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Learn At-one-ment - Live the Christ Inclusively

Kathy Fitzer, St. Louis, MO & Park City, UT
Posted Saturday, October 7th, 2006

Learn At-one-ment - Live the Christ Inclusively
Metaphysical Application Ideas for Christian Science Bible Lesson
Oct. 9-15, 2006
Subject: Doctrine of Atonement
Prepared by Kathy Fitzer, C.S. of St. Louis, MO

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.
 
Golden Text: In the midst of a seemingly broken world, the Psalmist identifies God as good; and as ready to forgive and have mercy on anyone that turns to God. The expectation is that all nations (all peoples) will eventually turn to God and glorify His name - acknowledge Him as the supreme good governing all. This demands that our prayers and our actions be inclusive, as we learn about at-one-ment.
 
Responsive Reading: As Christians, we have each been called to live as Christians. In order to demonstrate our unity with God and with one another, Paul begs the people to humbly, gently, and patiently work with each other and to make a real effort to maintain the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  Starting with the unity of Spirit - one Spirit, one God - that has created all, and is above all and one with all, we must act in a way that will promote peace and unity. God provides his gift of grace to each of us, although the gifts take various forms. Apostles and prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers present the good news of Christ, Truth, until everyone understands how to serve as part of the body of Christ (the manifestation of the oneness of God and man). As this oneness is demonstrated, we see evidence of the "maturity" of man (the perfect man), the "fullness of Christ." We can't be satisfied to leave peacemaking to someone else. We are all ONE as the manifestation of the one Mind. Accept whatever role is given you each day. Different situations make different demands on us. Accept the challenge.
 
Section I: Active vs. Passive Atonement
God reaches out and turns our hearts to Him. (B-1) It takes humility to yield up our own agendas and give up old views. In the Old Testament, a priest went into a material temple on a specific day to offer a material sacrifice to God. It was believed that this process was necessary to cleanse himself and his fellow sinners from their sins. (B-2) My question is always ... does a one-time "sacrifice" make a lasting difference in how someone acts? To me, it is like someone who knows they have done something wrong saying, "I'm sorry, I know I was bad, I promise to be better." But does anything change? Christ Jesus, realizing his own and our sinless nature sacrificed his (rather than some innocent animal's) mortal selfhood in order to show what true atonement is all about. Jesus' single great sacrifice promised eternal salvation. Jesus illustrated the activity of the Christ. His example of sacrifice included a demonstration of immortality. Recently I heard the idea expressed that, as Christian Scientists, we believe in Jesus' sacrificial atonement, but we do not subscribe to the concept of substitutional atonement, as many Christians do. In other words, we believe that Jesus "offered himself without spot to God" in order to "purge [our] conscience from dead works to serve the living God." (B-4) But something is required of us. We must serve God. Jesus' sacrifice didn't substitute for our sacrifice. Redemption is the key - becoming a "new creature." (B-3) We, too, must demonstrate an understanding of the "Christ, Truth as the healing and saving power." (S-4) We have to actively demonstrate our innocence and purity NOW - as Jesus did - by giving up false material beliefs in order to exemplify our unity with God. (S-1) Jesus taught us to live in accord with Christ - Truth. To truly worship God, we have to feel the energized nature of Spirit and a genuine spiritual devotion. (S-5)
 
Section II: Truer Sense of Love Unifies
Imagine what the disciples must have thought when they saw their master talking first of all to a Samaritan, with whom Jews didn't have dealings, and secondly a woman! But, Jesus had an important message to deliver - the message of at-one-ment. And the message wasn't simply directed to the woman. It was for all. The woman starts explaining the differences between Jews and Samaritans, including the fact that the two groups even worship in different places. How often are we tempted to magnify the differences, rather than what we have in common with someone. Jesus explains that worship has to do with the state of one's thought - we worship "in spirit and in truth." Like the Jews, this woman was expecting a Messiah - a savior, or Christ. Unlike the Jews, she was open to recognizing the Christ through spiritual sense. She went and told her friends that Jesus must be the Christ because he knew her, even though he didn't know her personally. How marvelous that so many of the men of town believed this woman before they had even met Jesus. Others believed once they heard him for themselves. (B-5) What was it that Jesus was really communicating? Wasn't it Love? A part that isn't included from this story is where Jesus perceives that the woman is living with a man to whom she isn't married. But, he doesn't judge her - he just states the fact. He leaves the correction to the activity of Love. (S-6) Notice in marker 7 of Science and Health all that infinite God, good, does. Now, if atonement is all about actively practicing our at-one-ment with God, then we have to practice loving our neighbor! (S-8) We should always be asking ourselves ... am I making progress? Am I getting better - at whatever I'm doing? And here we learn how to measure our progress ... is Truth overcoming "error in your daily walk and conversation"? (S-9) Are we going out on a limb like Jesus did, talking to people who aren't in our "circle"? Are we seeing EVERYONE as worthy and as having potential? Are we pre-judging, or letting God judge? Are we accepting a long-time (or short-time) physical problem, or overcoming it with Truth? We ALL coexist with God and so we ALL reflect the infinite Father-Mother God. (S-10) Let's accept that as true for ALL!
 
