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Multiply by the infinity of Spirit, not by the zero of matter -- Lesson Application Ideas on "Spirit"

Julie Ward, C.S.B.
Posted Monday, January 30th, 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.

Multiply by the infinity of Spirit, not by the zero of matter 
Lesson Application Ideas for "Spirit" (Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson for February 5, 2006)
by Julie Ward, C.S., Westwood, Massachusetts

GOLDEN TEXT - Look for the many ways that this promise is expressed throughout the lesson. Because Spirit is infinite, its blessings continually multiply. Think of it as a math problem. When you multiply a blessing by infinity, you get infinite blessing - nothing less. And don't forget that precious opening word: SURELY. There is nothing partial or conditional about God's blessing. It's always sure and steady.

RESPONSIVE READING - Joel was writing about the restoration of Israel after a devastating locust plague. "In the Bible, the locust represents powerful and large enemy armies completely destroying the earnings of man's toil." (The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Volume 3, page 146) Locusts were generally insects, such as katydids and large grasshoppers. These were "capable... of multiplying in appalling masses, of wandering into distant lands, and of causing frightful destruction of cultivated vegetation." (IDB Vol. 3, page 144) As you can see, this is the false sense of multiplication, the belief that one problem builds upon another, consuming our time, our thought, even our ability to love. This is multiplication by zero, so the result must be zero.

Whether our "locust plague" seems worldwide or intensely personal, it can't destroy the indestructible ideas of Spirit. What is destroyed is the false concept. So what is left? God's promise: "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." Peter quoted this verse from Joel on the day of Pentecost, and there was a great multiplication of converts to Christianity. It's interesting to see that the Spirit is poured out on all kinds of people - young and old, men and women, servants and handmaids. The Spirit is "no respecter of persons." The promise is that "WHOSOEVER shall call upon the Lord shall be delivered." (Joel 2:32) And where are they delivered? In Mt. Zion and in Jerusalem. Take a peek ahead to the first section and plug in the definitions of Zion and Jerusalem here. In fact, you might want to keep close to the Glossary in Science and Health as you read this lesson, with special attention to these definitions: Zion, Jerusalem, New Jerusalem, Children of Israel, Judah. Remember that these are not just places or people, but states of consciousness.

And the Responsive Reading introduces another important concept that you'll find throughout the lesson: the remnant. This word goes back to a Hebrew root that means "escape, survive, remain." (Key Word Study Bible) The IDB defines the remnant as "The portion of a community which is left, in the case of a devastating calamity; the portion upon which the possible future existence of the community depends." The remnant is the state of consciousness that calls upon the name of the Lord and is saved - no matter how great the calamity may seem. Are you and I a part of the remnant?

SECTION I - At home in Jerusalem
This section of the Bible is filled with wonderful promises about Zion and Jerusalem. I've sometimes wondered why there seems to be so much strife in that part of the world. Perhaps it's because we have thought that these are places and peoples rather than divine ideas. When we begin to see them as divine ideas, we realize that they belong to everyone. For instance, in (B1), there is a promise that "the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it." If this "top mountain" were a place, the nations would have to flow uphill, against the law of gravity. But if that mountain is an exalted thought, then the attraction of Spirit would always be pulling us upward.

Along the same lines, when we say that "every valley shall be exalted" (B3, we might be referring to those valleys of depression, discouragement, unworthiness, shame. The mountains and hills that are made low might be our beliefs that we have great big insurmountable problems - or even just mountains of work to get through. The crooked places might be deceptions, or they might be the helpless feelings that we have when we think that our problems are just too entangled and complicated for us to even begin to heal them. Spirit straightens them right out, and shows us the path of progress, the way that has no detours. And those rough places!!! Those beliefs that we are irritated, angry, unrefined. The gentle Christ takes away the friction and reveals the smooth, calm idea of God that is neither irritated nor irritable. Think about what these descriptions mean to you in your present experience, and then claim the promise that goes with them. "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." No one is left out of this promise. When we try to tell people about the glory of the Lord, they may or may not accept it, but when "the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it," no one can refuse it.

