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Understanding — Receive it and Live!

Practical applications for the lesson on Life, July 12-18, 2004

Prepared by Kathy Fitzer, CS or St. Louis, MO

 In football, the pass is thrown and the receiver catches it and scores.  In the “game” of life, God is constantly imparting wisdom and understanding.  Putting all our faith in this understanding allows us to receive it and live a life free from limitation – full of the Christ, Truth, unloosening the bonds of so-called material life and revealing Life eternal.

 Golden Text:  Consider this translation of the Golden Text – “Understanding is a fountain of life to them who possess it:” (The Septuagint by Charles Thomson) The fountain of understanding bubbles forth.  Take a big drink, and see that the secret to a fulfilling life is not in what we eat, where we live or what our job is, how much we exercise, or who our parents are. It is our faithfulness in turning away from mere opinion and understanding the Word of God.

 Responsive Reading:  Notice how these verses define God’s role and man’s role as it relates to understanding.  As the source of understanding, divine Mind teaches, gives, leads, etc. As reflection, we all are naturally inclined to receive, take hold of, and keep God’s words, “For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.”

 Section I:  Be faithful to the divine understanding.

Abraham (or Abram as he is referred to here) heard God’s command and responded to it.  Leaving the familiar, and obediently following God’s direction, Abraham was protected, provided for, and promised heirs.  Just as Abraham turned his back on the popular gods of his time and “believed in the Lord,” we, too, must dispute popular theories regarding health, happiness and reproduction which would limit life, and “learn that Life is God.” (S&H p. 469, #1)  As we “understand our relation to the Divine” (S&H p. 205, #3) we’re not fooled into thinking that life is of matter.  Matter is, after all, only “the objective state of material sense.” (S&H p. 283, #4)  Rejecting the testimony of the material senses and turning to Science, we discover the unchanging harmony of life in Mind that “is the same Life, Love, and wisdom ‘yesterday, and to-day, and forever.'” (S&H #4) 

 Section II:  Understand that one creative Principle is responsible for all creation.

By today’s standards, as well as the standards of their time, Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children.  But, according to whose law?  What does God, eternal Life, know about age?  Sarah (Sarai) arrived at a human solution to the problem of not being able to have children by giving her Egyptian maid to her husband.  Abram had a son by Hagar and named him Ishmael.  But, it was important for Abram and Sarai to realize that God is the creator, and that nothing is too hard for God.  Thus God spoke directly to each of them and promised them a child of their own.  It was through this child that the establishment of an “everlasting covenant” was promised.  This covenant includes the necessity of understanding life to be in Spirit alone.  Mrs. Eddy states, “Mortals can never understand God’s creation while believing that man is a creator.  God’s children already created will be cognized only as man finds the truth of being.” (S&H p. 69, #10)  The key to overcoming limitations associated with the beliefs of material life (in whatever form those limitations appear) is to see that “Life is, always has been, and ever will be independent of matter; for Life is God, and man is the idea of God, not formed materially but spiritually, and not subject to decay and dust.”  (S&H p. 200, #8)  Leave material creation out of the equation! 

 Section III:  Understand that we are all precious to God.  There are no stepchildren in God’s creation and birth order is inconsequential.

Family relations may not have changed that much over the years.  Jealousy, envy, and competition have always been forces to contend with.  In Sarah’s eyes there wasn’t room for both Ishmael and Isaac in the same family.  This naturally distressed Abraham, but God assured him that both sons would be blessed with nations – not to worry.  Today, situations involving second marriages and merging families can present similar reactions – parents being concerned that their child gets what (s)he “deserves.”  And, certainly we are seeing world problems stemming from the competition of nations. The solution lies in understanding that man is not a creator.  “In Science man is the offspring of Spirit.” (S&H p. 63, #11)  “Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals.  It is the open fount which cries, ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.”  (S&H p. 12, #13)  In this realm of Spirit there is plenty for all – regardless of parentage or birth order.  In the Bible story, we find that Ishmael’s voice is heard in the desert and his mother’s eyes are opened to see a well of water with which to nourish her son, so that he does not die.  (Gen. 21, #7) The name Ishmael means, “may God hear.”  God always hears and responds to the needs of His children.  The key is to turn away from the evidence of the material senses and admit only the facts of divine Science – no matter what. (S&H p. 471, #15)

 Section IV:  Understand the eternal co-existence of God and man – the Christ.

