Children—Our Hope for Humanity’s Future?
"Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."—Jesus (Mark 10:14)
After all, Jesus loved little children because of their simple trustfulness, purity and honesty. He compared them to those who would naturally love to be a part of the Kingdom of his Father
The innocent child—not too harmed genetically or environmentally—is most likely to believe Jesus’ every word just as they would trust implicitly the parent’s wisdom and power. In reality, it has been truly said that the education of a child should begin a hundred years before it is born. Wholesome parental influences are potent agencies in the formation of character
Samuel, Prophet & Judge—Dedicated before Birth
The Prophet Samuel was the son of godly parents—a child desired and requested of the LORD—with a solemn covenant that should it be granted, he would be dedicated to God. (1 Samuel 3:1-13) As he grew up, Samuel devotedly served the High Priest Eli.
The High Priest Eli himself was a servant of God in the Tabernacle—and a parent. But sadly, Eli failed to discipline in his own sons in their corrupt and depraved behavior (1 Samuel 2:12-36). The consequences were tragic and fatal. The consistent training of sons and daughters is essential.
David, the Young Shepherd, Chosen to be King
Years later when the LORD instructed Samuel to anoint a new king over Israel, God told Samuel He would select one of the sons of Jesse in Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:1-13). After none of the seven sons Jesse presented to Samuel were approved of God for anointing, Samuel asked, "Are here all your children?" The father answered, "There remains yet the youngest…he keeps the sheep."
Consequently, young David was called from watching sheep and secretly anointed King of Israel! So David—perhaps about 18 years old—was chosen to be King of God’s people! Even though David as King years later fell into sin, he was still considered by God as "a man after mine own heart which shall fulfill all my will" (Acts 13:22). Ultimately, through his posterity came the royal line of our Savior Jesus, "the Son of David" (Matthew 1:1, etc.).
Apostle Paul from his "Mother’s Womb"
Apostle Paul was selected before birth as an illustration of God’s foreknowledge and design in respect to those whom He especially used in His Service. God "had set me apart, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace" (Galatians 1:15)
This choosing of Apostle Paul did not mean that he was predestined to eternal life. However, it was an example of God’s foreknowledge in respect to a very early choosing of Saul for special service. Still, there was no thought of divine interference with the free will. Paul—actually first in blind error—persecuted the Church. His will was not coerced by God’s predestination. But it was God’s foreknowledge—not predestination—that Saul would eventually respond to correction and guidance leading him to do a special work opening the Way to the Gentiles
Parental Responsibilities Momentous for the Future
Parental responsibilities for nurturing their children’s character and future are among the most momentous in all the affairs of mankind. The power to reproduce the human species—with all its possibilities—is a tremendous one. Actually, procreation and nurturing life are the nearest approach humans have to divine power
The possibilities connected with the birth of every child extend in opposite directions—good or evil, honor or dishonor—each to incredible extremes. Our life-giver Creator has truly entrusted to humanity this wonderful power of propagation and we as parents are thereby very accountable as stewards.
Prenatal Influences on the Embryo
Even throughout the period of gestation, the mind of the mother—her thoughts, her moods—are all impacting the embryo child. If the mother’s mind is kept peaceful, cheerful, happy, these will favorably affect the embryo.
By contrast, if she is harassed, worried, troubled, beset with contentions and perplexities—this distress will surely affect the fetus negatively. Tragically, for many children, if prenatal conditions include alcoholism, a fetal alcoholism syndrome occurs. Also, "Prescription-drug abuse is skyrocketing in the U.S., and more and more pregnant women are passing addiction to their newborn babies….more than 13,500 per year…" (the week, May 18, ’12).
Environmental Effects on Children’s Character and Behavior
Truly, after the child is born, favorable influences and environment can or may offset the child’s negative prenatal development in a positive way. But certainly negative experiences for children can profoundly affect character and behavior. In one heartbreaking case, a thrashing 12-year-old boy was brought into a Psychiatric Clinic held down by six policemen. His violent behavior required him to be put in a padded cell. Records revealed the boy had been molested and abused since he was less than two years old. Especially tragic is that in homes—which should be a safe haven—"more than 3 million children in the Unites States have been reported as victims of child abuse and neglect" (Sen. J. Kerry, 3/30/12)
Even though good parents may strive to offset harmful genetic effects—or the environmental effects of the world around us—we are all born children of Adam. Still, parents who follow Biblical moral and ethical values have an advantage over those who have no faith—no hope in a loving God’s Plan for the future. Christian parents can instill in their children—by word and example—a love for our Creator. Instruction and family discussion in the Word of God for children should be a priority in the home. One habit is the family can regularly take advantage of the privilege of prayer, Bible reading and study together
Practical education in principles of justice, love and wisdom should be a main family concern in cultivating relationships with relatives, neighbors, friends near and far. Parents also need to help their children learn how to navigate through conflicts and issues in a fair and loving way. In fact, often parents themselves need help to know how to guide their children.
