The New Testament and Spiritual Work with Children
Translated from Russian into English by Anton Teplyy
“A sower went out to sow, and while he was sowing, some of the
seeds fell down near a road and were trampled down, and the birds of the
sky pecked them, some fell down on a stone and came up, but withered,
because there was no moisture; some fell down among thorns, and thorns
grew and choked them; and others fell down on good soil, and when they
came up, they gave a hundredfold harvest” (Luke 8:5-8).
Jesus Christ narrated this parable to His disciples and explained it by
revealing the deep meaning of the images of the seed, the sower and the
soil. “The seed is the word of God; and the seeds which fell down near the
road are essence about listeners to whom devil comes afterwards and
takes away the word from their hearts, for they will not come to believe
and will not be saved; and the seeds which fell down to stone are about
those who when hear the word, accept it with glad, but do not have a root,
have ephemeral belief, and in the time of temptation fall away; and the
seeds which fell down among thorns are about those who listen the word,
but go away, choked by cares, riches and pleasures of this world, and
give not any fruit; and the seeds which fell down on good soil are about
those who have heard the word and kept it in a kind and clean heart giving
fruit in patience.” (Luke 8:11-15).
What can we say about the future life of the children with whom we
have a contact? Will they be able to choose with benefit for themselves
the truth in the flow of information and events around?
If the good soil was prepared, if in childhood one got rich versatile information
about the world around us, if at the same time the foundation of
ethics was laid, then one’s spiritual Path will be less winding. And if the
adults are sincerely interested in the happy future of the children, thinking
not about financial success, but about the surest progress on the spiritual
Path, predetermined by God, then relationships between them and their
children should be built according to the Divine rules which were given to
humanity through Jesus Christ.
Work with children in the groups of psychic self-regulation can be enriched
with the themes from the New Testament. This agrees very well
with the basic principles set forth in the article of V.V. Antonov The Basic
Principles of Teaching Psychic Self-regulation to Children and Adolescents.
In the life of Jesus Christ, in His deeds, speeches, and parables there
are answers to many questions which arise during one’s life. Many aspects
of one’s relationships with the material world, with other people,
and with God are reflected in the Gospels. It is important that an instructor
find what is necessary now taking into account the age of the child, outward circumstances, the deepness of relationships with the child, and
give the appropriate information in the most suitable form.
By the example of the life of Jesus Christ can be realized the principle
mentioned in the article of V.V. Antonov: “Directed ethical work… should
lay in students the basics of ethics”.
One more principle mentioned in the same article: “In work, stress
should be put on broadening of outlook, wide informing of the students in
order to help them to choose their course of life when they become mature”.
By using Gospels, it is possible to diversify information given to children.
But it is essential that all information be presented according to the
children’s age and, when possible, with taking into account the individual
peculiarities of each child for the sake of achieving the most intensive and
harmonious development of a person.
While working with children, it is necessary to remember that all information
should be given unobtrusively. If the children do not perceive
what is presented to them, then one should try to understand the cause:
either the information is given in a too complicated form or the current
relationships between the children and the instructor do not allow to
communicate on the level of spiritual openness which is implied by the
given information, and so on.
A failure during work with children should be interpreted as a good
reason for bringing to harmony the ethical, intellectual, and psychoenergetic
aspects of the development of the instructor himself.
Let us examine peculiarities noticed during work with groups of children
of different ages.
Children of age from 4 to 6 do not concern about from where this or
that life principle is taken. They just experience the emotional background
around them and behave accordingly to it. If it is love, which accepts the
child as he is, then the child “soaks up” this love into himself. This allows
the instructor to unfold the child’s abilities and creates the favorable rate
of development. If, on the other hand, the child does not receive love, but
even more if negative emotions are directed towards him, then he suffers,
becomes reserved, or on the contrary, begins to behave glaringly.
We can conclude from the aforesaid that when we work with children
of 4-6 years old, we should first of all create the atmosphere of love, the
atmosphere of equal and calm attitude towards all children in the group
independently of their merits and demerits.
At this age, children easily accept the idea of unity with all surrounding
world, perceiving even lifeless things as living beings, giving them
characters and habits. Therefore, the basics of ecological education are
perceived by them as something self-evident: “it is painful to a tree if we
crack its branches”, “a flower does not want to be picked” — all this is
very understandable to small children, and one needs only to stress this.
