XVIII BUILDING UP THE BOY'S SPIRITUAL LIFE
The business of the Sunday school is the letting loose of moral and religious impulses for life—the raising of the life, by information, inspiration and opportunity, to its highest possible attainment. The very highest reach that any boy's life can attain is the ideal of life that Jesus has set forth. Nothing less than this can be the aim of the Sunday school. Analyzing this ideal, we find that this means that the boy must physically, socially, mentally, and religiously find the best, build it into his life, and attain unto the "measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Anything that does not contribute to this end, in the principle or method of the Sunday school, is wrong. Likewise, anything, tradition or prejudice, that keeps the school from reaching the boy for the Christ-ideal is a positive affront to the Lord of the Church. The Sunday school deals with a living, breathing boy—not a theory, but a real combination of flesh, bone, muscle, nerve and blood. It must minister to the needs of this combination in a generous way, with physical, through-the-week activities, not to induce it to attend Sunday school for worship and Bible study, but because the highest good of the combination demands these things. The school also should see that this living, breathing boy, who, by God's law of life, thinks and moves by his thought, should receive the best opportunity to develop his mind by supporting the state institutions in the community for that purpose, and also in providing culture, recreation-education within the confines of its own particular sphere. In addition to this, recognizing that the boy belongs to the social life of the community, and "that no man liveth unto himself or dieth unto himself," the Sunday school must recognize its obligation to the community, as well as to the boy, and furnish him an opportunity for the best social adjustment. The Kingdom of God is a saved community of saved lives. It is best represented in the Scriptures as a city, a golden city, without death, crying, or sorrow, all of them intensely social things, as are their opposites, also. Every lesson the school gives the boy socially, every chance it affords him to learn by contact with his fellows of either sex, means just one more effort for the Kingdom. Moreover, the Kingdom is a community of saved bodies, saved minds, saved social relations and saved spirits, or a place or group where the best dominates—the will of God rules over all lesser things, changing and making them over into the best. Thus the Kingdom is where life appreciates, enjoys, respects, and honors all of God's gifts, whether it be body, mind, social relations, or material or spiritual things. The task of the Sunday school, then, is to reach out unswervingly, enthusiastically after these ends for the adolescent boy. Like the commandments, he that transgresseth in one fails in all, in the largest, truest sense.
The work of the Sunday school, summed up briefly, is to round out the boy by all good things that he may see and know and acknowledge Jesus Christ, the Master of Men, as the Master and Lord of his life, too. Any step less than the joyous acceptance of the Son of God as Saviour of his life is to miss the mark entirely. This is the end of all Sunday school principle and method.
Further, Jesus Christ, as Saviour of Life, is not an idea, a theory, a belief, but a practical, everyday, every-minute influence. "For me to live is Christ." From this time forth everything in life is done in the Christ-spirit. The boy does not cease to be a boy in the acceptance. He is now a Christian boy, not a mature, Christian man. He still loves play, but play is not marred now by the tricks that minister to self. Play ministers now both to self and others. It does not nor cannot leave out self, however. It saves self. So, with all things else in life, real life that is lived seven days in the week, twenty-four hours in the day among his fellows—and one week following without break the other. Saviour of Life means saviour of body, of mind, of social contacts, of spirit. It means more than formal religion, the attendance of services, the saying of prayers, the observance of customs—these are all excellent and necessary, but to be saved by the Saviour of Men means new life, or life with a new, saved meaning: "I come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly" (overflowingly). This is the great objective of the Sunday school.
As soon as a life knows Jesus as Saviour, it asks the question, "What wilt thou have me to do, Lord?" Notice, it is not, what shall I believe, or what shall I cast out of my life? Doing regulates both of these, and the "expulsive power of a new affection" settles nearly every problem by displacement. This, after all, is Christianity—to be "In Christ." "Not to be ministered unto, but to minister." "He that would be greatest, let him be the servant of all." The quality of Christianity is Service. The task of the Sunday school is the raising of the life by information, inspiration and opportunity to its highest possible attainment. Christian service is both the highest and the best. To the acknowledgment of Jesus as Saviour and Lord, then, must be added the free, voluntary, loving service for others in His name. This is the Upbuilding of the Spiritual Life of the Boy.
What shall be used, then, for this purpose? Everything that will minister to the result—Organization, Leadership, Bible Study, Through-the-Week Activity, Material Equipment, Teaching, Song, Prayer, Reproof, Inspiration, Guidance, and all else that the Sunday school may know or discover. Two factors in it all are preeminent: Christ and the Boy. All else are but means. The boy a loving, serving follower of his Lord! This is the endless end.
What should the Sunday school do to achieve this? Reach to the utmost, strive to the uttermost, use every resource, redeem every opportunity, create, discover and harness every method, hold the boy to his best, patiently see him develop, give him the material and spiritual elements for his growth, afford him opportunity to find himself, help him to crystalize his thought for life and lovingly aid him to meet, know and acknowledge his Lord.
Thus the boy will be "built up in our most holy faith"—the faith that loves and serves in healthy life for the joy of living.
BIBLIOGRAPHY ON THE BOY'S SPIRITUAL LIFE
Alexander (Editor).—Boy Training (Chapter on "The Goal of Adolescence") (.75).
Sunday School and the Teens (Chapter on "The Church's Provision for Adolescent Spiritual Life") ([USD]1.00).
Boys' Work Message, Men and Religion Movement (Chapters on "The Boy's Religious Needs" and "The Message of Christianity to Boyhood") ([USD]1.00).