There are many challenges children and young people face today, even being different from those of the “adult world.” In addition to the problems that are typical of their age, children and young people suffer from issues related to violence, bullying, drugs, early eroticization, and depression. In extreme cases, depression, for example, result in suicide in childhood or adolescence. These issues are often worsen by fear, frustration, and a lack of hope in the future, given the amount of news or situations they experience in their daily lives.
How to protect them from such real and fast-moving dangers? The President-Preacher of the Religion of God, of the Christ, and of the Holy Spirit1, José de Paiva Netto, argues that “To manage is to arrive in advance.” From this perspective—which invites us to anticipate the dangers of the world—we are going to reflect on our role in this scenario, on how we can prepare ourselves to act in time and to act right; and also, in a balanced and non-despairing way, how we can ensure that young ones prevent or overcome difficult situations.
Read below an ecumenical study on this topic, conducted by the Preacher-Minister of the Religion of Universal Love Paula Suelí, at one of the public meetings held in the Ecumenical Churches of the Religion of the Third Millennium:
In Spirit and Truth under the Light of the New Commandment of Jesus, we are going to study the Gospel of the Christ of God according to Luke 19:1-10:
Zacchaeus, the Tax Collector:
1 And Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.
2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.
4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Him, since the Christ of God was coming that way.
5 When the Divine Friend reached the spot, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
6 So he [Zacchaeus] came down at once and welcomed Him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Then Jesus said to him, “today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
10 For the Son of God came to seek and to save the lost.”
Jesus teaches us to care about those in need
My brethren, we need to observe the lessons in this passage in order for us to learn how to protect children and young people from the dangers of our time. When we look at the first few verses, we can notice that Jesus was busy. A crowd was following Him. He was certainly burdened with the weight of the great responsibilities of such important mission of His: to present the knowledge of God in a way that Humanity had never heard before. He entered Jericho, crossed the city, and that crowd sought Him out in their anguish and unhappiness. What a lot work Christ had to do! But that didn’t stop Him from recognizing someone who was in distress, because Jesus looked to Zacchaeus, noticed that man, and spoke to him.
In verse 4, we see that Jesus recognized Zacchaeus’ effort—in climbing the tree to see Him—and realized that he needed attention, care, and personal help. This can be related to our lives. Are we lifting our eyes, really seeing who needs our help and speaking to them from the heart? We need to think like Christ did: “It's not a burden,” “I'm not doing it because I’m obliged to, because everyone expects it from me.” But I’m doing it because I recognize the value of the person standing in front of me.
People spoke evil of Jesus because of His attitude. And this can happen to us, when someone asks for example, “Why do you keep going on at that child? Why do you keep picking on your son? That’s how teenagers are!” But, what should we do? Give up and think everything is OK? What if everything is NOT OK? Thank God, today we have scientific knowledge to prove that children, teenagers, and young adults also have their own problems. They suffer from depression, for example.
Are we going to ignore this fact? Are we going to keep thinking that one day they will come up against something worse and realize that the previous problem was not so big? Is there ever going to exist such a period of time? We can’t run that risk! We need to stand up now and say to them—as Christ said, “I must stay at your house”—: “I’m interested in helping you, I’m committed to helping you;” “I’m here because I love you, because I care about you.” Do all children know this about their parents? Not only their biological parents, or parents by adoption, but also their educators, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or even the co-workers of the youngest ones. Do we show them that we’re honestly, sincerely, and truly interested in their happiness? Do we ’stay at their house’, as Christ did with Zacchaeus? Christ is drawing our attention to this.
“For the Son of God came to seek and to save the lost,” said the Divine Master. What does it mean being lost nowadays? We can describe it as aimless people or those who are confused about the direction in which they’re going. And that’s not the best way for them. How many children and young people are in this situation? They have the feeling that older people will never understand their problems, that they don’t know what they’re suffering. But, the older people can understand, because they were teenagers before. They’re human and spiritual beings, and can receive God’s intuition!
But if we don’t identify the signs at home, how will we be able to protect our children and young people? And this is not a story about the past. No! This is happening today, on a daily basis. What are the dangers of our time?
Bullying, for example, is a systematic persecution that makes a person believe he/she is worth nothing. There are children suffering from that at this very moment and wishing they could die. In fact, what they wish for is that their pain would come to an end. They even think about suicide as a solution, which is not true.
Consumerism is also a terrible suffering. This is a situation in which the person thinks that their qualities lie in what they have. Have you ever thought how oppressive that is? “I’m not worth anything because I don’t have those pants, I don’t have that smartphone, I can’t go to that show. . .” This is not what we are. This is superficial and fleeting, so it can’t be a parameter for self-esteem, for the worth that someone thinks they have or don’t have. . .
And what about standards of beauty? How many children, teenagers, and young people think they’re ugly, fat, inappropriate. . . ? How many of them are ashamed of their own hair and the color of their skin? But they’re all wonderful! All of them are unique and irreplaceable! But who’s going to say that to them? We are! We need to tell them that they’re loved, extraordinary, and unique and that they’re still going to experience many amazing things in life! What's more: that Jesus cares about each one of them.
