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Connect with God. Accept His Gift of Love!

Kathy Fitzer, St. Louis, MO & Park City, UT
Posted Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Connect with God. Accept His Gift of Love!
Metaphysical application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson: "Doctrine of Atonement" for October 19, 2008
Prepared by Kathy Fitzer, C.S. of St. Louis, MO

Editor's Note: The following application ideas for this week and Possible Sunday School Topics that follow are offered primarily to help CEDARS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study and application of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp! You can sign up to have them emailed to you free -- in English by Monday or Tuesday each week, or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION in French from Pascal or in Spanish from Ana. (We no longer have a translator available for German.) JUST SIGN UP at www.cedarscamps.org/newsletters

The word "atonement" literally means "setting at one those who before were at variance." (Westminster Bible Dictionary)  Jesus' life (and works) demonstrate this doctrine of atonement.  Jesus understood that the Son is as inseparable from the Father as the rays are from the sun, or numbers from the principle of mathematics.  He taught God's unfailing love for His creation.   He sacrificed a mortal sense of life to demonstrate immortal life.  He showed people how to reconnect with God.  Responding to the unfailing grace of God and committing to the teachings of Christ, we discover our at-one-ment, including consistent good without variableness and without end!


Golden Text: In order to be at one with God, we have to abide (continue and remain stable) in the doctrine of Christ -- as taught and demonstrated by Jesus.

Responsive Reading: To sin is to transgress (to go beyond the limit; violate) God's law.  Sometimes human thought strays (sins).  But, we have an advocate -- Christ -- a voice that pleads our cause and defends our position as one with God's law! If you knew someone was fighting for your rights, you'd want to get to know that person, wouldn't you?  So, how do we know if we really know and love Christ?   By taking a look at how well we are keeping his commandments. Jesus summed up those commandments as: love God and love your neighbor.  Pretty simple!  But, be careful.  If we let love of the world sneak in, love of God fades.  This is what the world's version looks like: "a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions." (New Living Translation)  That kind of thinking subjects us to limitations -- such as the financial "crisis" currently tempting us.  As we obey the doctrine (commandments) of Christ, we're safe within the "limits" of God's permanence and experience the limitless consistency inherent in God's law of love.

Section 1: Sonship -- The Basis of Jesus' Authority
What enabled Jesus to teach with such authority that the powers of evil (the unclean spirits) could no longer hide, or pass themselves off as an individual's thought or identity, but were destroyed?   Wasn't it that he recognized his identity as the Son of God?  The Son has the same nature as God. (Westminster)  The Scribes taught from the standpoint of being separate from God, and teaching about him.  Jesus taught from the standpoint of being one with God -- the full manifestation of God. (B-1)  Jesus totally understood that there is one Creator -- God the Father -- and one mediator between Spirit and flesh -- Christ. (B-2)  Jesus taught by example.  He demonstrated his oneness with God and sacrificed his life to save mankind from the belief of separation, a false sense of law, and the evidence of the senses. (S-3)  And Jesus taught his followers to claim only one Father and to heal by resorting to the divine Principle. (S-4&5)  Claiming our status as God's man -- the sons and daughters of God -- we have authority! (S-2)

Section 2: God Loves Us
We abide in God and God in us (oneness) as we abide in love. (B-5)  It was out of God's love for man that the Word (God's revelation of Himself) was made flesh in the form of Jesus Christ. (B-2)  Moses presented the law to human consciousness.  But, Jesus fulfilled that law by introducing the elements of grace and truth that revealed God's practical/effective love. (B-4&7)  Mrs. Eddy refers to Christ as the "godliness which animated" Jesus. (S-6) To animate is to give life to; to encourage; to give vigor and zest to; and to move to action.  God demonstrated the animating power of Christ in Jesus' life so that we can understand how it animates us, too!  We're never stuck.  Life can't be sucked out of us -- or out of our economy either. Think about a cartoonist animating his/her creation.  The artist is the only source of life for a cartoon character.  And, the character cannot die unless the artist allows it -- which of course he/she does not! God animates the divine nature of each of us.  God never turns away from man -- though it may sometimes seem that way in the middle of a challenging time.  But, even when Jesus suffered through the crucifixion, the divine Principle, Love was sustaining him.  By that example, Christ enables us to realize that Love ALWAYS sustains us.  We are led (by the shepherd) back to the point of being able to see the ever-presence of our Father-Mother and respond to the "pen" of our creator.(B-6)  Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross and rose again to demonstrate his unity with God.  One of the tenets of our church calls on us to acknowledge this atonement as evidence of God's love! (S-8)  Jesus' atonement on behalf of all mankind didn't stop with the crucifixion -- the ultimate sacrifice.  God's grace -- the unconditional love that reconciles us to Him -- resulted in Jesus' resurrection.  In contrast to man-made doctrines (formerly rules touted by the Scribes and Pharisees, and currently those of health laws, a volatile stock market, and limitations in general), God's law of love leads to resurrection. (S-9 & 10)

