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Change Your Perspective and Find Peace

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, February 11th, 2019

Change Your Perspective and Find Peace
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

"Soul"
February
11—17, 2019

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

Throughout the years, I’ve found that of all the synonyms Mary Baker Eddy employs for God, Soul is the one people seem to puzzle over the most. Perhaps this is because common usage defines soul as having more to do with man than his Maker. The conventional view is that soul is the intangible essence of an individual that temporarily inhabits a physical body, and that this soul may, or may not, survive the body’s demise. Mary Baker Eddy eschews that notion, and considers Soul as God, never confined in a body. Where does that leave man? In Christian Science man is the expression of God, or Soul. Just as God is our Life, God is our Soul. Our being isn’t in a body, but in Spirit, God.

Admittedly, this view is a departure from conventional thinking. Throughout this week’s Lesson, we have examples that follow a similar pattern. To understand God as Soul requires seeing things from a different perspective. This Lesson helps us do that in a variety of ways. What are some of the attributes of God as Soul? When I was in Sunday School I was taught that the main attributes of Soul were beauty, joy, and harmony. Each of these elements are incorporated in this Lesson. These attributes, expressed in man, bring us a sense of calm assurance, fearlessness, serenity, and peace.

The psalmist was apparently facing a considerable threat when authoring the words of the Golden Text (GT). In joyful anticipation of deliverance from his dire situation, he urgently seeks that state of safety and calm that can only be reached by lifting thought out of the human circumstance, and up to God. [See W's PS#1 to download poems and #1b and #2 for Cobbey Crisler insights on the Golden Text and Responsive Reading.)

I recently saw a video on the Internet that claimed the way to gain this inner peace, is to say, “yes” to whatever situation you’re in rather than trying to fight it by wishing you were someplace else. That IS NOT the approach we learn in Christian Science. In Christian Science, we say, “yes” only to God, and His government. This isn’t a mental exercise to escape reality. No, it’s a spiritual discipline that uplifts us to see what’s going on right now from God’s perspective. The first step in finding that elevated viewpoint of Soul is to get our thoughts out of the morass of frightened, limited, materially based thinking. Most of the time, when things seem to be going well for us, we have no incentive to break free from the mortal picture, so we get lazy. The Responsive Reading begins with a rousing call to shake us from the lethargy of material thinking. John Calvin (1509-1564) writes:

“The prophet, by stirring up himself to gratitude, gives by his own example a lesson to every man of the duty incumbent upon him… If even the prophet, who was inflamed with a more intense and fervent zeal than other men, was not free from this malady, of which his earnestness in stimulating himself is a plain confession, how much more necessary it is for us, who have abundant experience of our own torpor, to apply the same means for our quickening?”

The psalmist calls upon all that is within him to lift his thought above the material picture into active acknowledgement of the Lord. What does it take to “ascend into the hill of the Lord”—into that higher viewpoint? The psalmist tells us the path is open to those who are upright, pure in conduct, and in heart—not only conforming to law and actions externally—but with a heart that inwardly agrees with all that is good. The psalmist doesn’t let himself get mesmerized by falsehoods, neither does he agree with, or voice them. He speaks only the truth.

Having a “pure heart” often brings to mind moral virtue, but we also need to keep our thoughts cleansed of doubt and fear. Though the material picture may seem daunting, when we lift up our heads, and open the doors of our hearts to behold the glory of the Lord, those doubts and fears dissolve.

I learned at CedarS Camps that when riding a horse, if you look down at the trail or bridge the horse is supposed to walk over, you may have difficulty getting the horse to pass over it. You have to look up beyond the obstacle to where you want to go, and then the horse will navigate the challenge easily. It’s the same with our prayer. If we are looking down, transfixed by the problem, we’re liable to get hung up. We need to focus our gaze upward in the direction we want to go. Meekness is an extremely helpful quality in realizing this spiritual viewpoint. To be meek is to be humble, teachable, prayerful, of gentle spirit, and willing to learn.

Being teachable also enables us to let go of personal sense, and be willing to live our lives through God’s direction. Another benefit of aligning with God’s direction is that it enables our “souls” to be at ease. Isn’t that really what we yearn for—being at ease in the full knowledge, expectancy, and surety that God is governing, and that everything is just the way it should be?

