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Become a Better Disciple by Being a "Torchbearer" for Christ! Lesson Application Ideas for "Christ Jesus"

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, August 27th, 2007

Become a Better Disciple by Being a "Torchbearer" for Christ!

Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on:

"Christ Jesus" for the week of August 27-September 2, 2007

by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Glen Ellyn, Illinois


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!   You can sign up free to have these mets emailed to you in English by Monday or in French or Spanish by Wednesday: CHECK www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/ FOR A FREE TRANSLATION of this weekly "met" offered in FRENCH by Pascal Bujard of Switzerland AND in SPANISH by Ana Arcioni of Spain.

This week's Lesson is as much about discipleship and becoming a better healer as it is about Christ Jesus.  The Christ idea Jesus exemplified is the light of the world that is always present in human consciousness.  In prehistoric times trustworthy individuals were chosen to keep the fire going.  Since they didn't yet know how to make fire, they had to bring it with them wherever they went.  The Christ is somewhat like that fire.  Each generation needs to cherish it and carry it on.  In the modern Olympics a torch symbolizes the spirit of the games as it is passed on until it reaches the location of the games.  At CedarS, campers who excel as exemplary spiritual seekers and leaders can earn the title of "Torchbearer."  [A week before CedarS recent Musical Theater production of "Godspell," five cast members (including the one playing Jesus and four of his disciples) became Torchbearers.  They shared the teachings of Jesus from the book of Matthew in awesomely choreographed songs and parables.]  Being a disciple means being willing to bear the torch -the Christ- the true light of the world. 

Golden Text

Christ Jesus, the light of the world, and the ultimate fisher of men, declared: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto men."  John 12:32  When Jesus called someone into service there was no question about it.  If Jesus told you to drop everything and follow him, do you think you would have obeyed?  At Cedars those selected as Torchbearers immediately set aside their normal routine and begin to carry out three tasks specifically designed to strengthen them spiritually.  Those called to be Torchbearers know that upon the successful completion of their challenges, they take an oath to continue exemplifying the highest standards in everything they do.  The Christ is calling each one of us daily to bear the torch.  Are you up for the challenge?

 

Responsive Reading

The Christ is perpetually calling men to be torchbearers.  Prophets throughout time have held up the ideal of a Messiah-a Savior "sent by God to reveal His truth to the heathen world." (Dummelow).   In the years immediately preceding Jesus' birth many were expecting something big to happen.  Astrologers in the East were expecting a world deliverer to appear.  Both the astrologers (called Magi) and Israelites, such as Simeon, were fully aware of the importance of Jesus' birth.  But the child didn't enter the scene with fanfare and worldwide support.  The child arrived in meekness, amid a hostile political environment.  The Magi revered the babe with the respect due a king, but they were keenly aware of the religious significance and political implications of the event and were publicly discrete about their intentions.  Simeon felt that being witness to the child fulfilled his life desire.  These wise individuals saw great possibilities in the humble beginning of Jesus' presence on earth.  The child grew, strengthened by the power of the Spirit.  At maturity, he took up the torch as the supreme example of Torchbearer for all mankind.

 

Section I:  A Light In the Darkness

At the time of Isaiah's prophecy the world was in spiritual darkness.  The coming Messiah would bring a ray of hope.  The personification of this new light is depicted as an ideal king (B1).  This royal figure possesses dominion as well as practical wisdom.  His mightiness means more than mighty in war.  "It implies some divine quality or character..."  He will be called "The everlasting Father."  He will not die or cease to care for His people as mortal kings do (The Abingdon Bible Commentary).  The fulfillment of this prophecy took several hundred years.  John the Baptist was the preeminent prophet of the time.  Many wondered if he might not be the expected Messiah.  But he was clear that his mission was a forerunner for the coming Christ.  He was a torchbearer, but Jesus would represent the torch itself.  "He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light." (B2)  When Jesus did arrive, John did not hesitate to identify him as the "Lamb of God."  He instructed his disciples to follow Jesus from that point on.  John "bare record" that he saw the Spirit descending upon Jesus.  John directed his followers toward Jesus and they in turn shared the news with others.  Not everyone was immediately convinced.  Nathaniel was not quite sure "any good thing" could come from Nazareth.  But Phillip didn't argue with him.  He simply invited him to "Come and see."

 

How do you feel about sharing the Christ with others?  Have you accepted the divine authority of the Christ message for yourself?  Would you consider yourself more like the Magi and Simeon who eagerly expected the Messiah?  Or, like John, are you willing to unselfishly lead others to the Christ without taking any credit for yourself?  Have you ever run into those who doubt the truthfulness of the healing mission of the Christ?  Maybe you're not sure yourself yet.  The gentle invitation to "Come and see" is open to all seekers, including you!

