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[Use your Key to Eternal Life!]

Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on
"Life" for January 20, 2013
by Christie Hanzlik, C.S., Boulder, CO 
web address: www.christiecs.com
ccern@mac.com 720-331-9356

This week’s Bible Lesson explains eternal life.  Eternal life means more than just living in a mortal body forever and ever.   Movies, books, and TV-shows offer hundreds of accounts of supernatural beings that “live” forever in mortal bodies.  According to legend, for example, vampires are “immortal” in that they “live” forever in their mortal flesh.  The subtext of many such movies is that vampires struggle to find meaning and purpose for themselves after “living” for hundreds of years.   They are chained to an existence in which they must suck the lifeblood out of others.  Ultimately, their lives lose freshness and excitement despite their having special powers, and they are left with feelings of depravity, or at least no lasting joy besides trying to be more “human” or feeling love through a “human.”

But vampires are not immortal; they have “eternal mortality,” which lacks any real purpose, meaning or joy.   The opposite of mortality, as this week’s lesson points out, is eternal life.

While you may not think about vampires every day, the underlying themes behind vampire stories—struggling with mortality, lacking a sense of purpose, carnage, suicidal tendencies, and a fixation on death—seem to show up in cultures around the world.   Arguably we see more images about vampires and other morbid beings in popular movies than we see positive expressions of eternal life.  These themes have also shown up in news reports around the world in which one person seems to take the lives of many.  We should be alert to these suggestions about mortality that seem to creep into our thinking.

This week’s Bible Lesson offers tools for us to guard our thought against letting in the suggestions of mortality.  We are not victims, nor are we in the minority as we refute mortality.  One right thought—eternal life—weighs more than a thousand wrong thoughts.  (for more on this idea, look up “What you think counts” by Milton Simon)  We Christian Scientists, with our focus on eternal life, elevate the thought of the entire world.

One way to see this week’s lesson is as a direct refutation of the claims of mortality and purposeless existence.  With an understanding of eternal Life, we find greater meaning, satisfying purpose, constant progress, growing joy, and enduring comfort. 

Here’s another translation of this:  “this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” (NLT)   The Responsive Reading expands upon this idea, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life.” (John 17:20)

Golden Text and Responsive Reading
The Golden Text (GT) and Responsive Reading give clear directions for discovering eternal life.  The GT reads like a definition, “…this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”  In other words, we find eternal life by knowing the only true God and following Jesus Christ in the way that he’s shown us.  The Responsive Reading expands upon this idea, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life.” (John 17:20)

 

Section 1: Step One to Eternal Life: Knowing the True God
The first section offers a description of the true God.  “The Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an ever lasting King:” (B1)  I love the idea of God as King.  We can picture a kingdom in which He governs.  It is a perfect kingdom full of harmony and wonder and without divisive politics because the perfect King governs.  This is the kingdom of heaven, in which we all live.

When a “certain lawyer” asked Jesus how to get eternal life, the Wayshower ask him a question back (the Socratic method) about what the law was to which the lawyer answered: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” (B4)  This answer of the lawyer Jesus approved.  It is much different than we might get if we consulted a medical doctor, but unlike the medical answer, the real path to eternal life has remained constant over thousands of years.  Here’s a link to an article—“An Important Question,” by Ira C. Hubbell—on this topic: http://sentinel.christianscience.com/issues/1904/2/6-25/an-important-question

The idea that we discover eternal life through our love for God is a direct challenge to the vampire fantasy of eternal mortality.  Instead of clinging to mortality and the flesh in a vain attempt for meaning, we are able to find “infinity, freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss” through our “longing to be better and holier, expressed in daily watchfulness and in striving to assimilate more of the divine character…” (S2, S4)

We never find real satisfaction through mortality.  As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Spiritual living and blessedness are the only evidences, by which we can recognize true existence and feel the unspeakable peace which comes from an all-absorbing spiritual love.” (S5, emphasis mine)

