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You’re One of the Royal Family!
Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on “Man” for Aug. 28-Sept. 3, 2006
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Bartlett, Illinois
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 (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp.
Can you imagine what it would be like to wake up one day to a messenger knocking at the door who is there to inform you that you are, in fact, the son or daughter of royalty? From that moment on, you would be able to enjoy the full rights and privileges of being heir to the throne and all the benefits that go with it. Of course there would be new responsibilities, too. Would you look at things differently than you did the day before? Might you be more aware of the way you walk and talk, and think about things a little more before plunging in? How might your plans change? What would you do about it? Well friends today is that day! The Golden Text contains the message, “we are the children of God.”
The Responsive Reading explains how this revelation has come to pass. Christ Jesus has revealed to us that we are spiritual descendants of Abraham. God gave his promise to Abraham. Through our faith in Christ we are heirs to that promise. Before Jesus came we were like young children who were heirs, but had no rights to them because we were under age and in the care of tutors. To Paul, the law of the Old Testament was like our tutor. But Jesus came to give us our full inheritance. According to the Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary of the Bible, he furnished “freedom from the self defeating struggle for status before God, from enslaving preoccupation with one’s own worthiness; and freedom for the full attainment of one’s true maturity as an heir of God’s promises.” The rest of the Lesson details some of the benefits and responsibilities that come with our inheritance.
SECTION I: In God’s Image
Upon receiving news of a great inheritance, most people would want some proof of it. How could this messenger be trusted? You might request to see a picture to look for some family resemblance. Or these days they might even furnish DNA evidence to prove the relation. The Spirit bears witness to our heritage; (B1) i.e. it causes “consciousness of the new and unique privilege of relation to God” (Interpreter’s). 1st John (B2) sets the record straight that this Spirit is true. Jesus presented to us the Christ, or the true idea of what man is. This was like a light shining in the darkness. Everyone who accepted this light was given the right and privilege to embrace their status as a child of God (B3). This revelation originates in Spirit not flesh. No human factor played a part in it. This light of truth has always existed. Isaiah urges us to walk in that light (B4) and turn away from the man of the flesh. From the very beginning, man was created in God’s image (B5). The word translated as “create” indicates that man was unique-unlike any other being and that he had something possessed by the Creator. “Man is thus the crown and supreme glory of the whole universe” (Abingdon’s Bible Commentary). Man is God’s image. He resembles his Maker in every way.
Christ Jesus expressed this true image. His life gave us the proof we need. His example lifted men far beyond what they thought they were (S2). The true image of God was perceived through Mary’s spiritual insight (S3). The fact of Jesus’ spiritual origin provides solid evidence that man is God’s offspring (S4). It is as tangible as any DNA evidence would be to a modern court. Man’s ancestry is traced to the “beautiful, good, and pure…” (S6). Man is not the result of any material condition or circumstance. Spirit is our source and our destination.
SECTION II: How’s a Son Supposed to Act?
So you’ve got proof of your inheritance. What do you do with it? Have a party? That’s what the prodigal did (B7). He wanted to use his inheritance for his own purposes. Symbolically, when he went to another country he was turning his back on the law of God. This behavior is like someone who thinks that since he is a child of God, he has a free pass to do all the goofy things he can think of. It’s really abusing and misunderstanding what being God’s child means. Do you know of anyone who abuses privileges because they think they are above the law? Eventually this path leads to trouble. The boy in the story wastes everything and ends up doing the worst job imaginable. He finely comes to himself. He decides he’ll go back home and become a servant. In those days, hired servants were usually poor relations who earned their keep doing menial tasks. They were still members of the family, but not on the same level as the children (Abingdon’s). When he came back home, the father ran to him and reinstated his full status as a son. His other brother wasn’t too thrilled about that. He didn’t want to have anything to do with his welcome-home party. But the father assured him that everything he had was always his. Can you identify with either of these sons? Have you ever struck out on your own (without God’s help) and found yourself in a pickle? Have you felt bad enough to turn back home to God? Or, have you ever resented someone who has repented and you thought they got off too easy?