Section 3: Re-formed from Sin, Be the Servant of Righteousness
Jesus hung out with sinners, because they were the ones that needed his Christ-message.  Jesus' mission was to reconcile the differences (mediate) between Spirit and the flesh.  Because of His grace and mercy, God continues to send His Christ to us to lead us to repentance.  The Pharisees simply condemned and turned their backs on sinners.  Christ embraced them in order to turn them to God. (B-8)  How do we respond to those who aren't doing the right thing -- or who are just different from us?  Sin acts as a cloud to hide the brilliance of Love, as a cloud of water vapor hides the sun. Jesus taught people how to escape from evil by turning them from sin and causing them to "lose sight of mortal selfhood" -- the cloud of separation.  As we turn from sin (the belief of separation from God) and overcome error at every step, we find Christ, "the real man and his relation to God." (S-11 &14)  With this freedom comes the responsibility to be the "servant of righteousness." (B-9)  I have enjoyed thinking of righteousness as right relationship with God.  We have a responsibility to not just accept what JESUS did for mankind, but to continue that work -- to imitate him. (S-12)  In this human realm, we all seem to slip from time to time.  Our job is to continue to turn our thought, and the thought of others to the right relationship of ONENESS with God and so re-form the sinner (whether it is ourself or others) through love! (S-13)  The ultimate of love is to be the servant of God -- never giving up on ourselves or others, but beholding the Christ as ever-present, speaking to and leading human consciousness away from self, to God.  Keeping God as our model, we will come to "recognize the divine sonship" as Jesus did.

Section 4: Crucifixion and Resurrection -- Evidence of God's Love.
Jesus didn't go through the ordeal of crucifixion for himself!  He was sent by God to give eternal life to everyone who believed in him (accepted his message.) (B-10)  We can learn a lot as we ‘eavesdrop" on Jesus' prayer as he prepares to sacrifice himself in order to save mankind from their sins (their wayward beliefs.)  He prays first that God glorify (display the bright splendor) of His Son (His Christ, or divine message) so that the Christ could reveal the splendor of God. Jesus' mission was always to direct thought back to God.  It was never about himself.  Pretty good way for us to approach whatever we are asked to do.  Our purpose is to show-off God!  Jesus defined life eternal as knowing God and Christ.  It has nothing to do with how LONG we "live."  It has everything to do with what we know of Life!  After Jesus prayed for himself, he prayed for those that believe on him, and those who would believe on the work of those early disciples.  That means Jesus was praying for us!  The prayer is simply that we may feel as at-one-with God as Jesus felt.  And recognize that God loves us, as He loved Jesus. (B-11)

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter spoke to those gathered, sharing the story of God manifesting His power through Jesus' life, including his miracles and wonders.  And then Peter told of his crucifixion and his resurrection, explaining that "God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip" (B-12 The New Living Bible)  The crucifixion and resurrection was the ultimate demonstration, and illustrated indisputably God's practical LOVE for mankind! (S-15&16)  Does God send suffering in order to rescue us?  Mary Baker Eddy explains that "suffering is an error of sinful sense which Truth destroys." (S-17)  It was the sinful world thought (that accepted separation from God) that crucified Jesus.  Jesus loved mankind sufficiently to sacrifice his mortal sense of life in order to make evident the love of God that frees man from sin, sickness, and death.  Christ -- the Word of God -- removed the stone that would keep Jesus (and us) entombed in the belief of life, intelligence, and substance in matter. (S-18&20)  Check out the 5th tenet of Christian Science (S-19) from the perspective of the divine revelation that Spirit is ALL and matter is nothing.   That's what Jesus demonstrated throughout his career.  What greater gift of Love could be given us?!  Don't we owe it to ourselves and mankind to say thank you by following his example?

Section 5: God's Gift of Grace
Just as God loved the world enough to send His Son in the form of Jesus Christ, God's grace continues.  Grace is a love that comes with no strings attached.  It is given freely and given to ALL.  It doesn't have to be earned.  It is, "the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life" (Strong's)  Grace is of God, and as it is experienced, it is natural that it is reflected in our lives.  Jesus commanded us to love one another.  It is because of God's grace that we are able to follow that command and live in unity!  (B-14&15)  Mary Baker Eddy tells us that what we MOST need is "the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds."  So, whether it looks like we need improved health or a fatter bank account, or peaceful human relationships, all we really need is more grace.  Acknowledging the unconditional love that God is pouring out on us enables us to express patience, meekness, love, and good deeds.  No blame games; no focusing on what is lacking or on instant gratification.  Our job is just to be good (respond to God's influence of good) on an ongoing basis -- to acknowledge our ONENESS with Good, and rejoice in the fullness of His grace! (S-22)  Understanding and accepting the ONENESS of God, allows us to see the UNITY of Father and Son.  And mankind would experience that unity. (S-24)  Then, our human governments, economies, homes, activities, health, etc. would be seen to be subject only to the consistency of harmony. (S-23&25)