Section 2:  Step Two to Eternal Life: Knowing Jesus Christ as the Wayshower
Jesus constantly demonstrated the path to eternal life for all of us.   As Mary Baker Eddy states, “Jesus taught the way of Life by demonstration, that we may understand how this divine Principle heals the sick, casts out error, and triumphs over death.” (S6)  Throughout Jesus’ travels, he loved and healed all.  His followers brought to him “all that were diseased,” and instructed them that needed only to “touch the hem of his garment.”  Everyone who reached out to touch the hem “were made perfectly whole.” (B6)

To discover eternal life we should understand what it means to “touch the hem of his garment.”   [B6, Matt. 14:36]  To touch the garment, we must stretch out our arms and reach boldly toward Christ.  The hem, translated more precisely was "the Kanaph" or wings of Jesus' garment, which represented the Ten Commandments [see the Downloadable file "10 Commandments on the hem of Jesus' garment" attached to the online version].  Reaching and touching the Ten Commandments, of course, holds special significance.  While reaching for the Kanaph and agreeing to the Ten Commandments took humility.  Thank you to friend-of-CedarS and polyglot Shanda Lear-Baylor for pointing this out and for sending the downloadable picture of Jesus' robe.  Imagine yourself bowed and reaching boldly for the hem of Christ’s garment, knowing with confidence that touching it results in spiritual renewal.  What a strong image!  Bowing and reaching toward a greater and greater understanding of Christ [and his living of the Ten Commandments]  is something we can all do everyday, and this spiritual action fulfills the law: “the meek… shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.”  (B9, Ps.22:26)

The qualities of humility and bold faith in Christ are not present in the macabre creatures that have eternal mortality.  Instead, those creatures tend to be arrogant and/or despondent about their existence, and tend to act in a way that is distinctly un-Christ-like.

We are not seeking eternal mortality exemplified by vampires, nor are we focused on death.  Instead, we are discovering eternal life as exemplified by Christ Jesus.  We are learning to obey his instruction to “love the Lord thy God with all [our] heart, and with all [our] soul, and with all [our] strength, and with all [our] mind.”  [Click http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/theme/ for a glimpse of CedarS 2013 theme T-shirt that illustrates the all-out, humble commitment to God that is what life is “all about!”.]  We are bowing and reaching for the hem of Christ’s garment, knowing that this results in a better and better understanding of God.   As Mary Baker Eddy states, “Not materially but spiritually we know Him as divine Mind, as Life, Truth, and Love. “ (S11)

[Warren's healing from ideas in this section:
In Luke 11:20 Jesus shared his confidence in the spiritual power of the 10 Commandments when he announced that he "cast out devils . . . with the finger of God" — the same "finger of God" that was used to write the 10 Commandments. (Ex. 31:15)  I had a wonderful healing this week of a nagging cough by reaching out to "touch the fringes of eternity" (Hymn 64) that are implicit in each of the 10 Commandments.  The Commandment that resonated with me in a new way was the 3rd one about not taking God's name (or nature) in vain.  I saw that God's nature was simply defined in citation S2 when Mrs. Eddy says: "God's being (nature) is infinity, freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss." (481:3) I declared that it was inevitable for me to do my job of expressing God's being as Science and Health states:  "Man is the expression of God's being." (470:23)  and that I could never express "infinity, freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss" in vain, or without tangible, healing results. There was certainly no freedom, harmony or bliss being expressed in a cough. Furthermore I was not about to break either the 8th Commandment by stealing what did not belong to me (the cough) or to break the 9th Commandment by bearing false witness to or about neighbors who also seemed to be exhibiting this "involuntary action".  (S&H 187:22)  What strong laws worthy of confidence these were to healing my case!  As I reached out to live the Ten Commandments that always surround and empower the Christ  I was instantly and permanently healed. Try it!  You'll like it!!]

Section 3: More matter doesn’t give us eternal life. 
In this section we read about Jesus’ parable of the rich man who stored more and more goods, keeping them for a future day.  And yet, he did not store up any spiritual treasure and when the day comes when he doesn’t have his storehouse, his life is empty and meaningless.

