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Will you admit that you really are God's own likeness? Notes on "Man" (Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson for March 5, 2006)

Julie Ward, C.S.B.
Posted Monday, February 27th, 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 (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.
Will you admit that you really are God's own likeness?
Application Ideas for the Bible Lesson on "Man" (Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson for March 5, 2006)
by Julie Ward, C.S., Westwood, Massachusetts.

GOLDEN TEXT - God's face shines upon you in approval and delight, and you reflect that pure shining. His love pours out to you in a million different ways. Be alert this week to every sign of God's grace to man.

RESPONSIVE READING - Notice the repetition of the command, "Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee." This is man's job description, and it's the mission for every man - not just those who consider themselves blessed at this moment. Let ALL the people praise thee! We can be glad that His blessings pour out upon us all.

SECTION I - Man is God's witness, His reflection.
The opening citation (B1) is a promise on which the rest of the lesson stands. The New English Bible translates it, "I have dearly loved you from of old, and still I maintain my unfailing care for you." God is ever with us. He draws us together as one family, dedicated to one mission. We are His witnesses. We show forth His praise. In return, God blesses us, keeps us, delights in us, and pours out His blessings upon us. He gives us peace. He promises, "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day." (B 4) We can't help but shine.

The reflection has no choice but to be like the original. Man has no choice but to be just like God, "the central light of being." (S&H 1) As you read the lesson, keep a little list of the things that man reflects. For instance, man reflects the central light of being; he reflects goodness and power; he reflects perfection; he reflects all that belongs to his Maker! Mrs. Eddy beautifully presents the idea of reflection in (S&H 2). It's good for us to check in with this analogy to be sure that we're clear on it. "Call the mirror divine Science, and call man the reflection." The mirror is what allows us to see the reflection, and thus to better understand the original. Divine Science allows us to see who we really are, and to better understand who God is. The reflection can't initiate movement. It can't decide on its own to pick up the weight. It can only do it if the original does it. And if the original picks up a weight, the reflection can't choose to pick up a sandwich. It has no choice but to follow the original.

It's a very good practice to check in often with the definition of man (S&H 3) and put your name right in it. (For example, "Julie is idea, the image, of Love; she is not physique.") Once you've really established this for yourself, try it with members of your family, even those who seem to irritate you, and especially those whom you tend to worry about.

SECTION II - Man is always beautiful and complete.
Because God's beauty is timeless, man's beauty must be timeless, too. His beauty is established - it's an eternal fact, untouched by time, fashion, opinion. Our job is to let our "eyes look right on" - to be clear in our focus. (B 7) When we focus on matter, we'll never find true beauty. But when we keep straight to the path of righteousness, we can claim the promise, "And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning." (B 8) Think what it means to "be as the morning" - all fresh and new and full of promise!

Here's another thing man reflects: "those higher conceptions of loveliness which transcend all material sense." (S&H 5) Beauty is not a personal possession. When we believe that it's it becomes fragile. "Comeliness and grace are independent of matter." (S&H 5) No one was ever beautiful in matter, and if we seek beauty in matter, we'll never find it. Mrs. Eddy says, "The embellishments of the person are poor substitutes for the charms of being,..." (S&H 5) Have we accepted the "poor substitutes"? Do we believe that we lose our opportunity to be beautiful because we've passed a certain birthday? Are we busy looking for the wrinkles?

How many things tempt us to measure our lives by solar years! Often, Christian Scientists choose not to celebrate birthdays or to tell their ages. Usually we elect to do this after the "solar years" have built up a little. However, those of us with fewer "solar years" may want to consider this if we look closely at (S&H 6): "The measurement of life by solar years ROBS YOUTH and gives ugliness to age." Who wants to be robbed? By the way, you might want to look up "year" in the Glossary (S&H 598:19-2). It helps to make a distinction between "solar years" and the "Soul-filled years." These "Soul-filled years" must be the ones that we celebrate. "Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness." (S&H 6) Who wouldn't want more of those years?

