALL MANKIND

The phrase, “only begotten Son” is so familiar that it may be easy to skip over (at least for me) (cit. B16, John 3:16). But, I loved taking a closer look from the standpoint of the original Greek, mon-og-en-ace.  We’re familiar with the idea of a monogamous relationship being an exclusive relationship — restricted to one person.  It’s a similar idea in that mono means one.  In the case of God’s “only begotten Son” I see it as saying that God has only one child — one expression — one outgrowth.  And that is Christ. This Christ was fully expressed in the form of Jesus. But, it was the mission of Christ Jesus to show all mankind that the Christ is the identity of each of us!  Kind of like the sun having one light, though expressed by many sunbeams. Understanding that frees us to express our oneness with God as His “only begotten Son” and to see the Christ expressed in everyone everywhere — even those that don’t seem to be expressing their Christly nature at the moment!  There is one God and one Christ — one man!  The clouds of sense can’t change that!

Are we willing “not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him glorified”, as Christian Science says we should? (cit. S31, 200:27).  To glorify Jesus is to honor, dignify, and exalt him to magnificence, recognizing him to be the full expression of the glory (splendor) of God.  I’m grateful for all that Jesus did to reveal our Father to us and to reveal the nature of our oneness with our Father.  Out of that kind of gratitude, I invite you to join me in striving to more and more emulate him in all he said and did — including his willingness to sacrifice a human sense of self for a greater expression of the divine.  As Mary Baker Eddy wrote in the Manual of The Mother Church under “Easter Observances”, “Gratitude and love should abide in every heart each day of all the years” (Manual of The Mother Church, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 60:15–17).  Let’s take that to heart as a community, and bless our world, while being blessed! Happy Easter, All!  May peace reign in every heart everywhere!


A Ken Cooper POETIC POSTLUDE related to this Bible Lesson will be POSTED on CedarS INSPIRATION website & will be EMAILED TO THOSE WHO SUBSCRIBE FOR IT HERE.


GEMs of BIBLE-BASED application ideas from COBBEY CRISLER and others are yet to be fully excavated and refined and so WILL BE POSTED later this week on CedarS INSPIRATION website & EMAILED TO THOSE WHO SUBSCRIBE FOR IT HERE.


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