Speaking of the understanding which Spirit imparts, Mrs. Eddy writes, "This understanding is not intellectual, is not the result of scholarly attainments; it is the reality of all things brought to light." (S&H 2) Isn't it important for us to turn away from the belief that Christian Science is a "scholarly attainment"? Many of us have seen examples of healings by little children. This wasn't the result of what they read, but of what they KNEW. Their humility and innocence equipped them to accept what God was telling them without resistance. We can do that, too.

"Man walks in the direction towards which he looks, and where his treasure is, there will his heart be also." (S&H 6) Let's take the opportunity this week to ask ourselves often, "Where is my treasure? What is the direction that I'm walking in? Have I been duped into taking a detour?"

SECTION II - Multiplying - manifesting His power
Where do you go when you seem to have hit bottom? In (B5) there is a description that's all too familiar to most of us: ""The enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground." The interesting thing about this is that the Psalmist doesn't waste time in self-pity, self-condemnation, or self-justification. He asks to be more aware of God's lovingkindness. He asks God to show him how to proceed. Most of all, he prays, "Teach me to do thy will." Is that what we do when we're at the end of our rope?

Isaiah prophesies that the house of Judah will be persecuted, and that "the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean." (B7) But even here there is a remnant. "Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree...." The Interpreter's Bible translates this verse, "Gleanings will be left in it, as when an olive tree is beaten." Only a few olives can be the beginning of a whole new crop. Just a note of interest - the name "Gethsemane" means "oil vat." In this olive grove, the precious oil was extracted by "treading, pounding, pressing, or grinding." (IDB, Volume 2 page 387) Sounds pretty rough, doesn't it? Think of this as you read the definitions of "Gethsemane" and "Oil" in the Glossary of Science and Health.  In Gethsemane, Jesus completely surrendered his own will, his own human desires, and said, "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42) This passage from Isaiah (B7) echoes the earlier Psalm, in that the salvation comes in looking to God. "At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect unto the Holy One of Israel."

Here's another important point about the remnant: as it takes its roots downward, it bears fruit upward. (B8) The deeper the roots of our spiritual understanding, the more abundant fruit we'll bring forth. Do we want more healing in our movement? Then let's dig deeper! God will multiply the blessings. "Divine Love blesses its own ideas, and causes them to multiply, - to manifest His power." (S&H 8)  Multiplication, then, is not about more stuff, more riches, more children, more members. It's the manifestation of God's power, which is limitless.

What do we do if it seems that this multiplication comes at a price? Sometimes progress can look a lot like chaos. Mrs. Eddy writes, "The breaking up of material beliefs may SEEM to be famine and pestilence, want and woe, sin, sickness, and death, which assume new phases UNTIL THEIR NOTHINGNESS APPEARS." (S&H 9) Take heart! The only thing that is breaking up - the only thing that can break up - is the material belief. As its nothingness appears, we see more of the omnipotence of God. Our job is to be obedient, (S&H 10) and (S&H 11), to feel that "divine energy of Spirit" and to "rise in the strength of Spirit," - to rest in His irresistible power.

SECTION III - Feeding the multitude
When the multitudes came to Jesus to be healed, he didn't have to divide them into groups and say, "I'll take the lepers first, then the blind folks...." He didn't have to divide them up into chronic or acute cases, or physical versus mental claims. He knew the one great Truth that would heal them all. He knew that there was only one kind of man and that one was spiritual, perfect, whole. Just so, when he realized that they needed to be fed, he didn't say, "Oh, no!!! Now I have to FEED them!" He said, "I have compassion on the multitude."(B 12) He didn't see their huge need, but he saw the depth and breadth of that compassion. He made a stand: "I will not send them away fasting." Can we make that stand? Not only would that cure world hunger, but it would bring us right in line with the Beatitude, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." (Matt. 5:6) What would happen if, before every church service, lecture, Sunday School class, we claimed his promise, "I will not send them away fasting"?

The disciples were afraid that there wasn't enough to go around. They started with a finite amount of bread and fish, and then tried to divide it. On the other hand, Jesus started with infinite compassion, and multiplied it. So the feeding of the four thousand wasn't about setting aside a material law temporarily, It was the recognition that the spiritual law was ever present and ever available.

I hope you'll seriously consider the questions in (S&H 13). Does matter create itself?