 

Mrs. Eddy likens the coming of Christ Jesus to the discovery of Christian Science.  She begins Science and Health by recalling the wonder of the Magi and shepherds as they sought the Messiah. (S1)  She asks whether the world will believe the modern day "wise men" as they witness the Christ in this age (S2).  How can she correlate her discovery to Jesus' birth?

 

She distinguishes between Jesus and Christ.  Jesus was the highest human expression of the divine idea, who actively destroyed error and brought light to the world (S3).  Nobody could ever equal his demonstration or take his place.  The Christ is divine-direct from God-which comes to destroy the errors of the flesh (S4).  The Christ existed before and after Jesus' time on earth.  It is still present today.  In order to be disciples of the Christ, we must follow the path Jesus set out for us (S5).  So are you ready and willing to be a modern day disciple and bear the torch?

 

Section II:  Time for A Career Change?

Jesus filled many roles as Messiah.  From the outset, he had the power to change lives.  Jesus was not one to pass up an opportunity to prove a spiritual point.  According to Luke's Gospel, Jesus had already begun his ministry.  Jesus had spent time at Simon's house healing his mother-in-law and a multitude of others.  He had also begun preaching throughout Galilee.  Simon Peter had not yet devoted his full time to being a student of Jesus.  At the end of a fruitless night of work, he was washing his fishing nets.  He probably expected his day to be over with.  But along comes Jesus and asks Simon if he wouldn't mind taking the boat back out a little so he could more easily address his audience.  Peter acquiesced to the request.  We'll probably never know what Jesus taught that day, but when he was finished, he turned again to Simon.  Simon might have been expecting a "thank you" for the use of the boat.  But instead Jesus told him to launch out deeper and cast out the nets again.  This wasn't a request but an order.  This time Simon protested.  He'd been out all night with no luck and the nets were just cleaned.  What would be the point?  Despite his reservations, he conceded and set out.  Simon Peter was astonished.  Realizing that Jesus must have had some divine authority, he felt totally out of his element.  He declared his unworthiness and just wanted to be left alone.  Then Jesus brought home the point: "From now on you'll be fishing for the souls of men!"  (The Living Gospels, Kenneth N. Taylor). As far as Peter and his companions were concerned, that sealed the deal.  They left everything and followed Jesus.

 

Mrs. Eddy's writings imply that her readers should put themselves in the disciple's place.  The lessons Jesus taught are relevant throughout time.  We need to learn the same lessons as his disciples did (S6).  She says we can either leave our nets or "cast them on the right side for Truth" (S7).  I've understood this to mean we can either let go of secular pursuits and devote our full time to healing, or spiritualize what we are doing and heal right where we are.  She does require that whatever our mission, it be done unselfishly and "without timidity or dissimulation" (S8).  Timidity is fearfulness.  Dissimulation is hiding under a false appearance or concealing real purpose.  (Student's Reference Dictionary).  In other words, if we are afraid or putting on a false front, we won't be effective.  We need to be courageous and honest.  Do you sometimes feel like you are toiling for nothing and nobody is interested in Christian Science?  Like Jesus, your Leader is telling you to launch out again!  "Millions of unprejudiced minds" are out there (S10).  Don't be afraid.

 

Section III:  And Now for Something Completely Different

Teaching, preaching, and healing were the main areas of Jesus' ministry.  Abingdon notes that Jesus' lessons were new.  His teaching was "vital, spiritual and authoritative, wholly unlike that of the scribes, who were always quoting what this or that rabbi had said or contended for."  Unlike most every other discipline of the time, Jesus taught meekness.  Regarding meekness, Dummelow writes, "This was a revolutionary doctrine. Judaism meant pride of race and privilege; Rabbinism, pride of learning; Roman imperialism, pride of power; Greek culture, pride of intellect or pride of external magnificence.  All agreed that the meek man was a poor creature, and the worldly world thinks so still... Meekness is a virtue which can be exercised both toward God and towards man; and inasmuch as it involves self-control, it is not a weak but an heroic quality."  This meekness doesn't mean being hesitant or timid.  Although not boastful or arrogant, the disciple is expected to let his light shine for all to see.  One of the challenges made to CedarS Torchbearers is to remain silent for twenty-four hours.  They are also given the opportunity for "Solo" time.  This is spending time alone with God for study, prayer and reflection.  This gives them the opportunity to practice meekness by being quiet and listening to God rather than exerting their personal opinions.  Jesus tells us in a Matthew "Godspell" song to "let your so light shine before men" that they may see your good works.  (B6)  The phrase, "good works" includes "not only practical deeds of kindness, but also sterling qualities of character" (Abingdon).  Torchbearers at camp are also shining examples of sterling character qualities.