It's just as wrong to suffer from "young age" as it is to suffer from old age. Let's be more alert to honor the completeness of EVERY idea of God, regardless of its apparent age, knowing that "Man is God's reflection, needing no cultivation, but ever beautiful and complete." (S&H 7)

SECTION III - Man is perfect now - "the light of the world."
How would you live your life if you actually believed what Jesus told you - "Ye are the salt of the earth. Ye are the light of the world"? What would happen if you saw that as your only identity, your only job description? You would treasure that light. You wouldn't put it under the bushel of personal sense. It wouldn't flicker out because of apathy, procrastination, shyness, or personal inadequacy. You'd lift up that light, not out of arrogance, but out of your love for mankind and your desire to help and heal them. This is the day to lift it up, to "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (B 10) The interesting thing here is that they don't see you - they see your good works. And they don't glorify you - they glorify your Father.

This week, let's really cherish the qualities brought out in the Beatitudes - humility, meekness, mercy, purity, and peace - and let's claim the promises that accompany the expression of those qualities. The result? We find ourselves in accord with the demand, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (B 12) And we find that it's really more a promise than a demand - a promise that the reflection must be just like the original. "Ye be therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

This law of perfection then becomes our "basis of thought and demonstration." (S&H 9) We may have heard the phrase "perfect God and perfect man" so many times that it seems like a cliché to us, but the actual application of that law is always fresh and new. It's not a "human platitude", but a "divine beatitude."(S&H 10) When we're really living the Sermon on the Mount, the demonstration of its rules and promises gives meaning and substance to "perfect God and perfect man." We inevitably grow into the understanding of those words.

It's a good thing to check in periodically with (S&H 11) to see if our sharing of Christian Science is more about "the tender word and Christian encouragement of an invalid; pitiful patience with his fears, and the removal of them" than it is about "hecatombs of gushing theories, stereotyped borrowed speeches, and the doling of arguments." The latter is a parody of Christian Science - "a literary or artistic work that broadly mimics an author's characteristic style and holds it up to ridicule."(The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language ) Would we want to parody Christian Science? No, we want the real thing, and it's not the real thing unless it's "aflame with divine Love."

SECTION IV - Man sees and reflects the light of Christ.
Jesus said, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (S&H 13) Who of us has not yearned for the "light of life" in moments of mental or physical darkness? This promise has its condition. It belongs to "he that followeth me." This condition is simple, but not always easy. "The light of the body is the eye," he says (B14). The body mirrors forth what you are "seeing" mentally. If we see only God's creation, our eye (vision) is single, and the whole body is full of light. The vision gets clouded when we try to look from two perspectives. - those of Spirit and matter.

When Jesus healed the blind man at Bethsaida, he illustrated a type of seeing that was completely above the material sense of sight. This healing seemed to come in two steps, in contrast with the usual immediate healings of Jesus. What do you think those two steps were?

One interesting thing about this healing is its context. If you read the entire chapter (Mark 8), you'll recall the story that we recently read about Jesus feeding 4,000 people with seven loaves and a few small fishes. Just after that, the disciples come to him on the ship. When he warns them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, they think it's because they have forgotten to bring bread on the ship. You can almost hear the frustration in Jesus' voice as he asks them, "...perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not?" It's as if they are in a state of mental blindness that says, "I see it, but I just don't get it." In the verse just before this healing, Jesus asks the disciples, "How is it that ye do not understand?" The Interpreter's Bible says, "There are so many who get only a dim and clouded view of him, of his possible meaning to themselves and to the world. The name and the figure are familiar. ...But it is still a dim, half-opaque vision." (Volume 7, page 764) Were the disciples half-blind, working their way up to the full revelation of the Christ?

When the blind man was brought to Jesus, the people asked Jesus to touch him. First, he took the man by the hand and led him out of the town. Why do you think he did that? Was he challenging him to look at things from a different perspective? Was he removing him from the ignorant malpractice that had labeled him "the blind man"? Second, he spit on his eyes, as if to show contempt for the material organs of sight. Next, he put his hands on him, and asked him if he saw anything. His answer was surprising. He saw "men as trees, walking." Again, The Interpreter's Bible illumines our view. "The half cure of blindness yields only a dim view of man. There is a very arresting power in the detail that when vision was only partly restored, the blind man saw men as though they were tress, walking. How many people still see them as things, not as sons and daughters of Almighty God?"