We can search and search for material satisfaction—riches, pleasures, fame—and yet this will never give us a full sense of purpose and worth.  This is one of the lessons that vampires and their eternal mortality teach us… they’ve taken this to the extreme… they have powers, riches, and lots of excitement of the flesh, and yet cannot find peace and enduring comfort.   Mortal/temporal pleasures cannot give us eternal satisfaction.  As Mary Baker Eddy states, “The beliefs we commonly entertain about happiness and life [such as riches, pleasure and fame] afford no scatheless [untouchable] and permanent evidence of either.  Security for the claims of harmonious and eternal being is found only in divine Science.” (S14)  She continues, “It is only when the so-called pleasures and pains of sense pass away in our lives, that we find unquestionable signs of the burial of error and the resurrection to spiritual life.”  (S14, 232:7, 27[Underlining only in S14 is offered by Warren along with a correlative hymn: “Only God can bring us gladness, only God can give us peace.” (263)]

When we seek eternal life through Love’s great blessings, we are sure to meet with peace and comfort.  Sometimes we may get distracted for awhile and seem to be off course from the path of eternal life, but Mary Baker Eddy explains, “The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children into the arms of divine Love.  Then we begin to learn Life in divine Science.”  (S13)

We all learn the lessons of eternal life eventually.  We can take comfort in this for ourselves and for those who we may feel are on a distracted path.  As we read in Science and Health, “Truth will at length compel us all to exchange the pleasures and pains of sense for the joys of Soul.” (S15, 390:9)

Section 4:  God gives us the strength to follow Jesus’ path of eternal life.
We need not worry that we’re not strong enough to follow Christ’s example.  In Psalms, we read, “the Lord is the strength of my life.” (B15)  We feel this strength as we turn toward God for support and desire to live a God-centered life.  The next verse in Psalms is a precious prayer, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.”  (B15, Ps. 27:4)   What a great idea…to inquire in His temple!  To me, this means that the answers I seek are answered by Love/God, not by endless academic rhetoric or intellectualism.  All of our questions are answered as we listen to Mind/God’s assurance.

In this section, we see that Peter and John proved the strength and wealth that come from relying on God.  They encountered a man who hadn’t been able walk since birth and who asked them for money.  Peter told the man, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”  The next part of the story is great… John pulls the guy up from the ground and “immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.”  No need for physical therapy or weeks of building up his muscles… he walked immediately.  Not only this, but he was leaping!—“walking, and leaping, and praising God.” (B16, Acts 3:1-8

Peter and John demonstrated that our strength and power does not come from “silver and gold,” it comes from our accepting God as the ultimate authority on our health.  And the man who was healed showed that this strength isn’t limited to Jesus’ disciples…he was able to immediately leap and praise God.  The “superpowers” that we gain from following Jesus are amazing, a true blessing.  And our God-given strength is not supernatural like those of vampires, but “supremely natural,” and available to everyone. (see SH xi:14)  Following Jesus’ teachings, we can “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” (Matthew 10:8)  These are the words on the front of Science and Health, the textbook based on the Bible, that teaches us how to follow Jesus better.   And this is the joy of eternal life.

Section 5:  Follow the Directions for Eternal Life.
In this section, we receive step-by-step directions for enjoying eternal life.  In Romans, Paul tells us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  (B17, Romans 12:2, NLT

Paul’s instructions are clear—don’t copy the behavior going on around you thoughtlessly—but what should be our focus?  Paul answers this question too.  In Philippians, he instructs us, “Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.”  (B18, Phil. 4:8, NCV)

OK, we can think about these things.  But we can’t just sit around thinking all day.  How should we act?  This question is also answered in the Bible.  In 1st Peter we are told how to act: “be in agreement, understanding each other, loving each other as family, being kind and humble.  Do not do wrong to repay a wrong, and do not insult to repay an insult.  But repay with a blessing, because you yourselves were called to do this so that you might receive a blessing.”  (B19, I Pet. 3: 8, 9, NCV)

Mary Baker Eddy’s words help us understand these instructions even better.  She explains, “Let the perfect model be present in your thoughts instead of its demoralized opposite.  This spiritualization of thought lets in the light, and brings the divine Mind, Life not death, into your consciousness.”  (S24, 407:24

It may sound difficult to always keep the perfect model before our thoughts, and to always follow biblical instructions.  But when we practice, we get better and better at it.  And Mary Baker Eddy explains that even one moment of doing this gives us a taste of eternal life.  She writes, “One moment of divine consciousness, or the spiritual understanding of Life and Love, is a foretaste of eternity.”  (S25, 598:23)

