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Editor’s Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the C.S. Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp. If more information or the text of this Lesson is desired, please see the Director’s Note at the end. The citations referenced in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. These two books are the ordained pastor of Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. Other reference books are fully noted at the end.)

(What You See Is What You Get)
Lesson application ideas for: Reality for
March 21-27, 2005
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Bartlett, Illinois

Golden Text:
The golden text is the culmination of Paul’s working through the conundrum of human experience. He is expressing thanks that Jesus has, through his demonstration, freed us from the “body of death.” In other words, Jesus has provided the means of deliverance from the paradoxical and often tumultuous experience called human existence by proving the reality of spiritual existence.

Responsive Reading:
Reality is that which IS. In I Corinthians, we have a basic confession of Christian faith. It is predicated on the acceptance that Jesus’ demonstration was fact not fiction. This was obviously very important to Paul because if his thesis is false, his “preaching [is] vain.”

Paul directly confronts disbelievers in the resurrection. Not only does he maintain the gospel as historical fact, he concludes that Jesus’ victory over the grave secures eternal life for all believers. Jesus proved that the material personality that appears to be housed in a body is not the reality of our being. Our true essence is spiritual and indestructible. Jesus overcame the flesh, and so can we. His victory is our victory. Therefore, we should be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…[our] labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Have you ever felt doubtful about God or your relation to Him? Sometimes our questions seem to come from within, and at other times, we are faced with the doubts of others. These doubts arise because what appears to be real to the physical senses is in direct conflict with what spiritual sense declares. Hence, the resistance Jesus ran into. The conflict was so intense that those believing in the material view did everything they could to stop the truth from being heard, even to the point of attempting to kill Jesus. But the attempt failed because Jesus proved that the real identity of man could not be touched. The real man is always safe and sound in the kingdom of heaven.

Throughout this Lesson, we will see how Jesus’ awareness of the truth destroyed apparent lies and brought reality to the surface. Citations from Science and Health will give us directions on how to do this for ourselves. And as Paul suggested, Jesus’ example gives us the path to our own victory. We tend to believe what we have become used to. Even a lie if believed, appears to be the truth. But as we practice seeing things from God’s viewpoint-from reality-the less we will be fooled by the testimony of the senses. When we know the truth, the lie evaporates and reality appears. What really is comes to the front.

SECTION I: To See Reality-Change Your Premise
In contrast to the unbelievers Paul was addressing in the Responsive Reading, this section begins (B1) with an Old Testament prayer of confidence. According to Abingdon, “It is the prayer of an undoubting monotheist, conscious of the need of a spirit of thankfulness and of a “perfect heart” as conditions of a real and personal relationship to the omnipotent and only God….” There is no getting around the fact that in order to see reality, one must begin from the standpoint that there exists a divine Principle that governs the universe harmoniously.

Next we turn to the ministry of John the Baptist (B2). He too, had a solid conviction that there would be one who would be capable of stripping away the status quo and revealing the reality of things. As mentioned before, what appears to the senses contradicts what is actually real. So in order to see what is real, one needs to change one’s mind about things. That is what it means to “repent.” John’s message challenged the traditional order of things. He knew that one needed to be baptized or cleansed from his old way of thinking if he were to see things in their true light. “The figure of the winnowing fan means that Jesus will be concerned only with reality…” [Emphasis added] (Abingdon).

Next we have the citations from Acts, Isaiah, and Revelation all essentially confirming the mission of Jesus from different standpoints of time. Acts (B3) is basically a contemporary confirmation of what Jesus accomplished. Isaiah (B4), was a statement from the past, predicting the effect of Jesus’ mission as if had already taken place. This is known as speaking in “the prophetic perfect” (Dummelow). Finally, Revelation (B5) is a prophetic vision foretelling the final effect of that mission. So in essence, Jesus’ mission to reveal the reality of things transcends time. It just “is.”

Science and Health begins by defining reality: “spiritual, harmonious, immutable, immortal, divine, eternal” (S&H 1). Mrs. Eddy states her solid conviction that what Jesus did demonstrated the reality of good and the unreality of evil (S&H 2). She acknowledges that to the mortal senses, reality seems hard to comprehend, but Christian Science cleanses our false sense, enabling us to see the truth (S&H 3). The Science of things is the reality of things. Everything Christian Science teaches is supported by Jesus’ teachings (S&H 4). In S&H 5, we are given a directive. We are to insist on the spiritual reality. If we fully embrace the real, the unreal will begin to diminish. If we see reality, we’ll get it.

