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“Live 2 Give” – to love divinely—“For Love alone is Life”! ( “Love” Hymn 30, 434)

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, July 28th, 2014

[“Live 2 Give” – to love divinely—“For Love alone is Life”! ( “Love” Hymn 30, 434)]
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on:

Love

July 28—August 3, 2014

by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S.
Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), Illinois craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683

[Bracketed italics added by CedarS Director, Warren, who still needs help with filling a few open bunks in 5th sessions, as well as with Life-transforming camperships for worthy recipients!]

The words of the Golden Text, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” are lovely to think about, and almost instantly bring us a sense of hope. They are part of an oracle given to the children of Israel when they were in exile. The Abingdon Bible Commentary says these words were part of God’s promise to “restore to himself a people which has lost courage to seek him.” Adam Clarke sees these words as applicable to all believers—as an example of a people, “most wondrously preserved by the providence and mercy of God, as a standing proof of the Divine authority of the Scriptures…” His view is based on the fact that indeed the children of Israel had been saved more than once, and their relationship with God had a strong history.

Yes, eventually, the children of Israel were returned from exile, but when they were in the middle of it, they had every reason to be discouraged, as we sometimes are. The Scriptures promise that God’s love is everlasting—not confined to a time or people. It exists eternally without fail and without limitation.

The Responsive Reading is a continuation of the Golden Text. As exiles at the time, and to their sense, the children of Israel hadn’t had any proofs of God’s protection in a while. The prophet is saying that God has always loved them, and will show that love by bringing the Children of Israel out of their captivity.

Do you ever feel like that? Like you don’t feel God’s presence as much as you used to? That somehow, you’ve lost your way, or been separated from God’s love and protection? The prophet tells us to “sing with gladness” and expect to be saved. He promises that God will bring everyone back irrespective of location or current condition. The prophet also foresees the returning exiles as being filled with remorse for their sins. This could be a hint for us as to the frame of readiness we need to return to God. When we feel separated, it’s not due to God’s turning from us, but to us turning from Him. We need to acknowledge our mistakes in order to correct them. When we do, we will see that God is protecting and guiding us in ways that will include provisions for whatever we need to correct our path successfully and to thrive. In order to save us from wandering back to God on a circuitous twisting path, He provides direction to keep us moving in a straight line.

The prophet indicates that every conceivable provision will be supplied as the redeemed “flow together to the goodness of the Lord.” The reference to “wheat” has particular significance to the staff at CedarS Camps who are often referred to as “the finest of the wheat.” Eighteenth Century English Baptist pastor and biblical scholar, John Gill points out that the finest wheat includes the nourishing effect of the gospel as opposed to the chaff of false doctrines. He notes that there is a long tradition of the “fine wheat” standing for God’s provisions—from manna provided in the wilderness, to Christ Jesus as “the bread of life.” We come to God, and campers come to CedarS to get that finest wheat. We intuitively know that our true nourishment comes from seeking, listening to, and obeying God.

The net effect of our turning home to God is that our sorrows are turned into joy, and where we were once discouraged and cast down, we will instead, be comforted and full of rejoicing, completely satisfied with every good thing. The psalmist reminds us that Love operates without discrimination and that nobody is ever left out.

Section 1: We Always Begins with God
What makes us good? What makes us want to even try to be good? What makes us love? Or desire love? Or seek it? Is it a built-in aspect of human nature? Some think so, but many would say the opposite is true: that man is generally a brute, and exists only to seek his own aims and to fulfill his own desires. The theory of “survival of the fittest” is hardly based upon an innate desire for love and goodness. The traditional religionist might say that the whole point of religion in general is to steer mankind toward higher aims and unselfishness contrary to his natural inclinations. Generally speaking, a majority of spiritual disciplines—even those of a polytheistic or borderline pagan theology—are aimed at improving and civilizing mankind and giving him something better to aim for than what seem to be naturally selfish inclinations.

Most traditions also have theories as to why mankind needs so much help in behaving better than he does. Again, from a generic standpoint, the stories of mankind’s lack of natural goodness, kindness, and love portray man as once being naturally good, but through either his own sinful disobedience, or through some cosmic deception, mankind fell into his current state of depravity. Prophets, spiritual guides, shamans, gurus, and other enlightened individuals have tried to teach us how to be better.

