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“Dress” for Success! (And work-out the spiritual for it!) PS#3

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, May 11th, 2015

[“Dress” for Success! (And work-out the spiritual for it!) PS#3]
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on:

Mortals and Immortals

May 11—17, 2015

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

[Bracketed italics added by CedarS Director, who’s very grateful for good support already received, with more needed as noted at the end.]

What are you wearing? Why are you wearing it? What we wear can indicate something about our attitude, our job, or status. They say we should dress for the job we want to have. Doing so shows our desire to advance in our field. Sometimes appearance can be deceptive, but whatever the motive, appearance always makes an impression on the observer.

Aside from our apparel, we could also think about what we’re “wearing” in terms of what our outlook is, or how we are feeling. Regardless of our outward appearance what we’re really wearing is what we’re cherishing in thought. Early Christian writings often use clothing imagery as symbols for various virtues and character traits. In II Corinthians (B1) Paul talks about being “clothed upon” with immortality. In the Golden Text, Job is defending himself by declaring that throughout his life he has been clothed with righteousness. In other words, the quality of righteousness was as visible for all to see as the clothing on his back.

In the Responsive Reading, Paul is writing a letter of encouragement to Timothy. He points out that Timothy’s faith is real. It reminds Paul of the faith shown by Timothy’s family. We could conclude that Timothy was “wearing” his faith. Paul reminds him that he can wear this faith with pride, and not be ashamed of it. We could say that the quality of our thought determines the qualities we are clothed in. God doesn’t clothe us with fear, but power, and love, and a sound mind. Our holy work isn’t something we make up on our own. God calls us to this work to carry out His purpose. Christ Jesus is the purest example of what it means to wear one’s faith. Through his unparalleled demonstration, death has been abolished, and immortal life revealed.

Paul is urging Timothy, and all believers to wear their faith proudly and confidently. When we’re wearing our genuine Christian characters, we can be confident that God has ordained us, and given us the authority to successfully carry out our mission, and therefore, to prove our immortality.

Section 1: A Mental Wardrobe Makeover
The Lesson begins with Paul lamenting the burdens of the flesh. The traditional Christian theologians generally take the view that we inhabit our bodies, and that while the body is mortal, what they call “the soul,” or “spirit” of a man will, upon death, be freed and become immortal. Christian Science does not read Paul the same way. Christian Science takes Paul at his word, and embraces the fact that we are indeed already immortal, and that what we call “a body” is not a temporary habitation for an imprisoned soul, but mortal mind claiming to be God’s man.

Those in “this tabernacle” (B1) are those who believe they live in the flesh. Paul is saying that Christians are weary of mortal existence and don’t expect to be “unclothed”—to be souls that die leaving their body behind—but “clothed upon” embracing a spiritual idea of true body and immortal life. It bears repeating that this isn’t dying, but putting on immortality through the understanding of Life. Paul says much the same thing in his First Letter to the Corinthians (B2) when he says not everyone shall sleep (die), but “all shall be changed” (wake up to spiritual existence). This seems much closer to ascending than dying. The key to this “waking” up is putting on immortality. The Ephesians were reminded of this when urged to “put off concerning the former conversation” (their old way of life) the old (mortal) man; and to put on the new (spiritual immortal) man. The metaphor of clothing is employed throughout Paul’s letters, meaning we need to wear, or be clothed in, spiritual thinking. Metaphorically, what we think is what we are wearing. “To be carnally minded” is death, and to be “spiritually minded” is life (B4).

Mary Baker Eddy drew a clear distinction between the so-called mortal and the immortal. To her, immortality could have nothing to do with mortality, nor could God play any part in making man mortal (S1). The belief in mortality is evil and unreal, and “cannot be the outcome of an infinite God, good.” In Christian Science, man isn’t an immortal temporarily housed in a mortal body. The only true man is immortal, and that’s the only man there ever is, or will be (S2). He who believes he’s mortal has but to “blend his thoughts… with the spiritual.” Then the light of truth will dawn, and any tendency to continue thinking as a mortal will drop away. As Paul urged Christians to put off the old man, so Mrs. Eddy insisted that we forsake materially-based thinking, and put it off like an unwanted garment (S3, S4).

