A giant road grader. An exact replica of a John Deere backhoe. A bag of hardwood building blocks, complete with beveled edges. It was such a happy scene -- presents for a child on a special occasion. Yet the occasion stirred my thought deeply. What is the best gift an adult can give to a child? ``What is the bottom line concerning gifts?'' I thought. ``Spiritual treasures'' was the answer.
A week later the backhoe's arm looked a bit overextended, several blocks were missing from the block set, and someone had left the road grader out in the rain, with a bit of rust as the result.
The rust turned my thought to something Christ Jesus said about treasures: ``Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.'' 1
We might think of ``treasures in heaven'' as spiritual understanding and love of God. Nothing could be more lasting to a child than a working knowledge of his or her Father-Mother, of the Love that holds its creation in perfection. Such a spiritual foundation promotes the normal, healthy growth of a child and ensures continued progress.
Where can parents discover such knowledge? And how can they ``give'' it to their children?
For many centuries individuals of all races and nationalities have found such knowledge in the Bible. Parents have cherished Biblical stories and verses as among the most important things they can pass along to their children.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and author of its textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, makes many references to a richness in her own childhood gained from a solid grounding in what the Bible teaches about God. ``From Puritan parents,'' Mrs. Eddy says, ``the discoverer of Christian Science early received her religious education. In childhood, she often listened with joy to these words, falling from the lips of her saintly mother, `God is
able to raise you up from sickness;' and she pondered the meaning of that Scripture she so often quotes: `And these signs shall follow them that believe; . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.' '' 2
The God that is able to raise you and me and our children up from sickness is the one divine Parent -- always present, all-powerful Love. God and man exist in perfect harmony, and in this perfection is no sickness or pain or loss.
Nothing communicates the wonder and power of God's love to man so completely as the Biblical accounts of Christ Jesus' ministry. No more valuable gift could a parent give a child than to open to him the story of what Jesus did and said.
Jesus' calming of the storm at sea and his escape from the mob that would have killed him illustrate the protection from physical danger that God's love provides. The healings of the nobleman's son and of Jairus's daughter demonstrate convincingly to children that the truth of God can heal every bodily hurt. Jesus' parable of the one lost sheep that is found teaches a child that he or she can trust God completely when lost or confused.
In the Sermon on the Mount,3 Jesus gives parents and children some indispensable spiritual guidelines that confer blessing. This blessedness is a joy that goes far beyond simply being chipper. Obedience to the Master's teachings confers a spiritually based happiness that lasts, that doesn't bob up and down with material hopes and disappointments. We're blessed through our peacemaking, meekness, and mercifulness. Jesus acted with meekness and as a healer because he understood himself to be the expres sion of God's perfect being.
In order to help their children gain an understanding of God, parents can work through prayer to understand more thoroughly their own identity as His child. And what they are learning about God can be expressed in purified actions toward their children -- softened words, more patient judgments, deeper kindness. They can choose the right moments to talk to children about the truths of God and man, including the message of Jesus' life. The teachings of Christian Science, shedding light on the Bible's h ealing message, are invaluable in grounding a child in an understanding of his or her divine heritage.
The inspired message of the Bible is something that a parent can give freely, that will last forever. It is first among gifts to our children. 1 Matthew 6:19, 20. 2 Science and Health, p. 359. 3 Matthew, chaps. 5-7.