 

Science and Health echoes the importance of meekness as a quality of discipleship (S12).  Our spiritual light is reflected (S13).  It doesn't originate with us.  It originates with God. Jesus' teaching had no creed as its precedent.  It was divine Love being demonstrated in human experience (S14).  Jesus emphasized that God was the Cause and man the effect (S15, 16).  As in Jesus' time, most theories and philosophies today derive their plausibility from previously held belief systems.  As Jesus based his authority on God alone, so does Christian Science.  Another challenge for Torchbearers at CedarS is to run until they are relying on God's power alone.  As you go through your day, you don't need to take personal responsibility or credit for the truths you express.  You are reflection.  This realization relieves you of unnecessary burdens.  You reflect the light.  Just let it shine!

 

Section IV:  Following Jesus Is the Path to True Freedom

Jesus declared himself "the light of the world."  The fact that Jesus didn't offer any human corroboration to back up his claim irked the Pharisees.  Jesus said that he did nothing of himself.  He only acted as directed by God.  He lived only to please God.  Those who followed his example would be truly free.  This implied that the Pharisees would have to change their ways.  But they considered their conduct to be just fine.  He also implied that they had no knowledge of the liberating truth he taught.  They felt they had full possession of all they needed for salvation.  Finally, he suggested that the Pharisees were not spiritually free, but bound by superstition to the letter of Mosaic Law (See Dummelow).

 

Though Jesus spoke boldly, he backed up his claims with action (S17).  We understand Jesus to be the "mediator" between flesh and Spirit (S18).  He not only explained but also demonstrated the truth of being.  In order to understand what he taught, we need to advance to a higher spiritual awareness than mere acquaintance with his words can afford (S19).  Jesus fully expressed and lived every precept he laid down.  His is the supreme example.  Our Leader asks, "Who is ready to follow...?" (S20).  To do so, we need to let go of the Pharisaical beliefs of our time.  We need to be willing to bring our lives into accordance with Christ, even if we think we're already OK.  We have to be humble enough to learn more than we already know.  The third challenge for CedarS' Torchbearers is to run a mile holding, but not drinking, water.  This signifies holding on to good thoughts.  Jesus offers the ultimate freedom to those who continue in his word -to those who hold to the course adhering not only to the letter of the law but also to the spirit as well.

 

Section V:  "Your Mission Is to Heal"

Jesus expected his students to heal.  The apostles were messengers or delegates.  They represented the one who sent them.  Before being sent into the world at large where they were sure to meet with hostility, they were first sent to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (B8)  There are varying thoughts as to what Jesus meant by "lost sheep."  It may have meant: those who willfully separated themselves from God; those who isolate themselves from service to others; those whose lives are drifting aimlessly; or those who didn't observe specific Jewish laws and were considered by religious officials as outcasts not worth bothering with (Abingdon and Interpreter's).  In any case, they were those who had some connection with Hebrew Law and had potential for accepting the message.  He also sent seventy others (B9).  Symbolically, the first twelve represented each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  The seventy were sent representing the number of members in the Sanhedrin-the supreme legislative body in ancient Israel-which included one member for each of the seventy nations believed to be in the world at the time.  Jesus recognized the need for more laborers to successfully spread the gospel.  Wherever they went - in territory friendly or hostile - they were to heal.  Dummelow comments that the phrase "eat such things as are set before you" indicates "The ministers of the gospel are not to be dainty or luxurious."  In other words, don't expect any special treatment.  Just stick to the business of healing.

 

Mrs. Eddy fully expected us to continue following Jesus' command to heal (S22).  She thought it perfectly natural to heal today as they did in Biblical times.  Jesus didn't bestow some special power on his students unattainable to us.  His students earned their way through demonstration of what he taught them (S24).  Mrs. Eddy firmly believed that her discovery of the Science of Christianity was the same method Jesus practiced and taught.  As modern day disciples and torchbearers, we too, can bring this healing message to the whole world (S26).