Our Leader fully accepts Paul’s view that when the “last trump” sounds the awakening to immortality will happen in an instant. But she reminds us that before that happens we need to begin by consciously disrobing erroneous thoughts and habits, and putting on the garments of true “Christian character” (S5).

She states categorically that mortals and immortals are not the same. Immortals are created in God’s image, and they never leave that immortal state of being. Mortality is only a belief that disappears when man understands his real being (S6). This is a key point: Mortals don’t turn into immortals. And immortals aren’t mystically freed from material fetters. Mortals are unreal from the outset. Immortals are the only true children of God.

Section 2: You Can’t Hide from God
Jonah had a job to do, but he refused to do it (B5). We might say he failed to put on the mantle of responsibility and duty he was given to wear. He was the son of Amittai. Amittai means “truth.” As a son of “truth,” he knew what he was supposed to do, but instead of going to Nineveh, he went the opposite direction. There are various theories as to why he would disobey a direct order from God. According to John Gill (1697—1771) some think Jonah was more concerned for the glory of Israel than the glory of God, and that he disliked the idea of presenting God’s Word to a Gentile population. He may have been afraid that if the heathens of Nineveh would repent, it could make the unrepentant Children of Israel look bad. Whatever the reason, his disobedience was not acceptable, nor could he succeed in evading God’s command.

Have you ever avoided doing something you knew you had to do even though you knew that God was directing you to do it? We find out quickly in such cases that we can’t disobey God and get away with it. In Jonah’s case, a severe storm arises as he is trying to flee. Superstitious mariners often attribute storms and danger to powers beyond them, as in this case where everyone on board prays to whatever god they worship. They also take human footsteps to lighten the ship, in order to keep it afloat. But every human effort fails. Jonah meanwhile, is sleeping (no doubt under the covers). His ability to sleep amidst the turmoil indicates that he is in a stupor induced by a state of willful spiritual denial. The shipmaster finds him, and asks how he can sleep when they are about to sink. Why isn’t he praying like everybody else? Here we have a prophet who was supposed to be delivering a message to one of the most powerful cities in the world being reprimanded by a shipmaster! Sometimes our wake-up call comes from an unexpected source.

Since Jonah is still unwilling to fess up to his disobedience, the crew casts lots in a last-ditch effort to figure out who is responsible for their perilous condition. The lots fall to Jonah and he admits his dereliction of duty, adding that if they threw him overboard, they would be saved. The crew, shocked by Jonah’s disobedience, throws him into the sea, and the storm stops. But Jonah isn’t off the hook. A “great fish” swallows him, and there he spends three days and nights.

Jonah’s story typifies mortal behavior. Most people know the difference between right and wrong, yet they often do the wrong thing anyway. They think they can run from God’s commands, even hide where they think God’s law won’t reach them. But such behavior isn’t natural to God’s man. As mentioned earlier, traditional theology teaches that man is an entity trapped in a material form whose only way to freedom is to escape the body. But, that’s not the real man. The real man never was in a material body to begin with. The real man is God’s reflection (S7).

Irrespective of rank or status—whether part of a sinning society or disobedient prophet—evil will be exposed and defeated (S8). The conflict between good and evil, the real and unreal, the immortal and the mortal goes on both individually and collectively. At length, “Mortal error will vanish in a moral chemicalization” (S9). Mrs. Eddy uses the term “chemicalization” to describe the “upheaval produced when immortal Truth is destroying erroneous mortal belief” (S10).

At one point she likens moral chemicalization to mixing an acid and a base (Science and Health, 401:7-11). A few years ago, I saw the analogy in action when I was neutralizing a container of battery acid with baking soda. The reaction was barely containable. Pouring in the truths of Christian Science causes a reaction in our lives. The net result is healing, renewal, spiritual invigoration, and purification (S11). [See PS#1 for a recent example.] Mortality and immortality are incompatible, and every mortal evil “must disappear to give place to the facts which belong to immortal man” (S12).