Follow Jesus' example.  He showed us that we can afford to surrender a mortal sense of life.  As we abide in the doctrine of Christ, having no other mind BUT Christ (the divine message from God to man) we will refuse to be mesmerized by the reports of the senses.  And, we will know the eternal life that comes from doing God's will! God's grace never fails!  "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; ..." (S&H 340: 23)
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Camp Director's Note:
This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, seven-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "mets" (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. (To keep the flow of the practitioner's ideas intact and to allow for more selective printing the "Possible Sunday School Topics" and Homework options come on a following page or subsequent email.) This weekly email (and website posting) is intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and 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, application 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 new angles on daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. 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.
Enjoy!
Warren Huff, Camp Director, director@cedarscamps.org (636) 394-6162
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Possible Sunday School Topics (P.S.S.T.s) for the Christian Science Bible Lesson "Doctrine of Atonement" for the week ending Sunday, October 19, 2008
by Merrill Boudreaux [and an anonymous friend]

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Golden Text and Responsive Reading] -
What are the definitions of "Atonement" and "At One Ment"? Which of these definitions shows an abiding in God? Why? [You may want to discuss the 3rd verse of Hymn 263: "Only God can bring us gladness." By abiding in God you avoid being "of the world" and overcome "a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions." (I John 2:15-16 New Living Translation) ]

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 1] -
What do you know of the life of Jesus of Nazareth? Make a list of key events in his life, arrange in chronological order if you can. What are some of Jesus' teachings? Look to the Sermon on the Mount for guidance in Matt. chapters 5, 6, and 7.

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 2] -
In this Bible section Jesus refers to himself as "the good shepherd." What is the purpose of a shepherd? What qualities must a shepherd possess? What other Bible stories do you know or can look up about shepherds?
[In Psalms 23, we are the sheep. Let's fully trust and obey our Shepherd, no matter the circumstances. Consider role playing the following scary situation. "Sometimes, in spite of all the care of the shepherd and his dogs, a wolf will get into the very midst of the flock. The sheep are wild with fright. They run and leap and make it impossible to get at the foe in their midst, who at that very moment may be fastening his teeth in the throat of a helpless member of the flock. But the shepherd is with them. He knows what to do even at such a time. He leaps to a rock or hillock that he may be seen and heard. Then he lifts his voice in a long call, something like a wolf's cry: 'Ooh! ooh!'

"On hearing this, the sheep remember the shepherd; they heed his voice; and, strange to tell, the poor, timid creatures, which were helpless with terror before, instantly rush with all their strength into a solid mass. The pressure is irresistible; the wolf is overcome; frequently he is crushed to death, while the shepherd stands there on a rock crying, 'Ooh! ooh!' '_I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.'" Song of our Syrian Guest by William Allen Knight, downloadable free at www.gutenberg.org/etext/12615)

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 3] -
What is a Pharisee, a Publican, a Disciple? On whom did Jesus have mercy? How did he demonstrate that mercy? Did he just "talk the talk" or did he "walk the walk"? (See S&H markers 11, 12 & 14 and the Bible marker 8.)  What is the result of being at one with God? (See S&H marker 14.)
[At lunch or other times consider reaching out to social outcasts like Jesus did. (B8) You may need to follow Mrs. Eddy's directive to "break up cliques." S&H 239:7 Prove that you can do this lovingly and still be a friend to all. Discuss the hows and whys.]

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 4] -
Write out the desires stated in Jesus' prayer in the Bible - marker 11. [Model a prayer for what you want to accomplish after Jesus' prayer matching his "purpose to show-off God!" Kathy Fitzer met for section 4] What is the definition of Pentecost? [50th day after Passover celebration. Have class open Bibles to Acts 1 and 2 to answer the following questions.] Where were the disciples on the day of Pentecost? Why were they at that location? What happened to them on that day? Look for the word "one" in Bible marker 12. What does Bible marker 13 say that the disciples witnessed? Why was the witnessing of the resurrection of Jesus so important for the disciples? How did they know Jesus was resurrected?

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 5] -
What is it that "we most need"? [Discuss what you think you need most and why more grace could help accomplish it best.] This is a good memorization opportunity from S&H marker 22, page 4, lines 3-5. What is the result for mankind of having one father, one God? (See S&H marker 24 and also S&H 340:23.)

 

 

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