The Christ, as demonstrated by Jesus, is eternal.  Jesus pronounced himself to be “the light of the world” and promised, “If you practice what I’m telling you, you’ll never have to look death in the face.”  (John 8, #10 –  The Message)  The Jews were confused by the fact that Abraham and the prophets (clearly righteous men) had apparently died.  But, Jesus was speaking of the continuity of the Christ (the divine manifestation) rather than of a material personality.  V. 56 and 58 are translated this way, “Abraham – your ‘father’ – with jubilant faith looked down the corridors of history and saw my day coming.  He saw it and cheered.”  “Believe me,” said Jesus, “I am who I am long before Abraham was anything.”  The use of the present tense indicates the ever-presence of Life that is “the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.”  Human understanding – material theory – defines life according to the evidence of the senses.  But spiritual sense reveals the understanding of Life as Jesus presented it.  According to Mrs. Eddy, “he defines everlasting life as a present knowledge of his Father and of himself, – the knowledge of Love, Truth, and Life.”  (S&H, p. 410, #19)  Jesus understood that we live before “birth” and after “death.”  We need to accept that fact, and reason out from our inseparable, co-existent, relationship with Spirit if we are to drop the limitations of the false belief of life originating in matter.  We can’t afford to wait for the world to arrive at this conclusion, but now “we must have faith in all the saying of our Master, though they are not included in the teachings of the schools, and are not understood generally by our ethical instructors.”  (S&H p. 429, #18)  Be a trendsetter!

 Section V: Understanding eternal life leads to demonstration.

Jairus came to Jesus to ask him to heal his dying daughter. Overhearing Jairus’ friends reporting that his daughter was already dead, Jesus requested just one thing of him … “be not afraid, only believe.” (Mark 6: 36) The Message translates this request, “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.”  Upon arriving at the house, Jesus immediately corrected the people’s mistaken perception, and then put them out of the house so that the child was surrounded by the Christ-consciousness. In order to demonstrate Life as Jesus did requires us to hold as true only the facts of Science.  We cannot be taken in by the testimony of the material senses – no matter how convincing they seem.  Markers 21 and 24 in Science in Health, p. 427 and 428 give a clear and logical explanation of why we can say in Science that there is no death and how to go about demonstrating Jesus’ words, “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”  One sentence from that paragraph states clearly, “If it is true that man lives, this fact can never change in Science to the opposite belief that man dies.”  Notice the use of the words fact and belief. As in all sciences, one must accept as fact that which has been proven true, even before one has fully demonstrated it themselves. (It is helpful to read pages S&H 426-430 in context.)  The Student’s Reference Dictionary gives this definition of death, in addition to the traditional definition:  “perpetual separation from God; being under the dominion of sin, and destitute of grace or divine life.”  So, we have the opportunity to demonstrate Life every time we are tempted by the suggestion of lethargy or inharmony of any sort that would separate us from God, divine Life.  Understanding Life, we give up trust in that which is inherently limited – matter of any kind – and let the spiritual facts appear.

 Section VI: Understanding lifts the veil of mystery and reveals the continuity of Life.

Through what has come to be known as the transfiguration, Jesus showed Peter, James, and John (perhaps his most promising disciples) that life is not confined to the body nor to a point in time.  The Message reports, “His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes.  Sunlight poured from his face.  His clothes were filled with light.  Then they realized that Moses and Elijah were also there in deep conversation with him.” (#12, Matt. 17: 2-3)  At first they missed the point, but Jesus helped them focus on the lesson, rather than the personalities.  In his epistle, John explains the purpose for Jesus’ teachings – that we may understand that the Son of God (the living Christ) comes to human consciousness that all may understand that we have eternal life because we, too, are one with God. (# 13 I John 5: 13, 20) The law (Moses) and the prophets (Elias) came to prepare human thought for Jesus’ final demonstration whereby “we could recognize and understand the truth of God – what a gift! – and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.” (I John 5: 20 – The Message) Divine Science is the promised Comforter that the Father sent to be with us forever, explaining what Jesus proved in such a way that we, too, can demonstrate Truth.  Take a close look at what is cited from Science and Health in this section about how entirely separate the belief of material living is from Life divine and about how Science reverses the testimony of the material senses so the Truth can be seen.  There is no birth, no death, no maturing, and no decay in Life.  Life is full everyday because God, Spirit is fully expressed always.  I think this line sums it up: “When we realize that Life is Spirit, never in nor of matter, this understanding will expand into self-completeness, finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness.”  (S&H, p. 264, #28)

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