Section III: Inclusive Mission of Christ Is Our Mission, Too
In healing the centurion's servant, Jesus once again demonstrates his inclusive nature. (B-7) Clearly he understood the sentiment expressed by Malachi that God is the creator and father of ALL people and nations. (S-6) This is a great illustration of the impersonal nature of the Christ, Truth. Not only did Jesus have no physical contact with either the centurion or the servant (no touching), he never even spoke to either of them. But the authority of the Christ instantly healed in response to the centurion's faith in that authority. Are we as confident in the authority of the Christ expressed in each Christian Science treatment that we either give or receive? Jesus was all about demonstrating man's oneness with God. He didn't just tell people he was the Messiah and expect them to accept it.  He acted out his relation to God by healing. (S-13) I was interested in Mrs. Eddy reference to Jesus' mission as "both individual and collective." (S-11) Jesus didn't heal just to show off his own virtue, his conformity to divine law. He healed to show us how to do the same. Isn't part of the mercy (the compassion) he showed seen in the fact that his atonement wasn't "substitutional"? In other words, we get to demonstrate our at-one-ment, too. We get to act boldly "against the accredited evidence of the senses," - against what the body and physical senses say is true - and against the Pharisaical creeds of modern medicine or popular culture that would either say there is no reason to pray because modern medicine or psychology has the cure OR that some things just can't be cured or changed. Having the Mind of Christ, we can be conscious only of what God is conscious of. (S-12) And that means there is no competition for good. It is not for some, but not for others. There is no such thing as not being "good enough" to be healed. And there's really not even such thing as needing to find a certain group of friends to be part of in order to be happy. We're all one with God, so we are all complete and well. That's what Christ Jesus came to teach us.
 
Section IV: So Why Was Jesus Crucified?
Ever feel persecuted for taking a stand as a Christian Scientist? Look at what happened to Jesus. Isn't it typical of falsity to not be able to get its story straight - to send conflicting reports - but still be believed? Jesus told the truth - He confessed to being the Christ. And for that, he was crucified. (B-8) He could have hedged to make his answer fit more closely with what people wanted to hear, but Christ is Truth! Are we as readily willing to come right out and identify ourselves as Christian Scientists? Or are we afraid of the consequences (I might not be accepted by others; or, they might ask me things that I don't know how to answer; you fill in the blank). Isn't our hesitancy to identify with the Christ similar to the response of the false witnesses, and even Jesus' disciples' refusal to believe that Jesus was risen? In every case it is misunderstanding the power of the Christ. When Jesus came to his disciples and showed them first hand that he was alive, he gave clear instructions that they were to go share the good news of the eternal, living Christ with the world. (B-10) And that's where we, as Christian Scientists come in. As the fourth tenet expresses, we accept that the crucifixion took place in order for Love to show man's unity with God, and so that we can all understand how Christ, Truth, saves man from sin, sickness, and death. (S-14) There's no way that God - Love - could be responsible for suffering. So, isn't it possible that that is one of the lessons to be learned from the atonement? That what appears to the mortal senses as suffering is indeed a misperception that Truth (Christ) destroys? (S-15) Jesus' tomb experience gave him the "opportunity" to demonstrate Mind (God) over matter and to overcome not only death, but the lesser claims of infection, dehydration, and whatever else material medica would call law. (S-16) The stone has been rolled away. It has been demonstrated that the Christ can't be entombed. (S-17) What does that mean for us? That there are no limits!!! Be willing to be "put on the cross." Be willing to put yourself out there, even if it means that you may be "persecuted" for expressing your Christly nature. Then call on that Christly nature - your at-one-ment" with God to liberate you!
 