SECTION II:  Jesus Proved Who Man Is
Here we have a healing (B6) that also serves as a metaphor for what it takes to see spiritual reality. Material senses are of no use in seeing reality. Spiritual sense needs to be exercised. In John (B7) we have a typical example of how those immersed in the sensual fail to recognize the spiritual or real. It’s surprising to count how many times throughout this gospel Jesus is asked, “Who are you?” Jesus patiently persisted answering them over and over again, but they just didn’t get it because their lives were so steeped in the material view, that they were incapable of comprehending anything beyond it. Their own sin blinded them to who and what he was. They considered Jesus’ claim of oneness with God to be outrageous. In their view, Jesus was a blasphemer. He dared to make himself equal with God. Jesus left them and went to a more receptive place. Those who were willing to think outside the box of materiality appreciated and recognized Jesus’ mission.

In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy explains how the views of the people were hiding from them who Jesus was and what he was teaching (S&H 6, 7). What is real to spiritual sense is unreal to material sense and vice versa (S&H 8). Jesus saw things from an entirely different perspective than the rest of the world. He saw things from a spiritual point of view. His purity and refusal to be polluted by sensual beliefs enabled him to do so. The spiritual view was real, and it revealed the reality of whatever he beheld (S&H 9). Healing was the result. When we see things from that spiritual standpoint, we too, will realize through healing, that the only reality is the spiritual view (S&H 10). Think about this. If you have trouble seeing what’s true, take the time to examine your thinking. Are you operating from the standpoint of the material view or the spiritual? Try reasoning from a purely spiritual perspective and see what happens. To the degree you let go of the material view and adhere to the spiritual, you will begin to see and experience reality.

SECTION III:  False Personality Lashes Out
According to Dummelow, nearly every aspect of this trial (B8) was illegal according to Jewish custom and law. But Jesus’ detractors were full bent on silencing his message. Volumes have been written analyzing this event. Last year’s film Passion of the Christ, emphasized the brutal nature of Jesus’ persecutors. All in all, the trial and crucifixion portray the vehement resistance against anything that truly upsets the known order of things. Though silent throughout most of his trial, Jesus could not deny his sonship to God. His answer enraged the authorities and they sent him to Pilate. Matthew’s version of the event has Pilate being cautioned by his wife that Jesus was innocent (B9). The prevailing sentiment was that Jesus should be condemned. This could be seen as the culmination of the collective resistance against Jesus’ message. Perhaps Pilate’s wife was able to think independently of the crowd and had a glimpse of what Jesus stood for. Pilate is often portrayed as being unsure or reluctant to take responsibility for condemning Jesus. Even though he may have been unsure of what to do, he bowed to the pressure and sidestepped the question by allowing the people to decide.

Tradition has it that hecklers were planted in the crowd ensuring that they would call out for Jesus to be crucified. In this can be seen the template for the reception spiritual ideas meet in human thought. Today the resistance continues even within one’s own thinking. Be aware that every inclination away from holiness, is a specific attempt to silence the voice of truth and keep reality from being seen.

The verses from John (B10 & B11) briefly summarize the crucifixion and burial, followed by Mary Magdalene’s first approach to the empty tomb. Again, there are many, many commentaries, alternate accounts, and analyses of these hours that have galvanized Christian theology for the past two thousand years. Unquestionably, Jesus’ final demonstration was the ultimate proof that what he preached was true.

Considering the amount of written material and theories Jesus’ crucifixion has produced, it is remarkable that Mrs. Eddy could write about it so succinctly. While acknowledging the violence Jesus endured (S&H 11-13), she doesn’t dwell on it. Instead, she keeps thought focused on his mission. Jesus proved that the only “real Life is God…” (S&H 14). He knew that his personality was not the essence of who he was. He knew that his true identity could not be touched by the hatred of his persecutors. “Pride, envy, cruelty, and vengeance” were the reaction against the purity that rebuked them. Those mired in material thinking couldn’t recognize Jesus before the crucifixion, and they certainly couldn’t comprehend him afterward. But Mary did see him. There was something in her understanding that was genuine enough to make her receptive to his real identity. All the characters in the drama of the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection were at different places in their understanding of reality. So they each saw the same thing differently. Think about Jesus’ unwavering conviction for the reality of things. Ask yourself what stance you would take if faced with such powerful resistance. In fact, though not as obvious, you are faced with it every day.

SECTION IV: Real Man Not Defined by Body
Mary’s experience at the tomb (B12) is a clear example of how we can be blinded to reality by the overwhelming testimony of the senses. Believing what the senses were telling her, Mary first assumed the worst. But the voice of the Christ, immediately melted the illusion and she saw the reality. We too, can respond to the voice of Truth that calls to us through our grief. Note that even though she was at first searching for what wasn’t there, her yearning brought her to the point of seeing the reality.