The Bible makes it clear that human wisdom and goodness did not originate with men, but has one source alone—God. “All human love is preceded and generated by the love of God” (Vincents Word Studies). “We love him, because he first loved us” (B1). Isaiah’s prophecy of redemption (B2) is quite similar to that of Jeremiah. We are God’s—not our own. We are redeemed because we are God’s, and are created for His glory. To be called by your name implies that the caller knows who you are. And to be called by someone else’s name is the same as being regarded as their kin; so for God to call us by His name signifies a familial relationship. We are therefore, loved and precious in His sight. Our Father, our God, made us perfect—in His image and likeness (B3). It naturally follows that the image reflects the original. The psalmist knew the importance of beginning with God and pursued aims beyond worldly pursuits—knowing that he wouldn’t be satisfied until he awoke in God’s likeness (B4).

“Principle” is defined in The Students Reference Dictionary, as “the cause, source, or origin of anything.” Mary Baker Eddy defined Love as the divine Principle, the Father and Mother of the universe (S1). She also says that man in God’s likeness can never be separated from this Principle (S2). From the start, she takes a stand unlike any other. She understood man as originating not in an evolutionary material process, but as complete and perfect, created by God; and furthermore, that man can never fall from obedience or be separate from his perfect Principle. She writes that when we understand that, we will indeed awake in His likeness (S3). As we’ve discussed many times before, Mrs. Eddy explains that men only seem to be physical beings because they’re ignorant of Love as the true, divine origin of man (S4). They reverse things, making God more like men than men like God. The reflection in a mirror has to be just like the original. If man is God’s reflection, he must be like His creator (S5).

Section 2: Loving Communion with God
Traditionally, kneeling shows respect and deference; therefore, the psalmist calls upon us to kneel before our maker (B5). Knowing that we are created and loved by God, it’s natural that we revere and honor Him. It’s also natural to want to communicate with our maker, get closer to Him, and avail ourselves of His love. This is the beginning of prayer. We yearn to commune with God, to turn to Him with an open, expectant heart. The psalmist gives us an example of that humble prayer that turns to God for guidance in complete trust (B6). This prayer isn’t merely pleading and wishing; it’s understandingly turning to the trusted, proven source of all good with complete confidence.

The prayer of Jabez (B7) is another example of a higher sense of petition. Some say that the Lord’s Prayer is based on it. Here Jabez isn’t making a request for personal gain, or trying to tell God what he would like to see take place. He is simply looking for a higher sense of his relationship with God. To be “blessed” is to be happy from within, independent of outside circumstances. That’s what Jabez is asking for. The desire to “enlarge [his] coast” is the desire to have his environment free from worldly distractions, and to live in the company of those who are supportive of his desire for holiness. He wants to be free from all worldly evil and stay close to God.

In the Lesson on “God” a few weeks ago, we talked about the importance and effectiveness of truly scientific prayer that holds steadfastly to the reality of things. But here, we have a sense of a deep, yearning petition—“the desire which goes forth hungering and thirsting after righteousness” that is blessed of the Father (S6). It’s clear that we can’t get higher, nor can we go farther than understanding that God is Love (S7). Praying to God as a corporeal person, rather than understanding Him as infinite, ever-present Love isn’t the same as honest petition. If we think we have to remind God of our problems, that still means we are thinking of God as manlike rather than the other way around. But if our petitions are based on the understanding of God as “infinite, incorporeal Love, to whom all things are possible” then we are on solid ground. In my life I have found myself literally on my knees in dire circumstances. But at least for me, that indicated that I was totally ready to let go of every human question, and pre-conceived notion I had; and was wholly open to whatever God had to show me. It wasn’t pleading, but deep, consecrated listening.

In Christian Science we recognize God as available, reliable, and fully capable of meeting our need. Mrs. Eddy gives an example of the difference and elevating effect of replacing a human sense of God with the understanding of God as divine Love in her re-statement of the 23rd Psalm (S9). We don’t have to ask Love itself to love us. We just need to turn toward Her and open our arms.
[See Warren’s P.S. 1 about the 5 lambs featured in Bible Lands Park this week along with the 23rd Psalm in our Bible Lesson.]

Section 3: Unwavering Devotion and Loves Protection
When we understand God as Love, we are inclined to devote ourselves to deepening our understanding and furthering our relationship with God. It would be dishonest to do less. The psalmist was fully committed to that relationship and sincerely sought God at every opportunity. As we get closer to God, our lives reflect this new position, and we lead upright lives (B8). We’re determined that nothing can pull us off of our course.