Section 1: Magnify the Lord

The psalmist gains that sense of ease through magnifying the Lord, for, “none of them that trust in him shall be desolate” (B1). Some alternate translations of the word “desolate” include, “condemned, punished, or guilty” (Strong’s). The English word “desolate” means, “solitary, afflicted, deserted by God, and deprived of comfort” (Student’s Reference Dictionary). That’s the way we might feel if we let the human picture mesmerize us. The solution is to “magnify the Lord.”

Albert Barnes (1798-1870) tells us, the word “magnify” means, “literally ‘to make great, and then to make great in the view of the mind.” So realizing that God is greater than any challenge in front of us redeems us from the anguish accompanying a mortal viewpoint.

When the psalmist compares man’s apparent insignificance to the magnificence of the stars and heavens (B2), he’s not referring to the perfect man of God’s creating, but rather to enosh—the wretched, mortal man, who lives in an almost constant state of fret, fear, ignorance, and sin. Isaiah, and Jeremiah assure us that God created us for His glory; and God eliminates our fear by giving us full support with His whole heart and Soul (B3, B4).

Our textbook, Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, assures us God is, “the only Life, substance, Spirit, or Soul, the only intelligence of the universe, including man” (S1). Holding our thought to that view, we trust that God will forever maintain us in every situation (S2). We often say that we express God, but notice that man is the expression of Soul (S3). That means God is expressing us. Therefore we are never in matter, and are always safe. As we rise from the false, traditional sense of soul (S4) our immortality will come to light (S5).

Section 2: The Effect of Being on the Mount with God—a Beaming Face [and life]

When we’re tempted to be impressed with life’s challenges, we can pray with the psalmist, looking to God to light our way to a holier, view (B5). We don’t have to fear that God will forget us, or fret that we might be deprived of anything good. God, our great guide and protector, is always supporting us. The Scriptures promise, “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (B6).

God directed Moses to give Aaron a blessing that has become a well-known benediction—“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (B7). Surely such a blessing would put one at ease. Have you ever had someone look upon you with such love and assurance that it warmed your heart from the inside out, and you just felt that everything was right in the world? That is just an inkling of the peace and serenity we feel when we know God is caring for us.

The warmth of knowing and feeling God’s grace would more than likely cause you to beam with happiness and joy. Moses’ face literally beamed with inspiration when he came down from the mount. That’s the way we can be too. Wouldn’t you expect to beam after a visit with God? Well guess what? Your light is come, and “the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee!” (B9, W’s PS).

Mary Baker Eddy notes the metaphorical use of the sun as a representation of God’s constant care and love (S6). The sun shines on all, unaffected by the earth’s rotation (S7). To human sense when the earth goes dark it seems like the sun has gone away, and in like manner, we may feel far from God during challenging times. But it’s all a question of point of view. The sun is always shining no matter what’s happening on earth, and God is always saving and maintaining us no matter what the senses are reporting. Mary Baker Eddy also explains that it seems like the sun is circling the earth, when in fact, the earth is spinning on its axis; similarly, it seems to us that Soul is in the body, when it’s not (S8).

Getting the real picture is about getting the right point of view. No matter what seems to be happening, God, Soul is “unchangeable and eternal” (S9). We co-exist with Soul, and can’t be separated from it. Man isn’t God, but man reflects God (S10). Mary Baker Eddy writes, “If we say that the sun stands for God, then all his rays collectively stand for Christ, and each separate ray for men and women” (My. 344:3–5). Our textbook tells us, “We forever reflect, in glorified quality, the infinite Father-Mother God” (S11).

Section 3: Beauty of Character and of Action

Moses beamed with inspiration on his return from the mount. So it is with us—true beauty—the beauty of holiness—radiates from within (B10). Wouldn’t it be awesome to be recognized, by the beauty of the Lord that beams from you? (B11). The Scriptures indicate meekness to be an essential quality in bringing out that beauty, and peace (B12). Abigail and Nabal illustrate the difference between a person who is meek, and living in the beauty, joy, and harmony of Soul, and one who lives in the selfishness of limited human perspectives (B14).