The disciples were locked away in fear for their safety, but even so, the Christ came to them and met their need. Thomas who wasn’t at the first meeting said that only physical evidence would convince him that Jesus had risen. Once again, eight days later, Jesus gave Thomas the opportunity to believe. Each of these scenes of Jesus’ resurrection, show how those in different states of thought see things in different ways. But Jesus proved to each one that the apparent death of his body did not mean the end of him. His real identity could not be harmed. Do you sometimes feel more like Mary or Thomas, or somewhere in between? Take heart friends! Wherever we are, the Christ will do what it takes to get through to us.

In S&H 16, Mrs. Eddy explains that matter does not define our being. When we understand who we are spiritually, we don’t lose our identity, we actually become more alive to what we really are. Jesus proved that the apparent demise of the body had no effect at all on his true identity. To those who insist that the material concept is real, man will appear to be fleshly. “Inhere” means to be “fixed in something else.” Material sense is constantly affirming that our identity is fixed in the body, but it’s not. We have to give up the false sense (S&H 17). Jesus’ demonstration has moved the solid rock of material thinking out of our way. He showed us what man really is (S&H 18). He showed us the man that cannot be destroyed (S&H 19). Eventually Jesus overcame the flesh altogether. When he reached that point, he was no longer identified at all by physical parameters, and he could no longer be seen by the senses. At that point, his students received the Holy Ghost (S&H 20).

Section V: Our Commission, Empowered by the Holy Ghost
Now we have Jesus’ commission for the disciples to go out and continue the work. The fact that Jesus “came unto them” (B13) is thought to be Jesus’ way of resolving any doubt there may have been as to whether or not he had truly risen (Dummelow). Jesus’ claim of having “all power” indicated that he was fully aware of and in command of the realm of the real. The disciples had seen proof of this power first hand. The disciples’ next step was to prove it for themselves (B14). God can be fully understood through His son (B15). Jesus showed us what the real man was like. In doing so, he showed us what God was like. Once his mission was complete, he was no longer seen physically. But the Holy Ghost remained to support and guide us through all time.

Understanding God is equal to understanding reality. When we “see it” we “get it” and we can never be fooled again (S&H 21). Jesus showed us the real man. The unreal disappears in the presence of the real (S&H 22). Jesus overcame every aspect of the flesh. He “relinquished” the belief that matter had substance. When every aspect of a material ego had been quenched, the “eternal Ego” became the only reality (S&H 23). What Jesus did, he did for us (S&H 24). Are we willing to take what he gave us and do something with it? Aside from all his remarkable healings, his resurrection and ascension certainly proved he was correct in his estimate of what is real. Jesus’ disciples continued their work through the power of the Holy Ghost. Mrs. Eddy defines Holy Ghost as “divine Science.” So we too, have been given the commission, and the Holy Ghost to carry out that mission (S&H 25).

Section VI:  Make It Your Own
This section promises the fulfillment of the purpose of Jesus’ demonstration. He did it all for our benefit. We have hope in the “truth of the gospel” (B16). What our life really is cannot be hid forever (B17). It will be revealed. If the truth remains in us-if we are convinced of it and stick with it-we will experience the fruition of its promise of eternal life (B 18). We are encouraged to “stand fast,” and rejoice in Jesus’ proof of reality. Citation B19 gives us a list of things to focus our thought on. Watching what we think is no easy task. It seems like there is a constant stream of images and thoughts running through our heads. Most of the stuff going through our heads is just clutter that wanders through the mental atmosphere. Have you ever really taken control of your thought? Try stopping the continual flow of chatter and just be still. Then choose what you want to think about. If we can maintain control and focus only on the things of God-the things that are real-we will have accomplished a great deal.

Holding our thoughts to “the enduring, the good, and the true” we will bring these into our experience. Mrs. Eddy tells us to “fix” our gaze on the real. Then we will rise to spiritual consciousness (S&H 26). When we’re governed by reality instead of the sense testimony, we begin to see things as they really are (S&H 27). Having no other consciousness than what God is and what we are as His reflection is the way to heaven, the way to follow Jesus on his path out of the flesh (S&H 28). Once we have a grip on truth, everything else loses its hold on us (S&H 29). The reality of things is always harmonious. Keeping aligned with harmony, we necessarily attain the reality of things. Seeing reality, we get it!

Camp Director’s Note: The above sharing is the latest in a long series of CedarS Bible Lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms.* Originally sent JUST 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 and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson “mets” are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson in the books. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. 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 these 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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