The Words of the Child Family
Stephen Child with his wife and son.
The last couple of months I've been teaching Sunday school at a church in Brooklyn, New York. Hiroshi Goto, founder of Fort Greene Home Church Association, helped me make this connection through a home church contact of his. I've been working with four other teachers there. The students in our group range in age from 2 to 11.
After Sunday school I attend the Sunday service. I like to attend the Sunday service because it gives me an opportunity to meet the children's parents, and talk to them about what we're doing in Sunday school and especially how their child is doing. Through attending the service I also support the minister. But the most important reason is to set the example for the children themselves to attend Sunday service. How would it look if the Sunday school teacher, after teaching Sunday school, just left and didn't go to service? All the children would follow!
I'm very grateful for the chance to teach at this church. Through this experience, I have come to feel some of the intense love God has for little children, and I can understand how much Jesus was trying to convey when he lifted up the child before his disciples and the crowd, in Mark 10:12-16:
People were bringing their little children to him to have him touch them, but the disciples were scolding them for this. Jesus became indignant when he noticed it and said to them, "Let the children come to me and do not hinder them. It is to just such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I assure you that whoever does not accept the reign of God like a little child shall not take part in it' Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.
Most people feel that this parable is just trying to show us some wonderful qualities that children have, and how we should be innocent and trusting like a child in order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. But there's a lot more to it than that. Father and Son
Picture this image in your mind's eye: Jesus "embraced"; this means he hugged the child! In other words, Jesus lifted the child up, as a father hugs and lifts up his very own child whom he loves. Jesus held the child up so that his disciples and the crowd could see.
But at this moment, the disciples didn't really understand who Jesus was, or what Jesus was all about. In a sense, they just saw details, a string of miracles and healings. The Bible says that the disciples were always "spellbound and amazed by his teaching and power!'
The disciples just saw the power of Jesus. So that's why they scolded the people and told the children to go away and not bother Jesus -- because this powerful man was too busy for that.
When Jesus overheard them doing this, he was indignant, and he rebuked them. Then Jesus held up for them the whole message of his existence, the center principle of all the universe. When Jesus lifted up the child before them, he was holding up the very image and symbol of the father-son relationship.
Jesus himself was the son of God and God was his father. By the advent of Jesus, God was holding up His son before the whole world, and saying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased."
Jesus didn't want the people to just get hung up in details, and see only Jesus alone. He wanted to show the world the big picture -- the image of God as a father holding up his little son Jesus in his hands
The revolutionary and unique feeling that Jesus had, the very feeling that elevated him so far above all others, was that Jesus had this parental love toward a child he had never seen before. To Jesus all those who did the will of his Heavenly Father were his children. He wanted to show us that God is the center of the family. And that makes all of us brothers and sisters, or mothers and fathers, or children, to each other.
How much do we have the feeling that God is our father and that others, even apparent strangers, are our brothers and sisters? How often do we see people as our own mother and father if they are older than we are, or as our children if they are younger than we arc? How deeply we feel this love towards others, best exemplified by the father son love, is what will determine our heaven or hell.
Another thing 1 gained through teaching Sunday school was that I could come to feel the anguish of God about the situation of the world today.
During class one Sunday, Mike, who is 11 years old, asked me a question. He asked me to show him where God is.
Mike said that his friends had asked him the same question, and they made fun of him when he couldn't give them a good answer. Mike had tried to tell them something like, "Look at the creation. Who made it? That proves there is God': But his friends were all prepared for that kind of answer, and they simply said that creation "just happened And concerning evil, they said evil was just a "part" of creation -- "as is"
I felt so sad when I heard this. I thought to myself, "Everywhere the sovereignty of God is being questioned, being attacked. Even little children are victims of these attacks!'
Michael's mother was one of the other Sunday school teachers. It meant that even his own mother, a Christian and a teacher, couldn't answer her own son. I saw that Christianity had become so weak and confused.
I began to realize why an atheistic ideology such as communism was spreading so quickly all over the world. People are hungry for answers to their questions, and when Christianity fails to answer, the Marxist-Leninists are right there, supremely and smugly self-confident in their answers. How anguished God must feel about this! What about His people? Where are their answers?
I reflected on something else. Of all four Sunday school teachers, I had been the only one to show up consistently, every time. For every class it seemed at least one of the teachers didn't show up. And one time, the teacher who was scheduled to actually lead the class for that Sunday didn't show up! It means Christians just aren't investing themselves into their Christianity.
Why weren't Christians doing any better than atheists? I felt so ashamed of this.
I realized America wasn't so far away from that kind of atheism and humanism that is spreading all over the whole world like a forest fire. I realized that there is a growing element of people in America who consider that America is doing fine, that it needs no savior, no morality, no God. These are the people that tell us that pornography is no problem, you're free not to look at it; that abortion is no problem, you're free not to have one; that sending elderly parents away to "homes" is no problem, it's most humane; that free love is no problem, it's only harmless play; that divorce and broken marriages are no problem, it's natural to "grow" out of relationships. I realized these kinds of attitudes have just taken over America.
We've really lost our moral sense. If children are asking, "Where is God?" it means that the parents don't have the answer. It means also that the churches are not giving the parents the answer, either.
About three or four weeks ago, while I was meeting members of the church after the service, an elderly woman named Mildred came up to me and introduced herself. Mildred is 83 years old, and is the senior member of the church's Board of Trustees. She had noticed me coming to the service every Sunday as the new Sunday school teacher, so she wanted to meet me. After introducing herself, and making me feel pretty good by telling me about all the good reports she had gotten about me, she asked, "Do you belong to a church?"
I got the feeling that she was leading up to something, so I said, "Yes. I'm a member of the Unification Church!'
She said, "Unification Church! But isn't that Dr. Moonie?"
To which I replied, "Yes!'
Astounded, Mildred exclaimed, "Do you mean they let you out?"
Mildred, still incredulously, went on, "Do you mean you can go to other churches?"
"Yes!' I replied.
Upon reflection it actually did seem odd. Why was I there? Why would any minister push the members of his congregation to go out to other churches? Mildred had a right to be so surprised.
But I asked myself, "What are we doing in the churches? Why are we in here?" We should be out there -- in our neighborhoods, in the homes of the people that are hungering and searching so much for answers. We should be teaching them, loving them, and serving them.
Home church is where we can do our best to bring God into each home, the very place where God should be, and wants to be. We should serve to strengthen and resurrect the churches in the neighborhood, too, for they have been there, trying to love and serve God as much as possible, long before we got here. In home church we can help others understand God's nature more deeply, so that they can come into a real and loving relationship with God.
If we enter into people's homes and share with them True Father's insights about making a relationship with God, then that home can become God's home. That home can become our church. And that's the church where we should be. We're not really supposed to be in a church building but in the neighborhoods where we live, each home of each family.
That is our church. That is our home. That should be the object of our love, devotion, and service. If we can do this, the yearning in God's heart can be satisfied.