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Don't buy into the lame claims of temptations or into "un-Reality Shows," their detours and delays - "Unreality" Lesson Application Ideas for April 2, 2006

Julie Ward, C.S.B.
Posted Sunday, March 26th, 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.

Don't buy into the lame claims of temptations or into "un-Reality Shows," their detours and delays
"Unreality" Lesson Application Ideas for April 2, 2006
by Julie Ward, CS (Westwood, Massachusetts)
GOLDEN TEXT - Take heed, pay attention!
We don't want to be tricked into a mental detour, turning aside from the "the path of righteousness" to worship other gods. Be aware this week of the subtle temptations that we all face to break the First Commandment.

RESPONSIVE READING - Jesus' temptation in the wilderness
Isn't it interesting that Jesus faced these temptations just before beginning his full-time public practice? Often when we're right on the brink of a spiritual breakthrough, the temptation comes to take a mental detour by acknowledging a power apart from God. Jesus wasn't fooled. He stayed with what he had learned from the Scriptures, and he was safe. We can do that, too. Mrs. Eddy wrote, "Since Jesus must have been tempted in all points, he, the immaculate, met and conquered sin in every form." (Science and Health 564:14-16) Is it possible that his temptation experience is a sort of template for us all? Let's take a look at it from that standpoint. First, he was "led up of the Spirit into the wilderness." Remember the definition of "wilderness" in the Glossary (Science and Health 597:16)? Have you noticed how often the wilderness is the setting for a spiritual breakthrough? Next, Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights. Mrs. Eddy gives us a definition for fasting in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany (222:12-14), "refraining from admitting the claims of the senses." This fasting didn't weaken him. It strengthened him. If we're facing temptation, the first thing we may need to do is to fast. Then we read that "the tempter" came to him. Who was this tempter? Was he wearing a red suit and carrying a pitchfork? The word comes from a Greek root meaning to "test, examine, prove, tempt." The tempter often comes in the guise of our own thought, tempting us to ask the wrong question by presenting a supposition. As you read the lesson, be sure to watch for the words coming from the root "suppose." In this case, the tempter uses that loaded little word, IF. In the first two temptations, the tempter plants a seed of doubt by beginning with, "IF thou be the Son of God..." First, he says, "IF thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." The temptation is to use Spirit to manipulate matter - to make it more comfortable, more abundant, more beautiful. But Jesus went right to the point. He quoted the Scripture. Notice that he didn't argue from his personal point of view. He said, "IT IS WRITTEN, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." He took refuge in the law of God. In the second temptation, the tempter again uses the IF word: "IF thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down..." And then he throws a curve ball. The tempter quotes the Scripture, using those words "IT IS WRITTEN." Here's an important point. If we use the Scripture just as a means of justifying our actions without actually living the spirit of the Scriptures, we're taking God's name in vain. The Scriptures can't be used for self-justification. If Jesus had just thrown himself from the pinnacle as a publicity stunt to prove to the public that he was the Son of God, his motives would have been wrong. He chose instead to prove his sonship through meekness, humility, and constant love. Once again, he didn't take the bait. He didn't have to justify himself. On the third try, the tempter appealed to the lust for power. He showed Jesus "all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them." He promised that Jesus would have them if he would fall down and worship him. Why was Jesus unmoved by this offer? Did he already know that there was only one kingdom and only one power, and that this kingdom and power belonged to God alone? He dismissed the tempter a third time with, "IT IS WRITTEN, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." In a sense, every temptation is a suggestion that the First Commandment can be broken, and our obedience to that commandment is our protection. Jesus' knowledge of Scripture, and his life of absolute obedience to Scripture protected him from temptation. It will protect us, too. And when those devilish suggestions are dismissed, the angels will come and minister to us as they did to Jesus.

SECTION I - God does not tempt His children.
James' letter to "the twelve tribes" might be written to us, too. (Check out the definition of "Children of Israel" in Science and Health 583:5) He assures us of the blessings that come when we overcome temptation, and warns us never to think that we're tempted by God. (B1) This is echoed in the spiritual interpretation of the Lord's Prayer (S&H 1), "And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from sin, disease, and death." I think this line is the headline for the entire lesson. Consider carefully the questions in (S&H 2). Does God "set us up"? Many theologies believe that He does, that He uses evil to teach us good. But Christian Science teaches us that God is all good and only good, so evil is unreal, a deception. God "does not produce moral or physical deformity; therefore such deformity is not real, but is illusion, the mirage of error." (S&H 3) Are we just as willing to see the unreality of moral deformity as the unreality of physical deformity? In either case, we're seeing a mirage - "something that is illusory or insubstantial." (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language) Here's my candidate for THE line to memorize in this week's lesson: "Evil is not supreme; good is not helpless; nor are the so-called laws of matter primary, and the law of Spirit secondary." (S&H 5)