"Spirit blesses the multiplication of its own pure and perfect ideas." (S&H 14) You can bring this promise to whatever is multiplying in your life - your growth, your healing, your unselfishness, your love. And because these pure and perfect ideas multiply instead of divide, you can rest assured that there is no competition between God's ideas. "...Whatever blesses one, blesses all..." (S&H 15) If you start with finiteness, that seems impossible, but if you start with infinity, it's inevitable.

SECTION IV - Meeting every need
"My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (B16) Notice the words "all" and "every" in this section. God pours out His infinite ideas impartially and universally. No one lives outside of His kingdom.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom heaven." (B14) This is the first Beatitude, and many think of it as the great headline of the Beatitudes. Why do you think it comes first? The Message (Eugene Peterson) says it this way: "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule." That phrase "less of you" reminds me of Mis. 185:7. As the material sense of self diminishes, we open "the very flood-gates of heaven." The weight of our thought can't be thrown in two directions. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon.": (B15) There's a choice to make.

Starting with finiteness, we ask all the wrong questions - "What shall we eat? What shall we drink? Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" We're always heading off lack. But if we start with the right premise - infinite blessings - we'll ask the right question. "Spiritual causation is the one question to be considered, for more than all others spiritual causation relates to human progress." (S&H 17) If you have a question that you just can't seem to answer, put it on a shelf and consider spiritual causation. Before you know it, you'll find that you have a correct answer. So here's a question to answer based on spiritual causation. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Spirit names and blesses all." (S&H 19) What has Spirit named you?

SECTION V - Multiplying (manifesting His power) by healing
Isaiah wrote, "The spirit of God is upon me..." (B17) This same Spirit anoints and appoints us to do all the things in this passage, the things that Christ Jesus did so completely. Here's your to-do list as The Message interprets it:

"He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heart-broken
Announce freedom to all captives,
Pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of His grace - A celebration of God's destruction of our enemies -
And to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
Give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
A praising heart instead of a languid spirit,
Rename them 'Oaks of Righteousness' Planted by God to display His glory."

"Oaks of Righteousness" stand up straight and tall. They are not bowed down with the spirit of heaviness. Jesus demonstrated this when he healed the woman who "was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself." (B19) She couldn't lift up herself, but God could lift her up, and He did. When Jesus said, "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity," he was simply stating a present fact. He didn't approach the case from the standpoint of anatomy or theology. These start from the "basis of division and discord." (S&H 23) This is like the disciples starting with division in their attempt to feed the multitudes. Jesus started with oneness, so there was no pushing or pulling, no stress or strain on any of God's ideas.

As you study (S&H 25), ask yourself these questions, "Do I have more faith in the truth of being than I have in error? Do I have more faith in Spirit than I have in matter? Do I have more faith in living than in dying? Do I have more faith in God than in man?" Don't worry if you're not happy with all of your answers. Just keep shifting the mental weight in the right direction, and we'll find inevitably that "no material suppositions can prevent us from healing the sick and destroying error."

SECTION VI - Welcome to the City of God!
Circle back to the definitions of Zion and Jerusalem before you read this section. You might also want to look back at the Responsive Reading, especially its similarities to Zechariah's prophecy (B21). Again, old and young are brought together in the covenant promise, "They shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness."

This opens right up to the vision of New Jerusalem, the holy city. Be sure to notice the definition of New Jerusalem (S&H 28). "The gates of it shall not be shut at all by day, for there shall be no night there." (B22)  Not a speck of ignorance, fear, or doubt - nothing that is covered or mysterious. The "tree of life" is there in place of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (the limited view that divides because it believes good to be finite). This tree of life is consistently fruitful. Its leaves are "for the healing of nations." (B23)  They are always fresh and new. "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.'" We have a standing invitation from Spirit. Will we accept?

Sometimes this vision seems a little overwhelming, but Mrs. Eddy reminds us that "divine Mind is its own interpreter." Mortal mind can't comprehend it, because it starts with division (light or dark, within or without, friend or enemy, old or young). But Mind is one, and Mind reveals itself.  We are already include this city. "The kingdom of God 'is within you,' - is within reach of man's consciousness here, and the spiritual idea reveals it." (S&H 29)  We're living in this city now.  And the Spirit is saying to each of us, "Welcome home, my dear one!" 

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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