One’s “name” indicates one’s nature, or character. Abigail means, “My father’s joy.” She had a deep, working understanding of societal grace, civility, and domestic diplomacy, as well as having a high degree of spiritual insight. Nabal means: “fool.” The Bible says, Nabal was “churlish and evil in his doings.” Theologian John Gill (1697-1771) adds to the biblical description saying, Nabal was, “morose and ill natured in the temper and disposition of his mind, and wicked in his conversation, and fraudulent and oppressive in his dealings with men…”

Compare Nabal’s character with that of David. Nabal was totally self-absorbed, living only for his own gain and interests. He must have been very fearful and insecure to be so defensive and greedy. His servants were so put off by him they didn’t even want to talk with him. Instead, they brought their concerns about his ill behavior to his wife Abigail. David had been anointed to be the new king, and he had all that he could ever need, but still, he didn’t exactly lead a trouble-free life.

David had fought many battles and earned his position. On top of that, Saul, the current king, spent a lot of time trying to kill David despite his service to Israel. To be sure, David had to struggle with some of the baser instincts, but his better qualities prevailed. The majority of David’s heroic accomplishments were unselfish, and he clearly had a conscience. Above all, even with several military victories to his credit, he still had enough meekness to be teachable.

The biblical account tells us David sent ten servants to greet and salute Nabal. But Nabal rebuffed the friendly overture, and indirectly snubbed David. When David heard about this his initial reaction was a basic, violent, animal response. It was as if he was saying, “you mess with me, and I’ll mess you up.” After hearing of the incident, Abigail took immediate steps to avoid a bloody conflict. She had to have been spiritually prepared to do this. Her appeal to David’s higher nature and calling was successful largely due to the fact that David was thoughtful enough to reflect upon his actions before making a mistake.

Examining the definition of “meekness” we find insight into the characters of both Abigail and David. Meekness: “softness of temper, mildness, gentleness, forbearance; and humility, resignation, submission to the divine will, without murmuring or peevishness” (SRD). Abigail exhibited the first part of the definition, and David the second.

Abigail and David reflected what Mary Baker Eddy calls, “the beautiful in character,” and the “good in human affections” (S12). Have you ever been in a situation when you were going to do something that was impelled by more of a reaction, or a baser instinct, but then changed your course, and took a higher, more loving approach? Didn’t it feel great? I’m sure David felt much more satisfied by demonstrating mercy, understanding, and compassion, than he would have been if he’d killed Nabal.

Happiness never really comes from following animal passions. Animal passions react instead of respond. These passions include, selfishness, impatience, disregard for others, arrogance, and so on—all of the so-called “lizard brain” instincts rather than the intelligent, measured approach. Mary Baker Eddy states, the good “must have ascendency over the evil…or happiness will never be won.” The only true satisfaction comes from Soul. That may seem somewhat limiting at first. But it’s just the opposite—our textbook declares, “Soul has infinite resources” to bless us (S12).

Though it’s not in the Lesson, even though Abigail’s intervention stopped David from killing Nabal, he still ends up dying as a result of his behavior. As with Nabal’s fate, all animal behavior is self-destructive. Soul, on the other hand, “has no element of self-destruction” (S13). Keep in mind too, that Soul being sinless, is never actually in a material body. Soul only seems to be in the body through a false belief. As long as that belief prevails in our consciousness, we temporarily find ourselves under the influence of that belief. But it’s also important to remember that this false belief isn’t our belief at all. It’s mortal mind telling a lie to itself, and believing its own lie.

Our Leader tells us the “first demand” of Science is to have no other gods before Spirit (S14). That means our only intelligence, life, substance, truth, and love should be spiritual. Following that demand would help us maintain a beautiful character. Just as one keeps their gaze where they want to go when riding a horse, Mary Baker Eddy tells us if we want to build strong character, we have to have good, strong models of thought (S15). If we let those heavenly qualities rule us, the false views will shrink into nothingness.

Section 4: The Healing Power of Music

As we know, it’s not always easy to let those heavenly qualities prevail. Sometimes we seem to get stuck in the material world-view, and just can’t lift our gaze higher. If that’s the case, divine Love always has a way to reach us. Harmony is one of the attributes of Soul, and is perfectly expressed in music. To be sure, not all music is uplifting. In some cases, it can even be intimidating. But when impelled by Soul, music has healing power.

That power was evidenced when David refreshed Saul while playing his harp (B16). The Bible says an “evil spirit from God was upon Saul,” and as David played, the “evil spirit departed.” It’s important to note that God never gives anyone an evil spirit. On the contrary, God sends us mercy and truth to soothe and heal us through whatever avenue we need (B17).