SECTION II - Did God tempt Abraham?
You might want to begin this section by looking up the definition of "Abraham" in the Glossary (579:10-14). It's interesting to note that, just after a section that tells us that "God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man," (B 1), we have a story that begins by telling us that "God did tempt Abraham." (B 5) As you probably know, Abraham was told to take his only son Isaac to Mount Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice to God. Abraham obediently prepared the altar and the wood for the offering. He even bound up his son and laid him on the altar. Although Abraham loved God, he had not yet let go of the concept of God as a personality who knew and permitted both good and evil. In a sense, his temptation was the temptation to believe in a God who tempts. Just at the moment when he was ready to sacrifice his only son, the angel of the Lord appeared to tell him that would not be necessary. This follows the pattern of Jesus' temptation, when the devil left him, and angels came and ministered to him (See the definition of "Angels" in the Glossary 581:4). Abraham didn't have to give up Isaac, but he did have to give up the false sense of him as a personal creation or possession. As his sense of fatherhood was purified, he must have gained a better sense of his own Father-Mother God. All of us have to give up the false supposition of an anthropomorphic God. This is the sacrifice we all must make. "Not materially but spiritually we know Him as divine Mind, as Life, Truth, and Love." (S&H 7) And here's our "in proportion" statement for the lesson (Have you noticed that there is one in almost every lesson?). "We shall obey and adore IN PROPORTION as we apprehend the divine nature and love Him understandingly, warring no more over the corporeality, but rejoicing in the affluence of our God." (S&H 7) Some definitions of "affluent" are "rich, opulent; copious, abundant; flowing freely." Do we think of God as a tough taskmaster, or do we actually rejoice in His affluence? This section ends with Mrs. Eddy's instruction that "...spiritual understanding is better than all burnt offerings."(S&H 9) No material thing, however precious, can take the place of increased spiritual understanding. It's the affluence of our God "flowing freely" - the great gift that God gives to us and we give right back to Him.

SECTION III - Are we tempted to believe that mortal mind has power?
When Moses and his brother Aaron went before Pharoah, God instructed them that Aaron should cast down his rod, and they would see it turn into a serpent. This happened just as expected, but they were in for a big surprise. Pharoah called in his wise men, sorcerers, and magicians, and they reproduced the feat. Their rods became serpents, too. Here was the point of temptation. It appeared that there was no difference between a legitimate demonstration of Spirit and a cheap magic trick performed through hypnotic suggestion. Would Moses and Aaron equate the power of God with the power of the human mind? No! "Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods." (B 9) God had the final word. He proved that, "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord." (B 10) Are we ever tempted to substitute human will for the legitimate practice of Christian Science? We often hear of systems of healing that claim to be "just like Christian Science." Mrs. Eddy investigated and rejected the popular forms of "mental medicine" and "mind-cure" of her day (S&H 11). She wrote, "Such theories have no relationship to Christian Science, which rests on the conception of God as the only Life, substance, and intelligence, and excludes the human mind as a spiritual factor in the healing work." Anything that tempts us to believe that mortal mind has power is flawed in its premise, for, "In reality there is no mortal mind, and consequently no transference of mortal thought and will-power." (S&H 12) The more we acknowledge the allness of infinite Mind, the less we are tempted to claim any power in mortal mind.

SECTION IV - Are we tempted to think that good and evil mingle?
The parable of the tares and the wheat presents some of the temptations that we're faced with every single day. The owner of the field sowed only good seed, "but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way." Who was "the enemy"? Was it a person? Was the "sleep" the hypnosis of apathy, ignorance, hopelessness, or discouragement? The Interpreter's Bible tells us that the tares were a weed called the poisonous bearded darnel. Apparently, this "grows to about the same height as wheat, and was regarded by the rabbis as a perverted kind of wheat." (Volume 7, page 414) IB continues, "Darnel and wheat are hard to distinguish until both are in the ear." The temptation came to the owner of the field when his servants asked, "Didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? Whence then hath it tares?" (B 11) Have you ever been tempted in this way? (It's sort of an echo of "If thou be the son of God...") It's the mode of animal magnetism to ask the wrong question: "Where did evil come from?" (as if evil were real). This spawns a host of other wrong questions: "Why do bad things happen to good people? What did I do wrong? What's wrong with my thinking? What did I fail to do?" In this parable, the owner of the field didn't take the bait. He simply stated, "An enemy hath done this." Mortal mind has suggested this! Furthermore, he didn't allow his servants to go out willy-nilly uprooting the tares. He knew that the differences between the tares and wheat would be more obvious as they grew. Sometimes, when it appears that there are tares growing in our individual thought, our family, or our church, it's wise to "let both grow together until the harvest." The essential ingredient here is GROWTH. As we grow, the differences between the tares and the wheat will be much more obvious to us, and the separation process will be easier. At harvest time, the servants were to first uproot the tares, and then gather them together to be burned. As growth makes it more and more clear to us what comes from God and what doesn't, we can begin to eliminate the errors in our consciousness. At that point, we want to be careful to do a complete job. Sometimes, we gather up the tares, but we forget to burn them. We hold on to old hurts and memories, or we clutch our old habits close to us through self-justification or self-condemnation. If we do this, we're not making room in the barn for the wheat. Burn those tares! Make room for all the good that God is giving us. No matter how long they appear to grow together, the tares and the wheat NEVER MINGLE! Even if they look alike, talk alike, act alike, they will never touch. "The temporal and unreal never touch the eternal and real." (S&H 17) Note how Mrs. Eddy repeats the words three times, "NEVER TOUCH." A tare will never become wheat, and wheat will never become a tare.

