It was a yellowing, faded photograph and brought back many happy memories: five boys in their mid-teens gathered outside of a Christian Science Sunday School. I was the one in the middle, and all of us were dressed in our best Sunday clothes complete with suit and tie, overcoat, and broad-rimmed hat—looking like prim and proper adults on a smaller scale. Were we really that different, I wondered, from the youngsters in my Sunday School class today?
Hairstyles and modes of dress have changed. The pace of daily living has certainly quickened. And the horizon of human knowledge has moved light-years ahead. But the challenges my friends and I faced as teenagers were the same that young people wrestle with today: academic pressures, social acceptance, sexual curiosity, the desire to be popular, individual expression versus conforming to the crowd. And yet, I felt a distinct difference between the young people I currently teach and those five boys in the photograph.
The difference, I realized, lies not in young people themselves but in the world's thought about them—the mental impositions and limitations placed upon them by a materialistic society. And it is here that the alert Christian Scientist should focus prayerful consideration —especially someone charged with the solemn responsibility of what Mary Baker Eddy calls "the Christian education of the dear children." The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 230. The Science of the Christ is fully empowered with ability to dissolve such impositions and limitations, but there is a need for vigilance in our prayers for young people because the material misconceptions about them are legion.