ROUNDING the corner on a recent walk, I came upon a pleasant scene -- neighborhood children playing peacefully on the quiet street, enjoying the day in ways so natural to them, and showing how lovable children can be. But what of those children who wake up to hunger, drug addiction, immorality, hopelessness? Many children worldwide face such unacceptable conditions. Confronting the great need of our youth, a world leader speaking at the United Nations' 1990 World Summit for Children was quoted in this newspaper as commenting, ``Our love for our children ... should be on our minds 24 hours a day.'' In the context of Christianity, such twenty-four-hour love is natural, and it is the one response that can initiate the a ction needed to heal the harsh conditions faced by so many of the world's children.
Christ Jesus showed how effective active love can be. He taught that love for God and man is literally the fulfillment of divine law. In obedience to this law of love, he healed the sick, fed the hungry, and raised the dead. And children were often the beneficiaries of his healing. He would not allow them to be pushed to the fringes of his ministry but brought them right to the center of it, as we read in Mark's Gospel when Jesus instructed his disciples, ``Suffer the little children to come unto me, an d forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.''
Learning to love children in the way the Master taught and exemplified gives us not only the compassion to recognize the urgent needs of children today but the wisdom to help them. Because the Christlike love we express has its source in God, who is divine Love, it transcends the boundaries of nationality and reaches out to children in need wherever they are. Based upon man's inseverable relationship to God, such love isn't merely passive affection but is the starting point for strong healing action.
Early in our family experience, we decided as responsible parents that we would try to let our attitudes and actions in raising and disciplining our children be impelled by the love that stemmed from our growing understanding of God. As we were successful in doing this, we found that remarkable things happened. Injuries and diseases were healed, family interactions were smoother, and when the children were old enough to start making their own decisions, these were based more often on good judgment and i ntelligence. As our family's expression of love grew through the years, we found it reaching out to include others. And gradually we saw improved conditions in the neighborhood, as well.
As grateful as we are to see happy children in our own families and those of our friends and neighbors, we are still working to extend our love and care beyond the familiar circle and gather into our prayers all children everywhere. Such prayer is actually deep, unceasing, compassionate love that persistently acknowledges God as the very source of love and keeps a receptive heart open to an increasing understanding of the universal power of love. It replaces indifference with compassion, helplessness wi th Christly dominion, and neglect with willingness to act.
Because all children everywhere are truly the children of God, their rights are God-ordained. Christian Science champions those rights and teaches that they are demonstrable in proportion to our willingness to express genuine, powerful love. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes in Miscellaneous Writings: ``We should measure our love for God by our love for man; and our sense of Science will be measured by our obedience to God, -- fulfilling the law of Love , doing good to all; imparting, so far as we reflect them, Truth, Life, and Love to all within the radius of our atmosphere of thought.''
Nothing can prevent us from cherishing children with prayerful love and hope for them. Such prayer reveals practical solutions and puts love into action. To a hungry child, nothing is more pressing than being fed; to a child alone, nothing has higher priority than being loved. Loving children supports the efforts of world governments to do what they must to raise the standard of living for children. And ultimately it does the most remarkable thing of all -- it awakens children to their own great worth a s God's children.
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At the same time came the disciples
unto Jesus, saying,
Who is the greatest
in the kingdom of heaven?
And Jesus called a little child unto him,
and set him in the midst of them,
and said, Verily I say unto you,
Except ye be converted,
and become as little children,
ye shall not enter
into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself
as this little child,
the same is greatest
in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoso shall receive
one such little child
in my name receiveth me.