Many things however, do try to pull us off of our course. One’s devotion to God is often looked upon with jealousy, envy, incredulity and even hatred from those that just plain disagree with the prayerful life, and would do whatever they can to stop us. In the story of Daniel he is faced with the prospect of being executed for praying to his God. Daniel was reputed to be so conscientious in his duties that the only way his enemies could ever get him to do anything wrong was to put him in a position that might force him to compromise his devotion to God. If placed in such a position, do you think you would maintain your spiritual stand? Albert Barnes writes regarding this, “It would be well if the religious character and fixed habits of all who profess religion were so well understood that it was absolutely certain that no accusation could lie against them on any other ground, but that their adherence to their religious principles could be calculated on a basis of action, whatever might be the consequences.” In other words, it would be well if all of us had so much devotion to God, that the only way we could be accused of doing anything wrong would be if our devotion conflicted with laws of men. As the story goes, Daniel’s devotion was not a liability but an asset, as God sent His angel to “shut the lions’ mouths” and saved him.

We seldom find ourselves in such a severe situation as Daniel’s but there are times when it seems that there is no way out of potentially life-threatening trouble. In such circumstances, are we tempted to break faith? Or do we, like Daniel, maintain our devotion to God, pressing forward with complete trust? Our Leader tells us that the very circumstance threatening us can be turned into a triumph through Love (S10). She tells us that everything does us good. Whether the potential threat is a lion, tick, flea, mosquito, virus, germ, or a failing business, dwindling funds, hostile bandits, or any hazard we might imagine, the love of Christ is able to deliver us, just as it has throughout history (S11, S12). God created all that exists, and nothing He made is dangerous to another of His ideas. Love wouldn’t allow that, and Love is able to deliver us from every threat that says otherwise.

Section 4: Loving Instruction
While divine Love will support us through any hardship, there are those times in which we willingly stray from Love’s protection. Usually these detours occur when we misunderstand what happiness is, or when we act out of self-interest and devote ourselves toward worldly things rather than toward God. Again, traditional theology may claim that God punishes those who wander, but the punishment and suffering that come with sinning are the fruits of sin, not edicts from God. Love wants us to be saved. According to Barnes, the word “chastenest” (B10) doesn’t mean a sense of affliction or punishment, but rather, “to instruct; to warn; to admonish; to exhort.” These instructions wake us up from sin and bring us back home. The psalmist knows that God will help when he falls.

We’re all familiar with the story of The Prodigal Son (B11). The son behaves very selfishly and, leaving the protection of home, finds himself suffering for his mistakes. When he hits bottom, he finally decides to turn back home. It’s noteworthy that at no point—no matter what the son is up to—does it affect the father’s love for him. The father loves him from beginning to end and rejoices in his return. The father never breaks character—not even to take a moment to “rub it in” or say “I told you so.” The father only loves him and restores everything the son had given up. The son could have reversed his course at any time; the comfort of the father’s love was always at hand. Had he known that, he could have avoided looking in the wrong place for happiness and the consequences that followed. The Christ is always at hand to free us from the bondage of sin (B12).

Our Leader writes, “The design of Love is to reform the sinner” (S13). The “wholesome chastisements” are blessings that bring us to a better sense of who we are (S14). Our textbook says, “Sensualism is not bliss but bondage” (S15). There is a good illustration of this in a current film called “God’s Not Dead.” Several characters in the film have various reasons for turning against God. One of the characters is a hard-nosed businessman and an inveterate sinner and turns against God because his mother had been a good Christian all her life, but still suffers from an incurable disease. The son goes to visit his mother and rants on about how her goodness didn’t get her anywhere. After his rant against God, the mother who hadn’t spoken an intelligible sentence for a long time, very clearly states that sin is like being in a cushy jail cell with the door open. It’s very comfortable and you can leave any time, but if you wait too long the door closes and you’re trapped. Mrs. Eddy admits that sin does cause mortals to suffer, but she adds that when we do decide to wake up, our efforts to be free succeed through Christ’s precious love (S16).

Section 5: Love In the Home
In the story of the Prodigal, the father’s love toward both his wayward son—and the one who stayed at home, (though not part of this Lesson)—was consistent all around, and no doubt, had the story gone into the rest of the home life, the father and mother would be consistent in loving each other as well. Often, we find ourselves being fairly well behaved in public life, but when we are home, we let our guard down and unfortunately do not accord our family members, and especially spouses, the same courtesy we show to others. In Proverbs we find wise counsel in the observation that it’s better to live a modest life in a home filled with love, than to have riches in a home filled with hate (B13). Peter’s direction to love each other with a fervent love (B14) is directed toward the church, but is equally important within the home.

