"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32

Thought for the Week - last week's message 

DOCTRINE OF ATONEMENT 

Webster’s gives this definition of the word atone: “to reconcile, to expiate or make amends.”  This week’s lesson makes plain that Christ Jesus’ mission was to illustrate the oneness of God and His idea, man.  How we best demonstrate this oneness was illustrated by the Way-shower and involves self-immolation or renunciation. 

But the way is also explained at length in the textbook of Christian Science:  Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy.  Although others may illustrate in practical ways this oneness with our Maker, no one can do it for us.  She writes elsewhere:  “Self-renunciation of all that constitutes a so-called material man, and the acknowledgment and achievement of his spiritual identity as the child of God, is Science that opens the very flood-gates of heaven, whence good flows into every avenue of being, cleansing mortals of all uncleanness, destroying all suffering and demonstrating the true image and likeness.” (Miscellaneous Writings 185:7-16)   

Why do we “glory in tribulations” or in the challenges we face?  Because they work in us “patience, experience, hope,” as well as the love of God which is “shed abroad in our hearts.” (Romans 5: 3-5)   The lesson makes plain that we’re not here to condemn the world but to save it.  How do we do that?  By setting an example of man’s at-one-ment with God.   That’s just what Jesus did, illustrating by his life and teachings our oneness with our Maker.   Does this involve self-immolation?  Yes.  Does it involve doing God’s will as best we understand it?  

Yes.   Here’s how Mrs. Eddy puts it:  “Every pang of repentance and suffering, every effort for reform, every good thought and deed, will help us to understand Jesus’ atonement for sin and aid its efficacy;  but if the sinner continues to pray and repent, sin and be sorry, he has little part in the atonement—in the at-one-ment with God,--for he lacks the practical repentance, which reforms the heart and enables man to do the will of wisdom.” (S&H 18:17-24)   As we know, Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane was “…not my  will but thine be done.”  (Luke 22:42)   

Despite the betrayal of Judas, when one of Jesus’ followers in an effort to defend the Master cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest, Jesus immediately healed the man.  While Jesus rebuked error whenever necessary, he always gave to humanity the true sense of Love.   Again, to quote Mrs. Eddy:  “Love must triumph over hate.  Truth and Love must seal the victory over error and death, before the thorns can be laid aside for a crown, the benediction follow, `Well done, good and faithful servant’ and the supremacy of Spirit be demonstrated.”  (S&H 43:32)   

Had God ever forsaken Jesus?  No.  Can the original ever forsake its image?  No.  We understand that “The real cross, which Jesus bore up the hill of grief, was the world’s hatred of Truth and Love.” (S&H 50:30-31)  But we also understand, through his example, that “both sin and suffering will fall at the feet of everlasting Love.” (S&H 23:7-11)    What is the “doctrine” of Christian Science?”  That “divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object;  that joy cannot be turned into sorrow…that good can never produce evil;  that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death.”  (S&H 304:9)  

Yes, “we must have trials and self-denials, as well as joys and victories, until all error is destroyed.” (S&H 39:8-9)    We too can experience resurrection, which Mrs. Eddy defines as “Spiritualization of thought;  a new and higher idea of immortality, or spiritual existence, material belief yielding to spiritual understanding.” (S&H 593:9)   What is a “dying error?”  To believe that we have existence or mind separate from God.  What Jesus demonstrated for humanity was and is our at-one-ment with God as well as the “supremacy of Truth over error, Life over death, and good over evil.”  (S&H 406:20-25)  

We too can and must ascend out of the belief in material mortality.  We can turn away “from material sense and look towards the imperishable things of Spirit.”  Gaining a little each day in the right direction, we will finish our course with joy.  (S&H 21:9-14)  Then we too will prove Truth and Love to be “the resurrection and the life.”   (S&H 21:9-14)     

Jamae van Eck