Section 3: Sharp Experience Compels Obedience
The psalmist is well aware that man can never be in a place outside of God’s care (B6). [See future PS#2 online.] It’s not that God follows us into, and through a mortal existence; but rather that because we actually live in God, man is immortal, and would cease to exist were we ever separated from Him.

Some feel that Jonah’s three days in the fish’s belly (B7) prefigure Jesus’ three days in the tomb. For the purposes of this Lesson that has some relevance, as Jonah goes into the sea clothed in mortal thinking, and emerges after three days with a much higher view. However we look at it, the three days represent necessary time in a very dark place to accomplish a needed transformation. Jonah says his “soul fainted.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible shows the word “fainted” means to “shroud or to clothe.” From the depths, Jonah prays, acknowledging his need to change his mental apparel, and his call is answered. Jonah’s prayer is symbolic of the deep prayer of repentance that rises from the heart of all who have realized their error, and yearn to reconcile with God. That experience doesn’t leave him where it found him—in the midst of the sea—but brings him safely back to the course God intended for him in the beginning.

Those who have willingly strayed from God’s direction and seen their need for repentance can fully identify with Jonah’s prayer. Our Leader neither avoids “sharp experiences” nor discounts their value (S13). She says that these help us turn from sin. She also points out that it’s comparatively easy to “desire Truth” as opposed to ridding “one’s self of error.” There are no shortcuts to understanding, and practicing Christian Science. We have to strive for it. That means clothing ourselves in righteousness, and forsaking all error. We have to “gravitate Godward” in order to put off sin and mortality (S14). This may seem difficult, but it’s the only way to immortality.

Some may hesitate because they are concerned that letting go of mortal beliefs will deprive them of their individuality. That’s because they think their human personality is who they really are. But the so-called human personality is nothing but a false costume of mortal thinking. We can only find who we really are by “forsaking matter for Spirit” and thus, we’ll reach ranges of thought and of action far beyond any material hope.

We don’t have to do it all in one leap. Even Mrs. Eddy told her students that sometimes it’s better to take two steps to get to the same place than trying with one huge step, and risk falling over. She tells us to “emerge gently from matter into Spirit” (S15). Now again, that doesn’t mean that we are actually in matter at all, but that we need to change our thinking, and demonstrate more spirituality “through better health and morals,” thus proving our immortality. Jonah thought he could end it all to avoid responsibility, but that simply doesn’t work. The only way to peace and immortality is through the understanding and demonstration of Life.

Section 4: The Garment of Repentance
Jonah’s mission was to convince the people of Nineveh to repent. Having admitted his own need for repentance, he was ready to fully undertake his task. Jonah boldly implores the Ninevites to change their ways, or face certain destruction (B8). The people immediately accept the correction, and begin making reparations. Not only does everyone in the city begin to fast, they all put off their garments for sackcloth and ashes. Even the king and his court put off their robes of decadence, and don sackcloth as well—and not only the people, but also their livestock! Sackcloth was usually made of coarse goat’s hair and felt very close to wearing burlap. It was a symbol of repentance that reminded them of the abrasive effect of sin with every move they made..

Clearly these people were exchanging figuratively, and literally, the (thought) garments of luxury for the harsh, uncomfortable fabric of repentance. They fasted from more than food. Albert Barnes (1798—1870) expands on the meaning of fasting:

Let not the mouth alone fast; let eyes too, and hearing and feet, and hands, and all the members of our bodies. Let the hands fast, clean from rapine and avarice! Let the feet fast, holding back from going to unlawful sights! [incl. websites… ] Let the eyes fast, learning never to thrust themselves on beautiful objects, nor to look curiously on others‘ beauty, for the food of the eye is gazing. Let the ear too fast, for the fast of the ears is not to hear detractions and calumnies. Let the mouth too fast from foul words and reproaches.