There has been some debate over First Corinthians (B15) whether or not Paul was frowning upon marriage as opposed to the single life, or acknowledging the real need for appropriate attention being given to one’s family despite one’s devotion to God and the church. Rather than compartmentalizing our lives and thinking that we have only a certain amount to give toward church and family, we should bring everything we do—including our family life—under the umbrella of our Christian obligations. We want to be consistent—loving to all, and giving of ourselves in all circumstances. Neither the home, nor the church should suffer for lack of attention.

The qualities mentioned in Colossians (B16) are “cross-platform” and should enhance both home and church life. “Bowels of mercies” is also translated as tenderness and compassion—both essential qualities of spiritual healing to be discussed in Section 7. Notice too, the recurring need for forgiveness as seen in Section 4. Love is the bond that holds everything together. Love doesn’t separate us from anything good, but unites all our activities and relationships in perfect union. The key though, is to put God first. Resolving always to sing unto God, we will walk in our home, with a perfect heart (B17).

The Love that is God is reflected in the love we express (S17). As mentioned in the beginning of this Lesson, all love originates in God. When we are selfish, we have turmoil and conflict. But unselfish love enriches our character and creates ties that cannot be broken (S18). Sometimes, there is stress between home duties and church duties, but our Leader gives us the answer in this remarkable sentence: “Home is the dearest spot on earth, and it should be the center, though not the boundary, of the affections” (S19). There we have it—problem solved. There’s room and time for every right activity. It’s only self-centeredness that brings conflict and stress. Whether we have a lot or a little, it’s the caring that counts. Mrs. Eddy felt married couples can have their own individual interests, but still work together minding each other’s needs and expressing the love of Christ in every avenue of life (S20). We should look deeper than what the eye can see to find true happiness. It may at times, seem contrary to human nature, but we have been seeing from the beginning of this Lesson that love is the key ingredient that lifts us above the brutish animal nature of mortal existence. Love spiritualizes our motives and aims and enriches us, turning us outward and upward to God (S21).

Section 6: When Hope Seems Lost
Love isn’t just something that makes us feel good and helps our lives run smoothly and harmoniously. Love heals. When we are in our darkest hours, and it seems that the grave is staring us in the face (B18), divine Love is ready to save us. When we are in the midst of a challenge, it may seem to us that we are overwhelmed and that we have little hope. Such was the situation as represented by Job. His friends’ responses to his condition represent varying trends of thought on the subject of the question of suffering; still, they do have some nuggets of hope worth considering. Zophar attempts to console Job by ensuring him that once his calamity is passed it will be completely forgotten as if it never happened (B19). It will be like the new day dawning and sweeping away all the darkness.

I can say from personal experience that when facing the darkest hour, God’s mercies are sufficient to save us. In times when we can barely think or pray for ourselves, that Love is there (B20).

In Christian Science, hope is never lost. We can’t find that healing love in material remedies. But we do have divine permission and authority to conquer every discord with Love (S22). Looking to matter for relief from illness is no more successful than looking to sensualism for happiness. We may think we have it for a while. But only Love can meet our need. We can and should encourage those suffering to realize this power and therefore meet disease without fear (S23). The psalmist’s promise that mourning be turned into joy is fulfilled when we allow Love to control our belief of body (S24). Realizing the healing power of Love rejuvenates and renews our faith and strength. It changes our point of view and we find, with the psalmist, that our only aim and satisfaction lie in waking to our true likeness as God’s idea (S25).

Section 7: The Healing Touch of Love
One of the clearest examples of the healing power of divine Love is Jesus’ unparalleled healing work. He was moved with compassion (B21)—he yearned from within to help them. This Christly compassion heals. A specific example is the healing of the leper (B22). We’ve had this story in our Lessons many times before and learned that there were different types of this disease, but leprosy was believed to be highly contagious and that those who suffered from it were not allowed within specified distances of others. Lepers were considered unclean and had to give notice of their presence to warn others to stay clear of them. The man didn’t ask Jesus to touch him, but only to be made clean. Yet Jesus reached out to the man and touched him, breaking all the rules of sanitation and rabbinical law. We can only imagine the wonder that man felt.

