THE news media bring us sometimes shocking images of children--little ones dying of starvation in Somalia and other troubled lands, slightly older youngsters endeavoring to get out of war zones in such areas as Bosnia and Herzegovina. And even in more developed areas, such as the United States and Europe, opportunities for children, especially teenagers, are often very limited.
To ignore these conditions is, in a sense, to neglect the world's future. Yet finding solutions that really address the deep-down needs isn't easy.
One method that brings inspired answers is prayer. Turning to God in prayer frees us from being overwhelmed by the material details--by the hopeless conditions, the distance between the people and help, the intensity of the need. Through prayer, we open our thoughts and hearts to God, who is infinite Love, and if we really listen, we can hear Love's answer for each one of us.
Prayer also reminds us of the true nature of man, and of children specifically. Rather than look upon children as little mortal beings who are doomed to limitation, suffering, or even death, we can see them with the unselfish love that Christ Jesus had. The Master saw very clearly that man is in fact spiritual and inseparable from God, his Father. Through his healing and teaching work, Jesus showed people that they were not destined to suffer from sickness and sin but could be freed by gaining a deeper u nderstanding of God.
Jesus found in children a wonderful illustration of man's unity with God as well as of his innate purity and innocence. In Matthew's Gospel in the Bible, Jesus speaks specifically of the importance of loving children. He says, ``Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."
On other occasions, the Master brought out the genuine goodness that is so obvious in children and that is also part of your true, spiritual nature and mine. In essence we are all children of God, no matter what our age. So when we despise or neglect children, to some extent we are ignoring the spiritual qualities that are in reality also part of our identity. And when we do this, we are lessening our view of our potential; we are ignoring our own direct access to God as His son or daughter.
In her book Miscellaneous Writings, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, refers to the value of maintaining our childlikeness. She is speaking to adults when she says, ``Beloved children, the world has need of you,--and more as children than as men and women: it needs your innocence, unselfishness, faithful affection, uncontaminated lives."
While not all of us may feel we have ``uncontaminated lives," we can pray right now to perceive our true and untouched innocence, which is fundamentally spiritual and can never be lost. Wrong behavior, cynicism, fixed opinions about the past, the present, or the future can give way through prayer. Such change isn't necessarily easy at first, but our progress will come more surely as we understand that our true being naturally includes joy, intelligence, freedom, and love.
These are the qualities that God, our Father, has bestowed on us from the beginning. They can never be lost. But when we are blinded by material conditions and human pressures that sometimes close our eyes to God, we cannot see those God-given qualities. The cleansing, restorative action of prayer eliminates negative elements and other accretions of age that have nothing to do with our inherent purity. And if we stick firmly to recognizing man's spirituality and live in accord with it, we will find our c hildlike innocence again.
Is adopting this worldview naive? Well, consider the life of Christ Jesus. With all the enemies he had, including one of his own disciples, wouldn't he have been justified in having a pretty dim outlook toward mankind? Yet he never turned from his certainty that purity and innocence are victorious, even over death itself.As we pray for the children of the world, embracing our own childlikeness, let's turn wholeheartedly to the power of Christ, Truth, that Jesus represented. This power brings forth the an gels that ``behold the face of [our] Father which is in heaven." It opened the tomb for Jesus, and it will make a vital contribution to saving the children.
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Now is the
Son of man glorified,
and God is glorified in him. . . .
yet a little while I am with you. . . .
A new commandment I give unto you,
That ye love one another;
as I have loved you,
that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know
that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love one to another.
John 13:31, 33-35