Raising Children in our World Today
The challenges now for children growing up in today’s world seem to be increasing. Every year 11 million children under the age of 5 die unnecessarily–an overwhelming majority due to preventable and infectious diseases in rural and urban locations all over the world. In areas affected by war and conflict, the task of improving the health and nutrition of vulnerable children is even more challenging (International Rescue Committee, IRC Child Survival). One in twelve people worldwide is malnourished, including 160 million children under the age of 5 (United Nations Food & Agriculture). Every year 15 million children die of hunger. Even in the U.S. one out of every eight children under age of twelve goes to bed hungry every night…and many more are malnourished because of poor diet
But even after working hard for a college degree, jobs are hard to find. Many graduates end up in minimum wage jobs with no future. Additionally, the reasons for rising crime among juveniles are complex. Tight local budgets and reduced federal funding for police, along with new anti-terrorism duties, have stretched police departments and led to cuts in community programs for youths. Historically, low crime rates in recent years often have been linked to a booming economy. But now, with a slowing economy, officials in several cities are tying poverty and financial uncertainty to rising crime, particularly among juveniles. (USA Today)
Recently youths bullied frequently by other children have tragically committed suicide (USA Today, June 13, 2012). Sadly, in some countries children are actually being taught to hate and become suicide bombers ("Taliban Use Child Suicide Bomber," Assoc. Press, 5/1/11) "Taliban Mullahs in Pakistan are recruiting child suicide bombers as young as nine to blow up NATO targets" (The Telegraph, 19 June 2012).
The "Children of God" to Bless the World!
Now the Good News! God—not ignoring man—has a perfectly working Plan in progress to actually bless the whole world of mankind through His own "children!" At first we were children of wrath like everybody else, but God in His "mercy" and "great love…raised us to sit in heavenly places with Christ" (Ephesians 2:3-7).
God’s "children" are those begotten by the holy Spirit who have faith in His Son Jesus Christ—and love others of God’s children because they see His Spirit working in them too! They have committed their lives to being followers of Jesus by denying self and picking up his cross to follow him (Matthew 16:24)
They are specifically called the "sons of God"—and the whole creation is actually groaning and waiting for them! Although the world does not know what it is waiting for…people are anxiously waiting for rescue out of all their troubles by God’s sons!
"For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God….For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth tog together until now…. "
God’s "Children"—the Seed of Abraham
These "Sons," in fact, are also identified as the "Seed of Abraham" which was promised to "bless all the families of the earth." "And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" (Galatians 3:29 ).
"Indeed I will greatly bless you [Abraham], and I will greatly multiply your seed as the  stars of the heavens, and as the  sand which is on the seashore….And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed."
Why both "stars" and "sand"? Although only a "remnant" (Romans 11:5) of Israel received their Messiah and became followers of Jesus, the way was opened to the Gentiles for this spiritual—heavenly—part of "all the Seed" of Blessing (Romans 4:16). But soon Israel will be the earthly "Sand" when "all nations" come up to the capital of God’s Kingdom—Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2-4).
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain [Kingdom] of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains [kingdoms of this world]. . .And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion [heavenly "Stars"] shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem [earthly "Sand"]. And he shall judge among the nations….and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
The whole world (although now "children of wrath") will then have the opportunity to be blessed in God’s Kingdom arrangement (Jeremiah 4:1-2) and become part of the numberless "Sand." The "children of this world" will become God’s children! Those children of Adam who have been damaged during the reign of Satan, "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4)—such as the 12-year-old who killed his sister—will have the opportunity to reform when Satan is bound "to deceive the nations no more" (Revelation 20:1-3)
"A Little Child shall Lead Them..."
Instead of only the present Narrow Way open to Christians—there will be a "Highway" for all the children of the world of to travel on to learn holiness. The morally and physically blind and lame will be healed. Those who are childlike will be leaders in the Jesus’ Kingdom….
All children—whether or not handicapped mentally or physically—will have an opportunity to grow up to full potential as "kings" adding their "glory" to the Kingdom (Revelation 21:24).