The children of age 4-6 also understand very well that in every human
being there is the Divine Love, which can light up both the life of the man
himself and the life of all that surrounds him.
The meaning of the Divine Love can be described to children with the
help of the image of a living sun which resides in each of us. Small children
imagine well inside their chests the sun which gives to all its tender
light. Children like very much shining and giving this light. Variants may
be very different: shine from a chest, pour out this love and light from
eyes, with help of smiles, shine with hands, fingers, with one’s whole being.
While narrating fairytales, stories one may use various fine metaphors,
expressions found in the Gospels. For example, the comparison of good
people with trees yielding good fruit.
Children from 7 to 10 have already accumulated some life experience.
By this age certain relationships with the surrounding world have been
formed already. At that if a child grew in the atmosphere of love, attended
such children groups, he will be well and openly inclined towards the perception
of ethical principles which can be understood at the age of 7-10.
If, on the other hand, a child grew against the background of the
domination of negative emotions, by this age he may have built a
“protection” against this world, which cannot satisfy his natural necessity
of being loved.
Manifestations of this “protection” can be various. These are — tiredness,
lack of interest towards surroundings, defiant behavior
(“hypercompensation” of an inferiority complex), and so on.
Such children consequently provoke other adult people to negative
emotions. And this proves to such children that they are “bad”, what
causes even more strengthening of the “protection” from the people
around, who do not want to evaluate children’s inner essence. In this way,
the permanent forcing of tension between children and adults occurs.
Among some people this happens to a lesser degree, among others — to
During work in the groups of psychic self-regulation, it is important to
sever such a chain: “protection” — “reaction of adults” — “protection”…
In each child one has to find something good, special, and help to uncover
this from under the protective mask.
Sometimes it is enough to let a child once express his opinion, to pay
attention to his words, and “constraints” fall off, and the “mask” is thrown
away as unneeded.
If a child feels that he has a possibility to show his worthiness socially,
that the fact of his existence is interesting to other people, then interest
in getting new information from adults appears. It is possible to use
parables and stories from the Gospels in order to lay in the child the
foundations of ethics, along with information broadening his outlook.
The life of an adolescent group goes according to certain laws. Among
the children conflicts often occur. If one, instead of smoothing such situations,
tries to help children to gain the understanding of their relationships,
using evangelical stories and parables, then it is possible to
change their “scale of values”, to make them more ethical, kind, and honest.
By the age of 11-14, adolescents get questions to which they have not
found answers yet. Adolescents already have a set of the ways of behavior;
they know various nuances of human relationships; their relation towards
themselves have already formed; and the desire for knowing the
principles of the world have appeared. They make attempts to solve arising
problems on the base of the knowledge they have. Work in groups
may help to sort the accumulated knowledge, to get new information, to
detach the truth from false.
The use of themes from the New Testament may help to sort out the
incoming information, to learn controlling oneself, to withstand difficult
stages of life, which appear inevitably during one’s life.
At lessons with adolescents, communication should be built in the
form of a dialog. It is important to give a possibility to express his/her
opinion to each adolescent. This can help every member of the group to
gain self-confidence, to learn respecting other’s opinions. For that it is
necessary to master such qualities as patience and tolerance.
Each lesson should be analyzed by the instructor in order to understand
the state and needs of all members of the group. Providing that, the
next pieces of information will be given in the most suitable form and
have the meaning most important at the present moment.
The themes for discussions and meditations can be various. For instance,
the theme of love: “Love your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37), “Love your neighbor as
yourself” (Matt 22:39).
Particularly, it is possible to raise such questions: “Why should we fulfill
these commandments?”, “Who is my neighbor?”
It is also useful to narrate the parable of Jesus about a merciful Samaritan:
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into
the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving
him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but
when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side. So too a
Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other
side. But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man
was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. He went up to him
and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him
on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next
day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying,
“Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I
come back this way.” (Luke 10:25-37). So, neighbor is not that who, for
example, has the same nationality as you, but is every kind man.
Hence, it is possible to extend this idea: ALL people are brothers and
sisters because God loves ALL, and everyone has the Divine Light inside,
God’s Spirit which lives in us.
