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Love-It's the Real Thing

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

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 Christian Science 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. 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.

Love-It's the Real Thing
Lesson application ideas for: LoveJanuary 23-29, 2006
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S.Bartlett, Illinois

In The Interpreter''s One Volume Commentary on the Bible, it states that, "Christian belief and Christian life are inseparably linked. As a man believes, so he lives. As a man lives, so is his real belief." This sentiment calls upon Christians to be honest about their beliefs and to practice them. Love should be the "calling card" of the Christian. It permeated every act of the Master, Christ Jesus and our Leader calls it "the heart and Soul of Christian Science."

Golden Text
The Abingdon Bible Commentary expounds on I John 4 this way: "God is love-has made his love known to man through his Son-awakening man''s echoing response-demonstrated in visible acts of service to others. In these acts religion culminates, and if such acts do not appear, the whole structure is futile." That''s quite a powerful statement and one that bears direct relevance to this Lesson. Much of what this Lesson urges us to do seems counter-intuitive to the human thought. The usual course of the human mind is to say, "What''s in it for me?" But this lesson points out that love demands us to live unselfishly and with more concern for other''s welfare than for our own. It also calls for us to remember that no matter what else we do, love is the only thing that makes our Christianity real.

Responsive Reading
In Paul''s famous discourse on "charity" or love, he is "rebuking the arrogant and self-important persons in the church who are behaving so shamefully toward others" (Interpreter''s). Arrogance and self-importance really have no place in a loving heart. Many might have various "gifts" in the church. But no matter how well they speak, or how much they know, or how much faith they might have, without love, it''s nothing. The human mind is inclined to either make one''s self look good, or to make someone else look bad. Love corrects that tendency. As an example, the phrase "beareth all things" may mean "love is prone to keep confidential the faults or mistakes of others, not wishing to make a public issue of them" (Ibid.). We sometimes hear the excuse that exposing someone''s faults is a loving thing to do. Paul didn''t see it that way. It doesn''t mean that we allow evil to go unchecked, but we should focus on good and encourage repentance patiently.

SECTION I: You Are Precious
God regards His people as "precious in [His] sight" (B1). Strong''s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines precious as valuable, rare, to be prized. In The Lord of the Rings, Gollum calls the ring of power his "Precious." Although his love for the ring was twisted by greed, he still went to any length to possess it. Imagine God''s love for His creation. It makes Gollum''s fervency look like nothing. God is omnipotent good. His love is unbounded. He would never lose track of us or have to scurry to find us again. We are always safe in His care. In Ezekiel (B2) God is represented as assuming the role of Shepherd of the flock. The pre-exilic rulers of Judah weren''t guiding the people as they should. They were more like Gollum-using the people for their own profit and neglecting their duties (Abingdon). God won''t leave us out in the cold or "hang us out to dry." He promises to protect His people and restore them to the Promised Land. Not man''s depravity, but God''s steadfast love rules the universe. In God''s care we are completely satisfied (B4).

Human thought is insufficient to meet its needs. But divine Love meets them all (S1). God''s love is "impartial and universal (S2). The starting point of Science is that God is Love. Everything good and productive comes from God, nowhere else (S3). The more we understand the divine nature of God, the more spiritual our view of Him will be (S5). When we have a spiritual understanding of Love, we will no longer need to fret or worry about our needs being met. We will know without reservation that God gives to all equally and liberally (S6).

SECTION II: Love Reaches Humanity
In trying to describe the magnitude of God''s love for us, the New Testament writers appeal to the strongest type of love known to us-the love of our children. Can you imagine giving up your only son? God loved the world that much (B5). Jesus exemplified that love. He didn''t pick and choose. He loved everyone. This section gives another example of love''s challenge to human standards. To the Jews, eating with someone was "considered to be a most intimate kind of personal contact" (Interpreter''s). Tax collectors were considered "ceremonially unclean". Eating with tax collectors and people like them was a real taboo (B6). Human reasoning would avoid such things and say that it''s best to eat with those you knew were safe. Jesus did more than eat with them. He loved them and healed them. Have you ever been tempted to discriminate against someone you deemed "unclean" by withholding the truth, even though you new it might help him or her? Jesus put the spirit of the law before the letter. Jesus considered the multitudes'' condition to be like "a flock...harried by dogs and wolves" without a protector (Abingdon). Jesus was ready to assume that role and asked for his followers to help.