We can’t find ourselves without God. We are not self-made (S8). We are the best stock, not the worst. If we try to live outside of God’s law, we’re going to be disappointed. Those hard experiences will make us turn back to God (S 9&10). Regardless of whether or not anyone sees it, all un-godlike behavior brings its share of suffering. We need to repent (turn around), be baptized (spiritually cleansed), and be regenerated (start over again). We need to get rid of the selfish way of thinking and living (S11). When we come to ourselves-when we admit that we are God’s likeness, we will be free to discover and demonstrate who we really are (S12).
SECTION III: Claiming the New Means Renouncing the Old
If you knew you were an heir, would you still let your former circumstances burden you? Of course not! You’d rejoice in your freedom. In the first citation (B10) the “daughter” referred to is being “admonished to forget her foreign origin and to devote herself to her new master…her permanent fame will rest, not with her pagan ancestry, but with her children who will occupy the Israelite throne for ever and ever” (Interpreter’s). This indicates that all ties of earthly ancestry be denounced in order to fully bond with our spiritual heritage. In the healing of the woman who was bowed together (B12) Jesus refers to her as a “daughter of Abraham.” This indicates her heritage as one of God’s faithful. The Christ still identifies us as God’s children. When we accept this heritage, we are claiming our freedom from the bondage of physical ills.
Jesus knew that the kingdom of God was within God’s children. Jesus saw all men as God’s image (S13). Jesus also referred to the sick as those “whom Satan hath bound” (S14). Holding on to a material origin, chains us to all the evils associated with a mortal man. Jesus released the woman from the claim that held her down. The Christ gives us freedom, too. Note that she didn’t clamor after a healing. She was just there, in his presence and he called her to him. In citations S15&16 look at how effortless healing appears. We need to “let” the kingdom of God already within us rule our lives. “Let” the male and female of God’s creating appear. Let us feel the energy and rejoice in the divine powers. God has not bound us to the burdens of material life. He has made us free from the beginning. We need to accept this liberty and be free (S17).
SECTION IV: How About a Banquet?
One of the most aggressive claims of a material man is the claim that food determines his health. Do you worry about what you eat? Do you count calories or cholesterol? Have you decided to stop eating red meat, white meat, or put any other restrictions on your diet? As joint-heirs with Christ, the Master tells us to “take no thought…what ye shall eat” (B13). “Eat such things as are set before you” (B14). Paul tells us, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (B15). The Psalms remind man that God has “put all things under his feet” (B16). Motive means something
here. Many people have restricted their diets from what they consider to be sound moral reasons. For instance, many object to the inhumane way some animals are bred and processed. But the content of one’s diet for whatever reason one might choose, does not indicate the level of one’s spirituality.
Science and Health points out that we need not fear food for any reason. It cannot hurt us, and it really cannot help us either. Our bodily health is not governed by the food we ingest. Citation S21 states, “…a dyspeptic was very far from being the image and likeness of God.” We can replace dyspeptic with carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, ascetic, glutton, gourmet, or gourmand. The point being, that the child of God is none of these. The child of God is sustained by God (S22). In one way, taking any particular stand on food, identifies one as a type of mortal. This is burdensome in itself. Rather than identifying yourself as any “type” of eater, identify yourself as the spiritual image and likeness of God and be free.