This is just the beginning of what it means to truly fast. The Ninevites without equivocation, immediately mended their ways, and their city was spared. God’s pardon takes place as soon as the sin is forsaken. Our textbook tells us that the Ninevites’ response to Jonah is how all men would react if they knew their true spiritual source (S16). The opposition to spirituality depends on how deeply we are submerged [or clothed] in erroneous thinking. But the good news is that the resistance will lessen as we grow spiritually. If we want to know how we’re doing, we need to take stock of “where our affections are placed” (S17). We serve what we love, and if we love God more than error, it will be reflected in our actions.

Mrs. Eddy knew that the process of putting off the old man isn’t easy. She encourages patience, but the sooner we start the better (S18). The important part is that we begin working on it no matter where we are. [See PS#3 for a spiritual “workout” as in S18.] It’s most helpful to remind ourselves that as much as material existence seems to be real, we aren’t mortal at all, and we never were. “The real man is spiritual and immortal” (S19). When we understand the Scientific fact that we are immortal, the beliefs of mortality will lose their seeming power (S20). A half-hearted hope that we might gain victory over mortality won’t accomplish our goal. We should take a bold stand, and put on the garment of spirituality with the confidence that comes with spiritual authority.

Section 5: The Garment of Healing
Christ Jesus always wore the “healing garment.” He was motivated by compassion, and brought the power of his holy thought to every circumstance. Multitudes flocked to him in search of healing. In Matthew, we’re told that people sought to touch even the hem of his garment (B9) with the expectation of being healed. The hem spoken of wasn’t actually a hem, as we think of it. In ancient Israel, men wore four cornered tunics with tassels tied to the corners. This garment evolved into the prayer shawl. The tassels were there to remind each Jewish man of his responsibility to fulfill God’s commandments. The tassels were tied into a number of knots representing the laws of Moses and were there as a constant reminder to walk in God’s law (http://www.therefinersfire.org/tallit.htm). [See future PS#4 link and Downloads online.]

While always wearing the mantel of healing, Jesus teaches that we can’t superimpose the new garment of immortality over the old mortal rags (B10). Both parables about the new cloth, and the wine bottles show that we can’t take our new way of living and try to patch it over old habits, or try to put new immortal ideas into old mortal ways of life. As Paul points out, when we come into Christ, we are new creatures (B11). The old ways are completely displaced by the new.

Science and Health uses the clothing metaphor as well. Tradition has it that Jesus wore a garment that was of the highest quality—woven without seams. Of course this symbolized his quality of thought too. We should aim for the same consistency in our lives as we put on our Christly garments (S21). Our textbook also is clear that we can’t walk two different directions at the same time. We have to empty our thoughts of evil and “disrobe error” (S22). We don’t want to hold on to any part of mortality if we expect to succeed in putting on immortality. We have to wear our spiritual natures like a garment, and prove our progress in life-practice (S23).

I was once told a story that there was a practitioner who was doing fantastic healing work, and representatives from The Mother Church went to see her to ask what made her so successful. She replied that she used “The Christ Treatment.” She was referring to Science and Health 369:16 (S24). She knew that there weren’t two lives—a mortal and an immortal—but only one, the immortal. She not only wore the healing garment, but also saw that others wore it too. In Christian Science, it is impossible that matter can be intertwined with mind, resulting in a mortal. The only genuine man is immortal, and is “indestructible and eternal” (S25).

Section 6: Clothed by God
As we’ve said, we can tell a lot about someone by what they’re wearing. Often people want their apparel to signify their status, attitude, position, and intention. But, outward appearances can be deceiving. True or false, whatever one sees always sparks a response of some sort, and ignites an immediate opinion. We’ve been considering the concepts that the thoughts and qualities we entertain about ourselves are like a garment for all to see. When describing qualities of God that the eye can’t see, the psalmist also uses clothing as way to illustrate God’s supremacy and power (B12). The prophet Isaiah extends that line of reasoning to depict the spiritual qualities God imparts to man as clothing as well (B13). God clothes man head to toe with the best robes of salvation, righteousness, and priestly stature for the highest occasions. The Revelator praises God, enumerating seven qualities we would do well to put on ourselves: blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might (B14). Acknowledging these as due to God, we embrace the power that leads us to discern the ultimate gift of eternal life (B15).