Jesus showed us the way (S7,8). Through his actions he "defined Love." Being so far from the natural trend of human thought, he was not recognized for his contributions. Are we willing to accept the call to be a laborer and follow his example? Faith isn''t enough. We have to "do likewise" (S9). Mrs. Eddy says, "The divinity of the Christ, was made manifest in the humanity of Jesus." Some definitions of humanity are kindness, benevolence, especially to relieve persons in distress, and to treat with tenderness those who are helpless and defenseless..." (Student''s Reference Dictionary). Expressing true humanity is hard work but God enables us to do it (S10). It is a step toward healing and is based on Love.

SECTION III: Patience...Patience!
Patience is an aspect of practicing love that most of us could use more of. Usually, when we''re impatient it is because we have an overabundance of concern for our own situation without thinking of other''s needs. For example, when we''re in a long checkout line or a traffic jam, we are primarily concerned with our own schedule. The scriptures were written to give us hope through learning patience and comfort (B8). Patience is a Christlike quality. The first two introductory verses of Matthew 5 (B9) are often considered as "throw-aways" but they do have spiritual significance. Jesus may or may not actually have been on a mountain, but he did elevate his thinking and posture above the human scene. It''s also interesting that Jesus sat down to teach them. Dummelow notes that "In the early church the preacher sat, and the congregation (including the emperor) stood." Talk about having to practice patience!

All the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount go against the grain of worldly thought. The precepts Jesus taught took the civil and moral law to a higher level. These are just a few examples. Jesus forbade retaliation. Being struck on the "right cheek" usually meant that you were hit with the back of the hand. This was highly insulting (Abingdon). So to offer the other cheek really took some inner strength. The part about being sued for your shirt and offering your cloak in court would have made your adversary "utterly embarrassed" so it''s not as wimpy as it sounds. And going two miles when compelled to go one, relates to the need for Christians to "pay their taxes and undertake other public burdens cheerfully and willingly" (Dummelow). To love your enemies is not just to show brotherly love, but to love them with the "Christian love that comes by grace" (Ibid.). Paul expected that all the trials we might face would teach us patience, experience, and hope (B11). Our Leader''s words continue making the same point. Earlier, the human needs were mentioned as always being supplied. In citation (S11) we are told that what we most need is "growth in grace." Many are familiar with Strong''s definition of grace-"the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life." Grace is expressed in "patience, meekness, love and good deeds." Self-love (the worldly way) does not help anyone. Through patient obedience to God, love dissolves selfish tendencies (S12). As Jesus taught overcoming evil with good, Mrs. Eddy tells us the way to "extract error" is to "pour in truth through flood-tides of love" (S13). Given the flooding events of the last couple of years, we should have a pretty good idea of how powerful a flood-tide can be. It completely alters the landscape. A flood of love is an awesome image. Mrs. Eddy reminds us to judge righteously (S14). This hearkens back to Paul''s discourse on love that avoids pointing out other''s faults. No matter how one might try, human hate cannot be justified (S15). Love is the only way. Our patient waiting on Love will ultimately pay off. Love does it all from beginning to end.

SECTION IV: The Genuine Article
Having too high an opinion of yourself, no matter how righteous you are, often leads to having less than favorable opinions about others. Jesus cautions us to "judge not" (B12). The story of the woman washing Jesus'' feet with her tears (B13) shows Jesus'' compassion and illustrates differing degrees of gratitude. Concerning the woman in the story, Dummelow writes "To appreciate this act we must remember that it was one of the greatest humiliations for a woman to be seen with her hair disheveled." She was really laying it all on the line. Simon barely showed common courtesy to Jesus. Even if he had anointed Jesus'' head with oil, the oil would have been cheap compared to the ointment the woman used on his feet. The question Jesus put to Simon was a rebuke to his doubt of Jesus'' status as a prophet. Not only did Jesus know the woman''s background, he also knew what Simon was thinking. All of the qualities mentioned in Colossians (B14) stress virtues which have "direct social value" (Abingdon). Love is the bond that holds Christians together. The word Paul used for love was practically unknown to pre-biblical pagan Greece. It is "presented as the principle of perfection in the moral world" (Ibid.).

Jesus showed the world what love really meant (S16). Mrs. Eddy recounts the story pointing out the differing responses to Jesus'' expression of love (S17). She asks if we seek truth like Simon did, through conservatism and for personal homage? Or like the woman, out of deep humility and repentance? Those are good questions to ask. Do we seek truth to look good, or because we love it? Only if we love it, will our efforts be genuine.