Do we see "men as trees walking"? Do we see personality types, ages, genders, races, socio-economic groups, or do we see each one as the gloriously unique expression of Soul? IB asks, "Do we look on the world with the eyes of Jesus, sharing his valuations of the things that matter most?" This week, let's practice "looking at the world with the eyes of Jesus," cherishing the identity of each one we meet. We won't take a "dim view" of anyone. See if this doesn't improve your vision.

Jesus didn't settle for half a healing. Again, he touched the man's eyes, and he MADE HIM LOOK UP! Isn't that what the Christ does to each of us? It makes us look up, beyond our comfortable habits and our self-absorbed looking inward and downward. And when we look up, we're like that formerly blind man: "He was restored and saw every man clearly."

It's so interesting that this healing is followed immediately by Jesus' question to the disciples, "Whom do men say that I am?" When they compare him to John the Baptist, Elias, or one of the prophets, he asks more specifically, "But whom say ye that I am?" Again, he doesn't let them see him as "trees walking." He makes them look up. He demands the clear recognition of his unique spiritual identity. He demands that of each one of us, too.

The corporeal sense can never take us beyond the state of semi-blindness, the "trees walking" mentality. But the Christ brings every thought into perfect focus. A great example of this is (S&H 18), "The rays of infinite Truth, when gathered into the focus of ideas, bring light instantaneously,..." (The Christ vision), "...whereas a thousand years of human doctrines, hypotheses, and vague conjectures emit no such effulgence." (Trees walking vision). Which will we choose/ Will we look up?

SECTION V - Man exists forever.
Isn't it wonderful to know that we are all "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ"? (B 16) What a glorious inheritance we have! Jesus knew this, and he actively claimed his inheritance. This was illustrated when he took his disciples Peter, James, and John "up unto a high mountain apart." (B17) They were ready to go up higher in their understanding of spiritual identity. "He was transfigured before them." The word "transfigure" goes back to the Greek that means "to change or transform." The change was so dramatic that "his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light." It was as if the man Jesus just stepped aside and let the pure Christ shine through. And the change was so great that the disciples could see him talking with Moses and Elias (the Greek form of the name Elijah). It's as if there was no time to impose on their friendship. Even though, to the mortal sense, they were separated by centuries, the law and the prophets and the healing Christ were eternally linked.

As Peter was proposing the building of three tabernacles on that spot, he was interrupted by a voice speaking out of a bright cloud, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." That pure, specific identification was unmistakable. The disciples couldn't miss it. And that recognition of the pure Christ had to transform them as well. Can we be transfigured? Yes! Because we are "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ." Notice how the promise of (B20) is illumined in (S&H 24) The more we know the Christ, the more we know ourselves. "Christ presents the indestructible man, whom Spirit creates, constitutes, and governs." (S&H 20) We are that man!

Do we lose our identity when we give up the mortal concept? No! "The individuality of man is no less tangible because it is spiritual and because his life is not at the mercy of matter. The understanding of his spiritual individuality makes man MORE real, MORE formidable in truth, and enables him to conquer sin, disease, and death." (S&H 21) We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We'll discover that God is saying about us, "This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased."

SECTION VI - Go out and shine!
Even if it seems that the world is covered in gross darkness, "the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." (B 21) God is light, and that light is inextinguishable. Man shines forth that light eternally. Each one reflects it differently. Each has his part to play. What is yours?

"God expresses in man [in you and me] the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis." (S&H 26) There's no stalling out, leveling off, or going backwards.

And here's our IN PROPORTION reference for this week (Are you watching for them in every lesson?): "The human capacities are enlarged and perfected IN PROPORTION as humanity gains the true conception of man and God." (S&H 26) Is the proportion shifting in your experience?

And one last promise: "The admission to oneself that man is God's own likeness sets man free to master the infinite idea." Will you admit that you really are God's own likeness? Then you're free to fly, free to shine.

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 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. 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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