Many have felt the healing power of music. Music is a microcosm of the harmony of the universe. Mary Baker Eddy tells us, “Man is harmonious when governed by Soul” (S16). Our textbook confirms that God never causes discord of any kind (S17). Knowing that inharmony is unreal helps us to see things in their true light (S18). Harmony is always the reality, and discord is the unreality. When faced with discord, or any situation that causes us fear, stress, or concern, our course is to stand firmly for the presence of harmony until harmony is restored (S19). This isn’t a “fake it ‘till you make it” proposition, nor is it simply a mental coping mechanism to get us through a rough patch. It’s realizing the presence of harmony right now as the only reality.

It’s important to understand that even though it may seem like it, neither music, nor sound in general, is actually communicated through the senses. It’s imparted by Soul, and is both received, and recognized through spiritual sense (S20). As we need good models of thought to awaken our true spiritual character, our attitude and outlook will be calm or stormy depending upon what mental melodies we’re giving our attention to.

Our textbook encourages us to let Christian Science replace all discord with divine harmony (S21). To “let” means to, “allow” or “permit” something to take place. It’s not forcing anything, or pushing it through with clenched fists. So if we are going to say “yes” to anything, say, “yes” to the harmony of Soul.

Section 5: Be Open, and Look Up [PS#5-#7 for Cobbey on healings in Mark, B19-21]

While beauty and harmony seem to come to us through the physical senses of sight and sound, it’s really the spiritual senses that discern and understand beauty and harmony. The Bible acknowledges that the faculties of seeing and hearing are from God (B18). In both the healing of the deaf mute (B20), and the blind man (B21) Jesus took them aside from public view, and in both cases, he spat during the process.

Commentators speculate that in both incidents Jesus moved to a private spot in order to avoid attention. It also assured the ones in need that Jesus cared for, and was protecting them. Additionally, pulling them aside could have provided the opportunity for Jesus to more fully direct his attention to the need of the moment. The spittle mentioned in both healings is thought to be a sign of contempt. So we might surmise that Jesus was rejecting laws of heredity, or accident, or whatever claimed to be the cause of these disabilities.

Also, in both cases Jesus gave a command. To the deaf mute he said, “be opened,” and he made the blind man look up. In light of this Lesson’s theme of gaining a higher perspective, all of the elements in these healings make sense. Rather than lingering in the quagmire of material sense testimony, we need to be open to reality, and look upward in order to gain a higher perspective.

Jesus gave hearing to the deaf, and sight to the blind because he knew that the faculties of Soul are spiritual (S22). Our textbook tells us that seeing things in Jesus’ way “resolves the dark visions of material sense into harmony and immortality” (S23). Isn’t resolving those “dark visions of material sense” exactly what we long to do—to hear the voice of Truth speaking to our consciousness, instead of the static and chatter of material thinking? (S24). Our textbook defines “eyes” as “spiritual discernment,” and “ears” as “spiritual understanding” (S25, S26). Neither of these faculties have anything to do with material organs. Spiritual senses are always perfect, and incapable of being lost, or injured. “Neither age nor accident can interfere with the senses of Soul, and there are no other real senses. It is evident that the body as matter has no sensation of its own, and there is no oblivion for Soul and its faculties” (S27).

If we look at the world from a material perspective, we will inevitably find discord. But seeing discord doesn’t mean it’s real (S28). When we open our ears to hear the voice of God, and open our eyes to see the good God is doing, harmony is restored.

Section 6: Bask in the Glory

The psalmist doesn’t depend on physical sense testimony to either indicate or dictate his outlook (B23). Looking to God alone, He lifts his soul—his essence, and inner being—to higher things, and recognizes Soul as the identity, and source of all that exists. How can he not praise and glorify God?

Seeing the beauty, joy, and harmony of Soul in spite of the challenges of the human situation, we will radiate with divine tranquility and peace, just as Moses did (S29). In Christian Science all praise and glory go to God (S30). Our Life, and our Soul is God. There’s only One Soul, God—infinite, outside of time and space. Mary Baker Eddy states plainly, “Man is the reflection of Soul” (S31). Remember a reflection is not only like the original; it exists in the original—in eye of the observer.

As God’s reflection, we are what God is seeing—we are His idea. If that’s the case, how can we continue sloshing around in depressing, disturbing human perspectives? Let’s lift up our soul to the Lord, ascend that holy hill, let our beautiful character shine, and dwell in the serenity and peace God’s glory.


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CedarS 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. 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/meta

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