At once it is possible to conduct the meditation of seeking the source
of this Divine Light in the chest. The chest, the “home” of this Light, is
closed initially, blocked by the “heaps” of insults, by the “stones” of envy,
flooded with heavy, sticky, and bad mood. Let us try to shovel down the
“heaps”, cleanse the passage to the “home”, give an outlet to the Divine
Light of love. Let us feel how the windows of our “home” are opening and
fresh air is entering inside; our inner Light is kindling stronger; it is difficult
for it to find room in the chest and it pours out to all surroundings: to
the friends, to the trees, to the flowers, to the birds, into ambient space,
giving to all peace, joy, and love.
Let us remember some person which was unpleasant to us in something
until this moment. Let us see that he has the same Light in his
chest, but it is still blocked. Feel sorry for him/her and send him the small
ray of our love. Let us love this person as he is, because God gives to
everyone a possibility to become better, cleaner.
To this theme of meditation the question of the apostle Peter to Jesus
and the answer of Jesus are appropriate: “How many times should I forgive
my brother who sins against me? Until seven times?” “I do not tell
you “until seven times”, but until seventy times seven” (Matt 18:21-22)..
One should always bring the Golden Rule in the life of the group.
“…Whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them”
This Rule can help to solve occurring conflict situations and to choose
this or that decision.
The Golden Rule may also become the theme of a particular lesson.
As an illustration, one may use the story about a king and a servant
from the Gospel of Matthew. A king, being moved with compassion, forgave
to his servant the debt, but the servant did not forgive the debt to his
follow-servant and cast him into prison, forgetting in what situation he
One may discuss this story and give different examples from his own
life. It is possible to express thought that sometimes it is very difficult to
forgive and understand. For that — efforts and work on oneself are
needed, but not anger, condemnation, and striving for changing others.
Only through self-analysis, through efforts to change oneself does the
development of souls go. The gaining of the soul’s qualities comes from
the work on oneself, which should not be put off, because in the future
new tasks will appear which need to be solved as well.
In discussions on spiritual subjects it is useful to give examples from
the lives of adolescents. In order for adolescents to become interested in
narrating about their faults, one should explain that all our problems are a
school for us. Sometimes we cannot realize what is good and what is bad
until we face with it. And if we now, at lesson, share our faults, without the
fear of being condemned, then we get benefit from such communication.
First, by narrating about our bad deed, we take off this weight by repentance.
Second, the life experience accumulated by us may help our
friends to find correct decisions in the similar situations.
So that adolescents do not get the desire to condemn others during
such discussions and during other circumstances, one may talk about:
“Whether we have a right to condemn others?”
We all go through our lives falling, stumbling, and making wrong
deeds. This can be illustrated by the story from the Gospel. Once a
“sinful” woman was brought to Jesus in order for Jesus to condemn her.
But Jesus told people who brought her and demanded that she be prosecuted
by a court, “Who among you is without a sin, let him throw the first
stone at her” (John 8:7). Soon, around Jesus and the woman there was no
man. The stone was not thrown. So, let us before raising a hand or opening
a mouth to condemn, think about whether we have a right for that?
Whether we are blameless? Take the place of that man which we want to
hit whether by a word or a thought. Would we like that the same will be
done to us? It is usually difficult to do all this, because we commonly be
in anger in such moments. Hence, one may switch to discussion about
the essence of anger, about its manifestations.
Evil can never be exterminated by evil. Evil gives birth only to even
more evil. Only love can cleanse one from evil. As an example, we can
consider the story about Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, who was turned
to righteous life.
A tax collector Zacchaeus lived in the town Jericho. He offended people
robbing them, taking from them more taxes than the law prescribed.
But Jesus, when He came to this town, did not even condemn Zacchaeus,
but wanted to stay in his house. Such unusual behavior of Jesus changed
Zacchaeus in a split second. The love of Jesus led Zacchaeus to repentance
It is possible to conduct the following meditation: let us recall some
situation when we condemned somebody. Replay this situation and
imagine that God looks at our anger, at our spite and laughs at us being
angry— in many cases we are clumsy just as that man whom we are angry
with. Let us try to understand this man, send him the rays of our love
emanated from our spiritual hearts.
One may also discuss the nature of evil. Usually one does wrong, evil
deeds because he perceives outward things incorrectly. From his point of
view, he performs deeds for the welfare. One may narrate the story about
Saul who was, by his religious beliefs, the worst enemy of Christians, but
having recovered his sight, understood and accepted the Teaching of Jesus
Christ and with the same vigor began to preach Christianity (Acts
7:58, 8:3, 9:1-28).