Section 6: How do we insure that we’re on the path of eternal life?
If we forget the instructions from the previous section, or if we are ever in doubt as to how to feel the satisfaction of eternal life, we can remember the even more simple instruction: love.  In 1st John, we read, “We know that we have left death and have come into life… because we love each other as brothers and sisters.” [B22, I John 3:14, Easy to Read Version (ERV)]  And, in Jude we’re reminded that as we understand our eternal life, we can stay safe in God’s love: “Keep yourselves safe in God’s love, as you wait for the Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy to give you eternal life.” (B24, Jude 1:21, ERV)

Mary Baker Eddy reaffirms the importance of love in understanding eternal life.  She writes, “’Love one another’ (I John, iii.23), is the most simple and profound counsel of the inspired writer.”  (S26, 572:6[And again: “Love alone is Life; And life most sweet, as heart to heart Speaks kindly when we meet and part.” (Hymn 30)]

When we wonder if we are making sufficient progress to understand that “Life is God,” we can ask ourselves the questions Mary Baker Eddy poses: “Am I living the life that approaches the supreme good?  Am I demonstrating the healing power of Truth and Love? If so, then the way will grow brighter ‘unto the perfect day.’”  (S29, 496:9)  And then we can strive to answer, “Yes!”

Whenever we sense a suggestion of mortality or death, whether it takes the form of a vampire movie or senseless act of violence, we can affirm that God is present, God is here, and God is all.  Recall that one true thought about eternal life weighs more than a hundred thousand false ideas about mortality. 

Indeed, our spiritual understanding of life refutes mortality.  Mary Baker Eddy makes the point emphatically… notice how many times she uses the word must:  “We must realize the ability of mental might to offset human misconceptions and to replace them with the life which is spiritual, not material…The great spiritual fact must be brought out that man is, not shall be, perfect and immortal.  We must hold forever the consciousness of existence, and sooner or later, through Christ and Christian Science, we must master sin and death.  The evidence of man’s immortality will become more apparent, as material beliefs are given up and the immortal facts of being are admitted.”  (S28… consider reading all of page 428-430, which are full of “musts”)

This bible lesson holds the key to understanding eternal life.  The last citation unequivocally summarizes its message: “Spiritual attainments open the door to a higher understanding of the divine life.”  (S30, 10:15)


[The application ideas above are from a Christian Science Practitioner who has served as a Resident Practitioner at CedarS Camps. They are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of study and application of 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) at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/

Warren Huff, CedarS Director & editor of these notes & bracketed, italic additions.]

[THANKS TO YOUR SUPPORT CedarS "Emerge ‘n See" NEEDS were met by year-end!  We were SO grateful able to buy needed hay and get timely funding for building and equipment repairs!  While our herd still needs your "adotive" support to be fully fed, trained and ready for camp, our focus now goes to filling camp with worthy campers!  With Early Enrollment expiring at the end of January, our main funding goals for early 2013 are raising funds for camperships and for operations support.  If you'd rather not give online, thank you for mailing your checks to:

CedarS Camps Office,
1314 Parkview Valley Dr.,
Manchester, MO 63011

Or for calling us at
636-394-6162 to give a monthly pledge or a single, Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card gift.]

[Additional Director's Note: You can sign up to have these application ideas emailed to you free — by Monday each week in English; or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION: in German, thanks to Helga and Manfred; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio.  A voluntary French translation by Pascal or Denise cannot be guaranteed due to their busy schedules. An "official" version of the weekly Portuguese translation is now available for CedarS Mets, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil.  You can signup at http://www.cedarscamps.org/ and click "Newsletters" to signup for the Portuguese version.
 This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 12-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  (Ask and look for "Possible Sunday School Topics "and "Possible Younger Class Lessons" in subsequent emails.) These weekly offerings are intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study, application and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "mets "and Sunday School ideas are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension and background as well as new angles (and angels) on the daily applicability of some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e.B-1 and S-28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "Met" (Metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the Bible (B-1 thru B-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-30). The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one.  We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of the ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.]

 

 

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