SECTION V - Are we tempted by unbelief?
In this section, Jesus faces the temptation to believe in incurability. (B12) The father of the young man who had "a dumb spirit" had watched the awful effects of the malady for so long. He had taken his son to the disciples, but they couldn't heal him. Finally, he brought him to Jesus. I've often wondered why Jesus asked him how long this had been going on. Perhaps he needed to handle the belief of time in the case. Aren't we often tempted to think that something is harder to heal if it's been going on for a long while? Are we sometimes tempted to believe that the problem somehow becomes part of our identity? At this point, Jesus is confronted by another IF question, "If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us." Of course he could do something! He wasn't helpless before the belief, because he knew it was only a belief, no matter how vivid or how longstanding it claimed to be. The next temptation in the case came with the father's words, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." Mortal mind suggests to us that belief and unbelief can dwell together just like the tares and the wheat, that man is a pendulum swinging between belief and unbelief. But unbelief is a lie about the fact that God KNOWS. He never doubts His own omnipotence. And we reflect that Mind. "' Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief!' expresses the helplessness of a blind faith; whereas the injunction, 'Believe, and thou shalt be saved!' demands self-reliant trustworthiness, which includes spiritual understanding and confides all to God." (S&H 20) Let's abide in that "Believe, and thou shalt be saved!" consciousness - self-reliant trustworthiness, spiritual understanding, and the willingness to confide ALL to God. When Jesus rebuked the foul spirit , it seemed as if the symptoms worsened temporarily. It even appeared that the young man had died, but Mrs. Eddy calls this "clear evidence that the malady was not material." (S&H 18) Jesus refused to be drawn into the picture. He refused to meet error on its own terms. If our treatment seems to stir up the symptoms in a case, we won't be afraid. We won't doubt the power of the Word. Even if it appears - as it did in this case - that the patient has died, we'll be steadfast in the Truth. And we'll be victorious, as Jesus was, because we know that, "If God, or good, is real, then evil, the unlikeness of God, is unreal. And evil can only seem to be real by giving reality to the unreal." (S&H 21)

SECTION VI - You're fully equipped with scriptural replies to stand up to any temptation
In early Jewish and Christian literature, Jannes and Jambres were identified as the famous Egyptian magicians who challenged Moses and Aaron by having their rods turn into serpents. Paul seems to be saying to Timothy that we, too, will have our challenges. (B 14) Paul certainly had his persecutions and afflictions. Anyone who stands for the omnipotence of Truth and Love will be challenged by those who believe evil to be real and powerful. "But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was." Don't you love that promise? Whatever form resistance to Truth may take, it shall proceed no further. It will expose itself as a lie. Paul was delivered out of all his persecutions, and we will be, too. Paul's advice to Timothy applies to us all. When we're tempted, we can take refuge in the Scriptures. We can say with Christ Jesus, "It is written..." Our familiarity with the Word and our constant living of the Word is our protection, our joy, our progress. J.B. Phillips paraphrases these last verses (II Tim. 314-17, The New Testament in Modern English): "Yet you must go on steadily in those things which you have learned and which you know are true. Remember from whom your knowledge has come, and how from early childhood your mind has been familiar with the holy scriptures, which can open the mind to the salvation which comes through believing in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man's life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God, and fit him fully for all branches of his work." You are fully equipped by the scriptures to stand up to the temptation to believe that error is real. Here are a few scriptural replies to error that you can use this week and always: - "It is written..." - "Get thee hence, Satan!" - "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord." - "An enemy hath done this." - "Burn the tares!" - "They shall proceed no further." You'll find others. Stand up to any suggestion that error has reality or power, and you'll find yourself growing stronger day by day. "The realization that all inharmony is unreal brings objects and thoughts into human view in their true light, and presents them as beautiful and immortal." (S&H 26) Get ready to welcome into thought this wider, more beautiful view!

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
CedarS Camps Office
1314 Parkview Valley
Manchester, MO 63011
(636) 394-6162

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