One more theme: “It is easy to love people who love you”. The best
example of love towards all is the behavior of Jesus in the last hours of
his life on the Earth. Jesus healed the servant of chief priest to whom one
of the apostles cut off an ear during the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane.
Jesus loved and felt sorry for people who crucified His body because they
“do not know what they are doing”.
The new aspect of human relationships may reveal to us a parable
about a Pharisee and a tax collector: “God, I thank you, that I am not like
the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax
collector. I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all that I get”, the Pharisee
said. But the tax collector, standing far away, would not even lift up as
his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a
sinner!” (Luke 18:10-14). Which of these two people estimated his spiritual
qualities more honestly?
One may offer such theme: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14). Talking
about that, let us try to answer questions: “What does it mean “humbles
himself”?”, “In what he will be exalted?”
If adolescents are ready to perceive deep spiritual truths, one may develop
the theme: “What benefit is it to a man if he gains the entire world
but does harm to his soul?”
Our bodies can be compared to automobiles in which we perform the
travel called “life”. The way we lived on the Earth predetermines the place
for us after the death of the body. Let us narrate the parable about a rich
man and Lazarus. A rich man had all material comforts in his earthly life.
He enjoyed this and did not think about spiritual. Lazarus, on the other
hand, was poor, lived in poverty, but led a righteous life. When they left
their physical bodies, the rich man found oneself in hell, but Lazarus was
taken to paradise. “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus,
that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue! For
I am in anguish in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Son, remember that
you, in your lifetime, received your good things, and Lazarus, in like manner,
bad things. But now here he is comforted and you are in anguish”
This may be naturally followed by a discussion about what is hell and
what is paradise, about the structure of multidimensional universe, and
about the place of God-the-Creator in it.
To the theme pointed above, it will be appropriate to narrate the parable
about a foolish rich man who spent all his strength, gathering and
saving material boons. Having had gathered tangible wealth, he anticipated
a long life full of pleasures from using his riches, but God said to
him, “You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things
which you have prepared — whose will they be?” (Luke 12:20). “Beware!
Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man's life doesn't consist of
the abundance of the things which he possesses” (Luke 12:15). “Don't lay
up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume,
and where thieves break through and steal” (Matt 6:19). Here Jesus stated
that only the results of our spiritual work are really ours, that only these
results stay with us forever. Material acquisitions, in contrast, are temporary.
One may have good things, be dressed well, enjoy various material
boons — all this is good and necessary for supporting the physical body
in a good shape, but this should not become the purpose of life, should
not be put into the head of a corner.
Two nice themes may be taken from the story about Jesus and a Samaritan
woman. Jesus asked some water from a Samaritan woman, a
woman of slightly different nationality. This woman was surprised that Jesus,
a Jew, did not disdain to ask her, contrary to other Jews. Jesus did
not demonstrate by His behavior that she is “lower” than He is. Having
had drunk some water, He said: “Everyone who drinks of this water will
thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never
thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water
springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14).
First of all, here is a theme about the equality of people in the face of
God, about inadmissibility of arrogance. To this theme one may add the
story about Apostle Philip who converted into Christianity a grandee from
Ethiopia. (Acts 8:26-39).
The second theme, which follows from the story about Jesus and the
Samaritan woman, is the Divine knowledge, which we can drink and give
to drink to others. And love towards people, about which Jesus said, is
the precondition for understanding the Divinity.
“Be careful that you do not do your charitable giving before men, to be
seen by them, or else you have no reward with your Father who is in
heaven. The hypocrites… have already received their reward” (Matt 6:1;
5), “When you make a dinner or a supper, do not call your friends, nor
your brothers, nor your kinsmen, nor rich neighbors, or perhaps they
might also return the favor, and pay you back. But when you make a feast,
ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; and you will be blessed,
because they do not have the resources to repay you. For you will be repaid
in the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14).
How should we understand this? Literally? Or is it a grotesque
stressing of the meaning which we should attribute to relations between
people? A good deed can be done for receiving praise, and then this is
not the true good, but a good provoked by the expectation of a reward for
this. This can be seen very well with small children: some of them refuse
to fulfil a request for the promised reward. They feel that love needs not to
be rewarded materially. But we often teach children to do something for a
material reward, forming a wrong scale of values in them.
