"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 defines the word atonement in this way: ""the exemplifying of man's oneness with God." It also gives these definitions of atone: "reconcile, to make amends, expiate" -in other words, to set right or harmonize, and thus dispel strife. Jesus' mission illustrated as well as embraced the concept of man's inherent oneness with God, somewhat like the inseparability of a ray of light from the sun. He declared: "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30) -not one and the same thing, but at one or inseparable.

It is a misuse of his words that has led to the theological mistake of identifying Jesus as God rather than an expression of the divine, as proved in his resurrection from the cross and grave. His brief ministry gave abundant proof of the power and grace that accompanies a clear sense of mankind's inherent Godlikeness, but also a warning of the intense animosity that arises from a mistaken view of man as "a miserable sinner" doomed to an eternal separation from the divine.

When questioned by a scribe regarding the first of all commandments, Jesus replied: "The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength ... " He added: " ... the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." For us, as for the scribe, if we know and strive to live in accord with these commands, we will be "not far from the Kingdom of God." (See Mark 12:28-34)

Mary Baker Eddy puts it this way: "Atonement is the exemplification of man's unity with God, whereby man (mankind) reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 18:1-3) This is not mere theory, she insists, but "the divine Principle of all real being" which Jesus taught and practiced. (S&H 26:28-32)

She also points out that Jesus' statement: "I and my Father are one" does not mean that Jesus was God but was inseparable from His divine source. She writes: "As a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun, even so God and man, Father and son, are one in being. The Scripture reads: "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being." (S&H 361:9-19) She insists that Jesus' healing power and that of his disciples came from their oneness with God.

She writes: "The scientific unity which exists between God and man must be wrought out in life-practice, and God's will must be universally done." And she quotes Jesus' statement: "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (S&H 202:3 and 442:26-28) She reminds us of Jesus' statement: "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." (Mark 10:15-17) It is an unquestioning, childlike faith in God that Jesus loved in little children, and that we all need to assimilate.

We too want to be free from wrong and receptive to right! (S&H 236:28-29) Moreover, we want to keep Jesus' teaching-to abide in his doctrine, and thereby prove our own unity with God. Mrs. Eddy reminds us that "While we adore Jesus ... yet (he) spares us not one individual experience, if we follow his commands faithfully; and all have the cup of sorrowful effort to drink in proportion to their demonstration of his love, till all are redeemed through divine Love." (S&H 26:1)

She adds: "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 19:17-24)

What we need to be rid of the "belief that man is separated from God" and obey "only the divine Principle, Life and love." (S&H 91:5) To be "fit for the kingdom of God" there can be no looking back. To have part in the at onement with Truth and Love, we must "gain a little each day in the right direction" until we finish our course with joy." (S&H 21:9-14)

Like the Revelator, we too can realize that God is ever with us as His blessed child, and thus "become conscious, here and now, of a cessation of death, sorrow, and pain." This, she writes, "is indeed a foretaste of absolute Christian Science." (S&H 573:13)

Jamae van Eck