Years ago, I was in quarantine for a period of ten weeks. I chose quarantine as an option rather than taking daily doses of medication in the presence of medical authorities while they decided whether or not I had a highly communicable disease. In my situation I wasn’t allowed any visitors in our home, nor could I enter any public or private building. It was a small taste of what it might have been like for this man. I felt at the same time like a prisoner and an outcast. After the ten weeks were over, I was told the tests were negative and I was free again to go wherever I wished. I can’t tell you how much gratitude and love I felt to be back in the places, and back with the people I’d been deprived of. The love I felt for them was overwhelming at times. If I felt overwhelmed by love after ten weeks of quarantine, imagine how the leper felt after probably more than a decade! And what amount of love did Jesus have to accomplish the healing!

Our textbook tells us that divine Love meets every human need (S26).  In this Section we see that the healer needs to feel that love in order to reach the patient. That healing love manifests the “infinite abilities of Spirit.” It was Jesus’ mission to demonstrate this love and reveal its power (S27). We might think that we need to muster that love within ourselves, but it’s not really the product of human effort. It’s getting the human out of the way, and becoming that true reflection of God. Remember, we love because He loves. Mrs. Eddy underscores the fact that “if God heals not the sick, they are not healed” (S28). Many find this hard to accept. But, it is true none-the-less. This isn’t a limitation, but a liberation, for it means that everything can be healed, because God’s love is omnipotent, and nothing can stop it.

Section 8: Loves “Universal Family”
Of course, we have to finish our Lesson on Love with the effect of Love on the largest scale. As in the Responsive Reading, and First Section, we’re reminded that God’s love reaches everyone (B23). Every nation shall come to understand and feel this all-powerful, all-embracing love. Just as sorrow is turned into joy, Love turns weapons into tools and war is no more (B24). The recurring theme here is: that the real motivating factor for all goodness is God, divine Love. A self-centered animal fighting for his own interests is not God’s man, and believing so will never bring peace. “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled.” Man made in God’s likeness reflects unselfishness and love.

“The Bible contains the recipe for all healing” writes our Leader (S29). The only answer is Love. It spiritualizes our concepts of who and what we are, and why we exist—to love (S30). The CedarS Camps theme this summer is “Live 2 Give.”  We can say the way to do that is to “Live 2 Love.” That happens naturally as we replace our personal tastes, longings, and preferences by yielding to God as our only Mind. This happens as we correct the mortal misunderstanding of God as exhibiting manlike traits, with the truth that God is immortal Truth, incorporeal Life and eternal Love. As we replace the human sense of God and personality with the divine sense, we will naturally become more like Him (S31). Thus, we will desire nothing more than to live in that Love as one “universal family.”


[Warren’s P.S. 1: Five lambs loaned from a neighbor are being featured this week in CedarS Bible Lands Park along with the 23rd Psalm that is in this week’s Bible lesson. Watch in our Session 4 Photo Album this week for pictures of CedarS campers, our “little lambs from God”, with the Lewis’ loaned lambs. Also click on the link called "Sheep & Ps. 23 in CedarS BLP" in the upper right corner of CedarS online Met for this week's lesson on Love.  Encouragement is voiced many times each day to our campers to be like normally-sheepish sheep who without question obey their Shepherd's command, even when it is to charge a wolf (fearful thought)-and to so run it off or to trample it!  This is comforting to zippers who can confidently fly 40 feet above our lambs as they zip with a partner to a happy landing in CedarS Bible Lands Park .]


THANK YOU in advance for MAKING A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE GIFT ONLINE,
BY PHONE at 417-532-6699,
OR BY MAIL at:
CedarS Camps, 19772 Sugar Drive, Lebanon, MO 65536
]


[The Met application ideas above are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of studying and applying the Christian Science Bible lessons throughout the year, not just at camp!  YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of possible ways to share Bible Lesson applications with older, as well as younger, Sunday School classes by clicking the "Subscribe Now" button (lower left) at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/ ]


[Additional Director's Note: You can sign up to have these application ideas emailed to you free – by Monday each week in English; or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION: in German, thanks to Manfred and Jeanette; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio, or in Portuguese, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil.  A voluntary French translation by Rodger Glokpor, a Christian Scientist from Togo (West Africa) has been contributed.  Thank you, Rodger and all translators! Go to http://www.cedarscamps.org/ and click "Newsletters" to sign-up for a free translation into these languages.  This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 13-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  (Ask and look for "Possible Sunday School Topics "and "Possible Younger Class Lessons" in emails to follow.) These weekly offerings are 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 "and Sunday School ideas are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way serve as 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 and background as well as new angles (and angels) on the daily applicability of 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 and in a variety of useful formats as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e.B-1 and S-28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "Met" (Metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the Bible (B-1 thru B-26) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-32). 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 the ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.]http://www.cedarscamps.org/videos/

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