Very often one performs deeds about which he regrets afterwards: betrayal,
false evidence, violation of a promise. Later, the pain of remorse
comes, regret about what was done. In some such cases you know that
you act wrong, but something prevents you from doing right. For example,
one says one thing, another insists on something else, and then confidence
in your own rightfulness is lost in the flow of other’s opinions.
It is important to learn to be firm in your decisions — whether small or
big. The feeling of herd often overcomes us. In a company we often do
that which we never could do by ourselves. The summit, the most impressive
example of the factor of a herd was the persecution of Jesus Christ.
“Crucify, crucify Him!” — yells crowd to Pilot, asking for blood of the One
Who brought them His Love, Who healed them…
What can help us to strengthen confidence in ourselves, in our abilities?
Here one can use the story about Jesus walking on the sea. Apostle
Peter said then to Jesus: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you
on the waters. He said, “Come!” Peter went down from the boat, and
walked on the waters to come to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind
was strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying,
“Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and took
hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt
One can talk about the work on the perfection of the soul — that it is
hard, but this is the work worthy of efforts: “Enter in by the narrow gate;
for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and
many are those who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted
is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it.” (Matt 7:13-14).
“For they all gave out of their abundance, but she, out of her poverty,
gave all that she had to live on.” (Mark 12:44). This story about two lepta
of a poor widow may serve as the beginning of the conversation about
how we think about deeds of other people. Often near us live people
whose contribution to work or to something else is unnoticeable and insignificant,
but it is done with one's last bit of strength and with full selfgiving.
And such impulses in people one should notice, appreciate, and
keep as the precious gifts.
And one more great theme: “There is nothing from outside of the man,
that going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the
man are those that defile the man.” (Mark 7:15). No one of even the most
disgusting acts of other people can verily defile; only his own bad deeds
and emotions, coming from man, defile him.
In conclusion, I want to say the following. This article presented the
principle of the interpretation of the New Testament themes and some
themes for the discussions and meditations. Everyone who conducts lessons
in children groups may select from the New Testament material
which is needed in particular cases and give it in the most suitable form.
But it is important to remember that some principles given in the Gospels
are understandable only for the people of the sufficiently high level of
the spiritual perfection. And one should not give such complicated principles
to children because it may cause damage to their development.
For example, “…whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him
the other also.” (Matt 5:39). But “turning of the other cheek” can be an act
following from one’s strength or from one’s weakness; only the first will
What concerns warriors, they should have the qualities about which
John the Baptist said: “Who has two coats, let him give to him who has
none. He who has food, let him do likewise. Extort no more than that
which is appointed you. Extort from no one by violence, neither accuse
anyone wrongfully. Be content with your wages.” (Luke 3:11-14).
Or, for instance, the story about Martha and Mary: Mary sat near Jesus’
feet, listening carefully each word of Jesus, but not helping to her
sister about housekeeping. When Martha asked Jesus to send her sister
to help her, Jesus answered: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled
about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the
good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42). But in
order to become like Mary one should first learn how to keep house,
should develop in oneself the qualities of a householder. One should become
like Mary not because of laziness and inability, but having known
the work on the material plane, having ceased to be afraid of any work. (In
detail you can read about the qualities of a warrior and a householder in
the article of V.V. Antonov The Laws of Spiritual Development ).
Working with children, acquainting them with outer world, broadening
their outlook, giving them the fundamentals of morality, we lay the foundations
of ethics on which they will build their spiritual temples when become
From the aforesaid it follows that in children we should develop habits
of work, cultivate an active position in life. If it so, then afterwards on this
well prepared soil a good fruit from the Divine Word can grow.
1 This and other similar recommendations of Jesus — are for those who already
go the spiritual Path, for those who are strong in spirit, and for those who
strengthen firmness of their love in particular by eliminating remains of their
ambitious feelings, which are the manifestation of the lower self, that is egocentrism
Jesus told to His disciples that damage to the body, the property, the personality
is insignificant compared with the cognition of the Creator and Mergence
with Him. Defense of these trifles, most likely accompanied by going out from
the state of Love, should not distract one from the main: from the full realization
of the meaning of one’s life. (note of V.V. Antonov).