SECTION V: Largesse
One of the most notable and admired qualities of royalty is largesse. Liberal generosity was expected of royalty, and it kept them in good standing with their subjects. God (the King) is Love. As God’s children, and royal heirs, we too, have the obligation to reflect God’s love with visible acts of service to others (B17). God is the initiator of all that man does. God loved first, therefore, man loves. “Only the man who is spiritual, i.e. dominated by God’s self-revealing Spirit, by being actively receptive and obedient can comprehend God’s gifts” (B18) (Interpreter’s). Not only are God’s children known by their love for each other, but also, by their love for their enemies (B19). To be a son is to emulate the character of the father. Patterning our life after God is the goal. “To adopt this goal, however, is to reverse the ordinary pattern of human behavior, which is to love one’s friends and hate one’s enemies” (Ibid.). How well we demonstrate love for mankind depends on how much of the spirit we possess. We’re told to be perfect. This can seem pretty hard to live up to. Dummelow makes this phrase a little less intimidating. “The perfect man…was the man who had set his feet on the true path and was still advancing-‘going on unto perfection.'” So if we’ve started our journey and strive to stay on the path, we are doing what’s expected.
God is only seen in goodness. As His image, we have no choice but to be like Him. We must reflect love (S23). God’s children aren’t divided into many minds. They are all one with the Father (S26). How often do we find ourselves all in knots over what is going on in our individual lives? The majority of worries come from thinking that we are on our own against the rest of the world. We are inclined toward looking out for “number one.” In reality, God is the only number One. As His children, we naturally help others without thought of our own benefit. We seek our own in another’s good (S27). As we learned in the second section, God gives to all liberally and impartially. As we align ourselves with our true heritage, and demonstrate the divine largesse we will find that the most happiness we can receive is when we are reflecting God’s love and bringing blessings to others. This is exactly what counselors and workers feel at Cedars. They come back over and over because they feel the blessings that come with liberal giving. Try taking a block of time-an hour, a morning, or a whole day and just practice loving by giving to others without any thought of return benefit, and see how vibrant, alive, and free you feel.
SECTION VI: Come As You (Really) Are!
Our true heritage is found in spiritual blessings (B21). These blessings refer to “God’s eternal purpose…[they] emphasize both God’s initiative in establishing a relationship with men and the character of that relationship” (Interpreter’s). This true relationship is not found in material conditions, but in eternal realities of being. Just as we are all spiritual descendants of Abraham, our common “bloodline” of faith unifies us through the idea of church. The church isn’t the building we worship in, but rather, the community of believers of which we are a portion. “Christ’s body [the church] is built up as its members attain unity in Christ founded on common faith in him” (Ibid.). Now in any family, no two individuals are exactly alike. Each has special gifts and talents. This goes for church as well. “Christian unity is not to be confused with uniformity, for the members of Christ’s body have been variously endowed” (Ibid.). Have you ever felt like you didn’t want to go to church or Sunday School because you didn’t fit in? Or, that you had to look or act a certain way in order to be accepted? If so, you’re not alone. But these concerns are based on a human concept of church, not the divine. God’s grace is free to all. We should neither define others from a material standpoint nor ourselves. Your life-your true being-is “hid with Christ in God” (B23). It is “laid up in heaven, thus already accomplished” (Ibid.). It is for us to realize it.
Jesus gave us the “true idea of being” (S28). When this is manifested, we will see that we have always been God’s image. Human belief is slow to see what God’s creation really is (S 29). As we realize it-as we become fully aware of what true being is, we will find complete satisfaction and fulfillment (S30). Jesus was certainly the most unique and original individual to ever walk the earth. He encouraged us to find out what God made us to be. Believing that we are apart from God, thrashing out a meager existence is like being a beggar outside of the castle walls not realizing he is actually heir to the throne. Jesus showed us what our true heritage is. We are heirs to the kingdom, joint heirs with Christ. We need to live like it, think like it, and act like it. How can we do it right now even though it seems that we’re stuck outside the castle gates? These words from Abingdon state it well: “Meanwhile, we live most truly our own life when we refer everything to motives which are centered in Christ. For in the deepest sense he is our life.” So congratulations! You are royalty. Embrace it and make it your own. What wonders will you uncover as you live your life fully aware of your royal heritage? The world is waiting to find out.
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 citations referenced (i.e. B1and S28) from this week’s Bible Lesson in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30) 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 these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.)

Warren Huff, Director
CedarS Camps Office
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