While traditional theology starts from the premise of man as a sinning mortal, in Christian Science we start from the premise that man “is, not shall be, perfect and immortal.” However, this will only become evident to us as we give up material thinking and admit “the immortal facts of being” (S26). The “immortal men and women” of God’s creation are “models of spiritual sense” (S27). They’re always wearing the robes of righteousness and garments of healing that transcend outward appearance. We want to clothe ourselves in holy, spiritually enlightened thoughts that radiate the glory of Soul. The light of divine Science penetrates beneath the surface of material vestures under which is the true idea of God (S28). Yielding to this true sense of ourselves, we will allow our Christly garments to clothe us at all times. We often think of this process of putting off the old and putting on the new as a struggle. But, our Leader says we “cannot help being immortal” (S29). Christian Science explains why, and our part is to consciously let go of the old man that claims to be us, and to dress for success by letting God clothe us in righteousness and immortality.


[Warren’s PS#1: Click CedarS 2009 Thanksgiving Met to read (at the end) about my complete healing, renewal, spiritual invigoration, and purification as the result of claiming “the sunshine of Truth” that “Christian Science brings to the body” (S11, 162).]

[PS#2: Psalm 139 (B6) put to music is a traditional camp song (with descant) that CedarS plans to strengthen as a spiritual send-off song to bring divine closure to the end of each session (S18, 254:22). Example link to be found in a future online version of CedarS Met.]

[PS#3: To help focus time and attention on inner “metaphysical fitness” as the basis for outward physical fitness, CedarS hopes to fund and actualize more Bible-based, spiritual “work-out” stations where one can “… work out the spiritual which determines the outward and actual.” S18, 254:22). Strong support for flexible day-by-day demonstrations of this are welcomed at director@cedarscamps.org ]

[PS#4: Downloads and link to be found in a future online version of CedarS Met.]

[PS#5: Click http://christianscience.com/prayer-and-health/inspirational-media/your-daily-lift/5-12-gods-blessing-of-goodness for a "Daily Lift" by Rosalind Fogg. (a CSB from Lake St. Louis, MO) that highlights the Bible story of Jonah and the garment theme of this week's Christian Science Bible Lesson.]


[Bracketed italics added by CedarS Director, Warren Huff, who’s forever grateful for all the good already received and LETTING 3 SPECIAL NEEDS BE KNOWN –
Significant funding is still needed for these special opportunities:
1. It is apparent that getting many to camp will depend on "Love's Provision" of campership assistance. Could you be one of the angels who gives towards camperships and the life-altaring and life-altering experiences they provide at CedarS?]

2. Over 100 needed items are featured on CedarS Giving Tree that could fit the budget of every grateful Met-recipient and camper. You can choose for yourself $1-and-up ways to give to support CedarS needs. Click here to see 2 young alumni tell their reasons to give.

3. Adopt the Herd” Matching Opportunity! Generous donors, aware of the ongoing need to care for CedarS herd, will match donations for our horse program! (~$20k needed to reach $50k goal)]


[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 even monthly support online. Or you can always call the Huffs at 636-394-6162 get information or discuss privately how to transfer securities or other assets to help support and perpetuate CedarS work.]

[You can also reach a member of the Founding family nearly anytime by
PHONE at 636-394-6162
or MAIL your tax-deductible support to our 501-C-3 organization
(Our not-for-profit, Federal Identification Number is #440-66-3883):

The CedarS Camps, Inc.
1314 Parkview Valley Drive
Ballwin, MO 63011

THANKS TO YOU PRECIOUS DONORS FOR YOUR ONGOING, GENEROUS and NEEDED SUPPORT OF CedarS IMPORTANT WORK!


[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/ ]

[For additional "Director's Notes" on the history, development & 4 translations of CedarS weekly Bible Lesson "Mets" go to Notes in our online online version of it.]

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