 

Section VI:  Lighting Up the World

Jesus presents the following conditions for discipleship: deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow him (B10).  To deny one's self doesn't mean to neglect one's genuine needs or honest desires.  But we do need to set aside the material view of selfhood that stands in the way of our spiritual progress and put God first.  Taking up the cross originally meant to take up your "tent peg."  It's similar to an Arabic word meaning, "take up your stakes and get ready for the day's march" (Abingdon).   We don't want to be stagnant in our discipleship.  We should be actively searching for new ground - new ideas - and following wherever the Christ leads us.  Jesus worked through the power of the Holy Ghost (B11).   This power consecrated him to his office as Messiah and it consecrates our work too.

 

As political pressures and interests took over the early Christian church, the emphasis on healing diminished to the point where it was nearly lost (S27).  Our Leader felt that we could change the world if everyone who followed Jesus symbolically, would take up the cause practically (S28).  Not only could this world change happen, it is our duty to see to it that it does (S29).  It is up to us to pick up the torch and let the light of truth shine for the whole world to see (S30).  Torchbearers at CedarS often go on to be counselors themselves.  They carry on the spirit, values, ideals, principles, and practice of CedarS and Christian Science to each new generation.  Mrs. Eddy expected each of her followers to be torchbearers of Christian Science and the healing power of Jesus message to the world.  Let's take up the challenge, earn our title, and light up the world.

Camp Director's Note: The above sharing is the latest in a series of CedarS Bible Lesson "mets" (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians [with bracketed notes by me as editor]. 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. 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.   B1 and 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.   Spirituality is your innate estate that connects you moment by moment with God. (See S&H 258:30)  Christ is the gift of light that Jesus gave. This Christ light of spiritual understanding comes with and reveals infinite blessings. So, have fun unwrapping and cherishing your very special, spiritual gift(s)!   Then, wherever you are, share them with all as big blessings that make the Infinite difference!

Enjoy!

Warren Huff, Camp Director    director@cedarscamps.org (636) 394-6162

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The weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff blessed each summer at CedarS, as well as to CedarS alumni, families and friends who have requested it. However, current and planned gifts are a big help and are greatly appreciated in defraying the costs of running this service and of providing needed camperships, programs and operations support.  Click http://www.cedarscamps.org/giving for more about how you can provide support online or to get information or discuss privately how to make a special gift to help perpetuate CedarS work.

 

You can also MAIL your tax-deductible support to:

The CedarS Camps, Inc.        THANKS TO YOU PRECIOUS DONORS

19772 Sugar Drive                      FOR YOUR ONGOING SUPPORT

Lebanon, MO 65536               OF CedarS IMPORTANT WORK!

LETTING 2 SPECIAL NEEDS BE KNOWN - Thanks to many of you, a need to cover 4 recent Lectures has been met!  Funding is still needed to help underwrite these special opportunities:

1        1. The CSO (formerly "College Org") Summit over Labor Day 2007 (Aug. 31-Sep. 3) at CedarS for all college and university students and professors as well as incoming high school seniors.  CedarS Metaphysical Newsletter Subscribers received details a few days ago in an email from us so that you could help spread the word about this event sponsored by TMC Youth (The Mother Church Youth committee).  It includes workshops offered by Christian Science lecturers, speakers and writers for the Christian Science Monitor, Journal and Sentinel.  You can find details on program, registration and financial aid in recently emailed links, on inside covers of recent periodicals, at tmcyouth.com & on CedarS website.  CedarS & our donors need to subsidize over $5,000 to cover expenses for this event.
 
 

2        2. "Maintenance Musts" Matching Opportunity!  A generous donor who is aware of the ongoing maintenance needs to make CedarS facilities measure up to its mission will give two dollars for every dollar donated! (up to the $25,000 needed goal)  A $25,000 grant will be available by the end of September and another $25,000 by the end of December, IF we raise $25,000 by then.

 

To print a formatted and printer-friendly version of this week's Met just go to: http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/met.asp or your e-mail address can be added per your request by our staff at CedarS.   For additional support, or if you have any concerns, please send e-mail to: director@cedarscamps.org.

 

 

MyBibleLesson is a new, visually oriented and very helpful resource for study of the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson.  It is being produced by The Christian Science Publishing Society and can be found at: myBibleLesson.com.  What a great auxiliary to lesson study -- maybe even reading beyond citation markers using the handsome new student books now sold in Reading Rooms.   MyBibleLesson contains word definitions, Bible background info, fun topical cartoons, timelines and translations, plus many healing ideas to use.  Why not check out this vehicle to help bring new meaning and life to each beloved Bible lesson in order to bless the youthful thinker and Sunday School student (and teacher) in us all! 
 
You can receive or stop your free subscription to CedarS weekly newsletter in your email box by Sunday or Monday of each week by subscribing - or unsubscribing --at www.cedarscamps.org/myCedars

 

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