SECTION V: Love Heals
The healing of the leper (B15) shows the power of love. In some early translations, the phrase, "moved with compassion" read, "moved with anger" (Interpreter''s). Perhaps this implies that Jesus was angered by the way this poor man was treated. Lepers were untouchables. "No less a distance than 4 cubits (6 ft.) had to be kept from the leper, or if the wind came from that direction, 100 cubits were scarcely sufficient" (Dummelow). Jesus showed great compassion by touching someone who probably hadn''t been touched for a very long time. He also showed love to be superior to human codes. Not only did Jesus heal the man, he assumed the role of the priest and pronounced him "clean." Jesus took a big risk socially and physically by touching someone considered unclean. Would you be willing to take a risk like that? Or would you let social standards dictate whom you should and shouldn''t associate with. The comfort and courage God gives enable us to comfort and encourage others (B16). We can''t legitimately keep it to ourselves. It needs to be shared.

Mrs. Eddy reminds us that we are expected to follow in Jesus'' footsteps (S19). Once again, unselfed love is shown to be a healing force. This power is unstoppable. It releases sufferers from the hold of sin, disease, and even death (S20). She promises that if we reach our patients through love, we can heal instantly (21). This is a great promise, but it requires some work on our part. It implies that our healing work is only as good as our capacity to love. It''s a humbling statement. We all could do better at both loving and healing. Notice too, that the "rightful nutriment" required by the sufferer, or their "human need," is peace, patience, and an awareness of God''s loving-kindness. Knowing God''s love eliminates fear (S22). To maintain means: "to hold, to preserve, ...to support, to sustain, ...to keep, not to lose or surrender" (SRD). If we "maintain the facts of Science" we are told we will win (S23). Our willingness to love should be equal or desire to win.

SECTION VI: The Only Way to Do It Is to Do It!
Jesus calls himself "the door" to the sheepfold (B17). The whole speech refers to Ezekiel 34 from Section 1. It was directed toward the Sadducees and was given as the feast celebrating purification of the temple was getting started (Interpreter''s). The passage from Ezekiel was one of the lessons that would be given in the temple during the feast. It emphasizes the love of the true shepherd. Jesus calls for his followers to glorify God by bringing forth fruits of healing (B18). He sums up his commandments as the demonstration of perfect self-forgetful love toward one another. He commands his followers to follow his example and do it freely (B19). We can''t just talk about love we have to practice it (B20). The early pagan view of Christians was that they stirred up "hatred against the human race" (Ibid.). But the Christians belonged to a different world. Proof of their transformation was to be shown in their love. This love, notes Abingdon, "is the effect not the cause of salvation-for love and life are the same thing and both are from Christ." We cannot love God without loving man. Our love for man shows the presence of our love for God (B21). It all comes back to where we started-Christian belief and life are inseparable.

Mrs., Eddy tells us that our devotion is measured by our adherence to the commandment of love (S24). It seems repetitive, but Mrs. Eddy really presses the point home. Talk is not demonstration (S 25,26). Some might feel that if they know the rules and memorize spiritual statements, that they are demonstrating Christian Science. But the words don''t do it. Words don''t heal. Love heals. Mrs. Eddy didn''t envision a bunch of clones repeating speeches and "acting the part" of a healer. She expected vibrant love expressed in infinite ways through heartfelt healing. She yearned for the day to come when healing would be the result of loving our neighbor (S27). When the healing power of Love is fully recognized, nothing will be able to stop it. She calls love the "vital part" of Christian Science (S28). Vital means: "necessary to life; that on which life depends..." (SRD). The life of Christian Science depends on the honest demonstration of love expressed through healing. It doesn''t care for just one''s friends. It includes everyone, even those perceived to be enemies. Love is the only proof there is, that we have "the real thing."

Resources:
The reference books used in this met were:

Student's Reference Dictionary (SRD)

The Abingdon Bible Commentary (Abingdon)

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

Manual of Discipline
of the Qumran community.  (1QS)

The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible (Interpreter's)

 Webster's Dictionary 1828

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.) Enjoy!

Warren Huff, Director             director@cedarscamps.org
The CedarS Camps Office
1314 Parkview Valley
Manchester, MO 63011
(636) 394-6162

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