Section V: Popularity, Division and Cliques or Christly Affection?
Peter thought he knew what "group" he belonged in. Even though he had witnessed Jesus healing the servant of the centurion, he didn't think that was the same as actually being "friends" with one of another nation (a different group.) After all, that's just not how things were done. Jews stuck with Jews. Be sure and read the verses that are left out of this story (v. 9-20). God spoke to Peter in a way that he could understand to help him see that there is no such thing as "unclean" food or people in God's eyes. (B-11) The Psalmist presents a wonderful definition of a friend as anyone who fears (respects) and trusts the Lord and obeys him. (B-12, The Living Bible)  Following that criteria would eliminate feeling the pressure to "fit in" with a particular group. God places us where we need to be, in order to bless and be blessed. Peter learned that regardless of nationality, he and Cornelius were of one Mind. This is true for ALL. And the more clearly we identify EVERYONE as having the Mind of Christ we can expect to see the end of war and terrorism in all its forms. (S-18) This extends to those terrorized by the hurt of not feeling accepted by a peer group to the warring of religious factions to those who kill innocent children because of an experience in their past. Seldom are we able to convince others to change, and compromise with wrong isn't the answer. Leaving "all for Christ" is usually a hard stand to take because society would say it just doesn't work. (S-19) But, doesn't leaving all for Christ involve refusing to take anything at face value? Doesn't it mean digging beneath the surface to see the man of God's creating - to see all as complete, including ourselves? Mrs. Eddy says to "let worth be judged according to wisdom" in order to "get better views of humanity. " (S-20) In other words, see the harmony that God, the all-knowing good, sees. Refuse to label - draw no lines according to politics, social groupings, religions, race, or even age or health. Entertain no lines of division. Look for some evidence of good in everyone you meet or hear about on the news, and companion with that idea of good. And then recognize that each and every one is superior to the sin, sickness, and death that seems to be asserting itself, because God made us superior to it. (See S&H 231) That's the at-one-ment of Christ. We have to keep the goal of peace and harmony constantly before our gaze. We have to strive to achieve more of it each day by companioning with the good - the Christliness - that is present, and must be recognized in everyone. As we strive to unite with the good in each and every one, the belief of division will be healed.
 
Section VI: You've Got It - Go With It!
We know the Christ. We've seen the light. We are fellow-citizens with the workers that have gone before us. Now, we've got to walk in the light and act according to the atonement, the at-one-ment, that we have received. (B 13-15) It is, indeed, through the life of Jesus Christ that we get to know God (are reconciled to God), not through his death. (B-15) The crucifixion was just our wake-up call - the final demonstration of all that Jesus was sent to teach us of man's oneness with Life. If we weren't sure just what the Christ was before we got to this section, it gets spelled out here. Christ is the way (to the Father). Christ is the truth, and the life. (S-22, based on John14:6) The Christ (I) and the Father are one. (S-22, based on John 10:30) Jesus was crucified because he not only claimed to be the Messiah, but he acted out that claim. The Scientific explanation of the atonement (the at-one-ment of God and man) unites all Christians and Jews. The disagreement has come primarily from not understanding what it means to be one with God. We don't think a drop of water IS the ocean, but it is certainly one with it. A ray of light isn't the sun, but it certainly is one with the sun. Man is the shine of God, just like a ray of light is the shine of the sun. And so man is one with God - inseparable. Jesus' mission was to be the ultimate example of this oneness. The Christ is eternal. Christ is the nature of man - one with God. (S-23)   Here's the question ... are we willing to accept the challenge to "walk in the light of the Lord" - the light of the Christ which Jesus so perfectly showed us? (B-13) It doesn't mean that the road we'll walk will necessarily be a smooth one, but by following the light - acknowledging our at-one-ment and being obedient to the inclusive nature of Love, we will be able to navigate safely! Neither sin, sickness, nor the threat of death will be able to throw us off course for long - because we've got the light to show us the way!

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.)

 

Enjoy!
Warren Huff, Director        director@cedarscamps.org

 

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