Lost innocence. It's been a theme in literature for centuries. While the story may be as comic as Huckleberry Finn, a tale of lost innocence -- particularly of childhood innocence -- carries an undertone of tragedy. When lost innocence is the theme of nightly news -- children exploited for pornography, teen-agers living on the streets as prostitutes -- the tragedy is not poetic. It's a call to action.
None of us would disagree that children, the citizens of the future, deserve a good start. They ought to have a decent home, nourishment, education, safety. Some effort is being made to extend this foundational support to as many children as possible. But is that all we can do?
Consider, for example, what kind of world children would have if each adult defended not only the innocence of children but his or her own innocence as well. What would happen to corruption, crime, violence, infidelity, if each of us saw our childlikeness as something to treasure, to cultivate, to defend?
Some may argue that we cannot, or may not even want to, prevent the loss of innocence. Yet there is good reason to believe that innocence is one of the most powerful energies in thought and life. Innocence and childlikeness, understood in their truest sense, are a citadel and peak of vision, worth cherishing at any age.
The best example of the power of innocence is Christ Jesus. In his crucifixion and resurrection we find the ultimate triumph of purity. He had accomplished healing work unrivaled by anyone before him. Yet when put on trial , he gave no defense in the face of trumped-up charges.
A comment he made to his disciples may explain his response. "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." n1 For Jesus, innocence was the invulnerable citadel of his spiritual nature. He knew from experience that he was innocent not just of the Jews' charges but of mortality, of whatever would tie him to the lock step of a material world with its power struggles, its madness, violence, sensuality. This innocence of mortality -- innocence that was his God-given birthright -- made death itself powerless.
n1 John 14:30;
This is the innocence Jesus recommended to Nicodemus when he told that questioner to be born again. This is the childlikeness that has constant access to the kingdom of God. This is the innocence we owe ourselves and all children.
To defend our innocence, we need to educate ourselves about our true, spiritual nature. We need to reject the world's shallow view of innocence and find the penetrating wisdom of true childlikeness. Human thought has settled too long for the second best that the prince of this world offers -- that limited, hands-tied power that calls physical sensation love, violence strength, and physicality man.
In her discovery of the Science, or divine laws, behind the life and teachings of Jesus, Mary Baker Eddy confirms the empty deception of this false prince and its worldliness. "God is not the creator of an evil mind," she notes. And she adds, "We must learn that evil is the awful deception and unreality of existence."n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m p. 207
Little by little we can prove in Jesus' way that the prince of this world has nothing in us or on us. In our genuine being we, like the Master, are innocent of mortality. We are God's own spiritual likeness. As we turn to God in search of our true childhood in Spirit, we'll experience spontaneity, protection, and the vision promised to the pure in heart.
This purity and innocence will not take us out of society, make us distant from others, or spoil our joy. It will make us a vital resource to our communities. Mrs Eddy, who founded this newspaper and the Church that publishes it, told some of her Church members of her vision for those who cultivate their spiritual innocence: "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. You need also to watch, and pray that you preserve these vitues unstained, and lose them not through contact with the world. What grander ambition is there than to maintain in yourselves what Jesus loved, and to know that your example, more than words, makes morals for mankind!" n3
n3 Miscellaneous Writings,m p. 110.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE A virgin shall co nceive, and bear a son. Isaiah 7:14