Spiritual knowledge: indispensable tool for protecting children and young people
We need to learn how to protect children and young people from these very fast-moving dangers of our time. But this requires us to be even faster. And we're going to do this together, because the Religion of the Third Millennium shows us how to get there. The President-Preacher of the Divine Religion, José de Paiva Netto, argues that “To manage is to arrive in advance.” In the education of our children, we can see this as: seeking intuition in God, building trust and dialogue, and really getting to know who these people are—people who are so precious that God placed them in our Home.
In his article Balance as a goal, Paiva Netto teaches us about the logic of education, which will help us understand how to really protect the young ones:
"The comprehension of the masses will gradually mature until it understands the value of citizenship in its broader sense, because it is not sufficient to consider the citizen only in his/her physical context, but also in a spiritual one, because any component of human groups is, in the end, made up of body and Soul. After all, we are Spirit in origin. This is the complete meaning of citizenship, which cannot merely acknowledge the illiteracy of human letters, nor equally the ignorance over spiritual matters".
At this point, Paiva Netto draws attention to the fact that those we educate are comprised of body and Soul; they are first and foremost spiritual beings. So, if we fight against the illiteracy of the people, neither can we allow the spiritual illiteracy. Because a person who has not been taught how to read and write faces many limitations in their day-to-day life. It’s difficult for them to come and go without the help of anyone. They’re prevented from living in equality, and their right to dignity suffers constant threats of non-access. When an individual doesn’t know the Divine Laws, they don’t understand their spiritual duties and rights; they don’t know the extraordinary values they carry in their Soul—living, therefore, in spiritual illiteracy—. Being so, they will suffer even greater limitations and suffering.
Consequently, we are held hostage by this illiteracy to a far worse ignorance, because it reduces our life to merely material aspects. That is why we need to understand that we are first and foremost eternal Spirits. Imagine if the young ones thought that all the wealth they can earn in life was material wealth? Are they going to be really happy? Who’s going to ensure that this material wealth will never be lost? How will it solve their deepest existential questions, the longed for sincere love, the need to be useful, solidary, and good? For there to be happiness, there’s a greater wealth, a spiritual achievement that cannot be postponed. Therefore, if they think that this is what life is about, we’ll be burying these people while they’re still “alive.”
Material resources are a means of survival, but we were not born on Earth only to use them. The Religion of the Third Millennium enlightens us that we are born to evolve spiritually, to develop in a family, to grow in a community, to learn to overcome our fears, disagreements, limitations, and mistakes of the past through the Universal Law of Reincarnation2. Having this in mind, we will be able to ensure that children and young people learn how to identify what should or should not be a priority in their lives.
The president-preacher of the Religion of God, of the Christ, and of the Holy Spirit adds in his article Balance as a Goal:
"This is a situation that doesn’t only affect Brazil. It is a worldwide condition. For generations, little more than garbage has been offered to most children and young people. After that, there are still those who show their surprise in face of the results obtained by such a damaging sowing of seeds, the culture of crime that derives pleasure in the conflict between people, or even in the midst of families, real undeclared civil wars, whose victims are especially the youth (Apocalypse, 8:7), causing many other victims in all classes.
“First Trumpet – The first Angel played his trumpet, and there were hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were hurled to the earth. Then, the third part of the earth was scorched, and also of the trees, and also the green grass (referring to childhood and the younger years).
It’s not enough to pull up the windows of your car. It is suicidal to turn your attention away from the facts".
So what will we have in the future if we don’t stand up and protect our children and young people both spiritually and materially, teaching them to defend themselves from the violence and oppression they constantly suffer from video games, movies, games, the Internet, and social media? We shall be left sad, knowing that we did not secure this good future for all, and experiencing the deep misery of witnessing the suffering of those whom we love and whom God entrusted to us to take care of on Earth. This being so, let us boldly practice every day the teachings of Jesus from His Gospel-Apocalypse. Let us honor those who have preceded us in this struggle; let us honor the unceasing gift of the Christ of God for us.
If you have any question and/or comment about this and other topics, send them to the Religion of God, of the Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. Let the Ecumenical Spirituality become a part of your life! And if you felt good reading this article, share it! It might touch the heart of other people too.
1 Religion of God, of the Christ, and of the Holy Spirit — also called the Religion of the Third Millennium, and the Religion of Universal Love. This is the Ecumenical Religion of Brazil and the world.
2 The Religion of Divine Love acknowledges the Universal Law of Reincarnation and understands it as a new opportunity granted by God for the spiritual evolution of His creatures. In Apocalipse sem medo (Apocalypse without Fear), pages 73 and 74, Paiva Netto writes: "Let it not slip from our memory what we promised in the Spiritual Sphere to do on Earth in benefit of our fellow beings. Generally, we are settling mistakes we committed in previous existences. I want to reaffirm the following: reincarnation is not punishment from God. On the contrary, it is His mercy granting us new chances. It is better than eternal hell. How can a father wish that his son―however much wrong he has done in a life of 50, 60, 70, or even 100 years―spend Eternity in infernal suffering, in the flames that do not consume? . . .”