AS today's paper reports, 1994 has been designated as the International Year of the Family. Perhaps we can observe this best by meeting some of the desperate needs of the world's children, who deserve our love.
This point was poignantly expressed by a teenager during a television interview I saw not too long ago. She declared, ``They call the youth `lost.' If we're lost, find us, and help us out!''
What we can do to find those ``lost'' children and help them is beautifully described by Christ Jesus. His ministry included children. When his followers tried to keep children from him, he scolded them and used the occasion as an opportunity to tell them how important it is to be childlike in one's own relationship to God. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, comments on Jesus' love of children in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes: ``Jesus loved little children because of their freedom from wrong and their receptiveness of right'' (p. 236).
But what about the world's troubled children? How can our prayers help them? The first step may be to realize that no one can ever be cut off from God's power, because God, divine Love, is omnipresent Spirit. No one is beyond redemption. Christ Jesus proved this over and over as he enabled both the dishonest and the immoral to give up their wrongdoing and to live purer lives.
Praying to see all children everywhere as receptive to God, good, may lead to a change in our own attitudes also. Perhaps fear or frustration about our own or others' children has hardened our hearts and made us feel that conditions are hopeless. We can disarm these hardened feelings by claiming our own uncontaminated childlikeness. This is the reality because all of us are offspring of the one divine Father whom Jesus taught us to know and love. So we can never lose our purity or our childlikeness. It follows that wrongdoing is no more natural to an adult than it is to a child since we are all under God's care.
As we pray in this way, we are aligning our thoughts with Christ, the true idea of God that is central to Jesus' teachings. This approach will open our eyes to any hardness of heart that we may have entertained. It will also help us to find opportunities to express love toward children, even if only in small ways.
This transformation in thought is similar to the saving work that Christ Jesus himself spoke of when he described his ministry as being like that of a good shepherd who faithfully looked after his sheep. He declared, as we read in John's Gospel: ``I am the door of the sheep. . . . The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd'' (10:7, 10, 11). To follow in the footsteps of ``the good shepherd'' is to know that God's love is meant for all and that no child can ever be cut off from his or her loving Father-Mother God. Each child can receive the guidance of infinite Mind, can do what is right and refuse to do wrong. Each child can feel the peace, love, and stability that come continually from knowing God as his or her divine Parent.
God never knows children as lost, because they can never be separated from Him. As we pray and affirm that Christ, the true idea of God, is always speaking to us, we will find that neither our children nor our own childlike nature is lost. The change in us that comes as a result may well lead us to take some specific action on behalf of children. More than this, our prayerful efforts will reach out to the ``lost'' youth of the world and bring them home--to a realization of God's unfailing care of them.