The teaching itself must deal more and more with the relationships of life. To the majority of young people, the Bible belongs to an uncertain and remote past. The goal of work in these unsettled years is to help them see how the Book solves all problems of present-day living, and how Jesus Christ meets every personal need of the life.
MIDDLE AND LATE ADOLESCENCE
The crisis of adolescence may be said to culminate about the years from fifteen to seventeen with girls, and sixteen to eighteen with boys, or the period of Middle Adolescence. During these years the feelings and the imagination are a great storm center, largely because of the rapid development of the altruistic feelings, and the enlarged conception of life with the new ideals it has given.
Divine Wisdom in the order of the soul’s unfolding can be seen nowhere more clearly than in connection with the growth of responsibility for another. There must first be the self feelings in the little child, to help him learn his own individuality. When that knowledge comes, his life must be related to other lives, hence the social feelings awaken, yet it is for his personal pleasure that contact with others is sought. But God’s plan for a life does not leave it self centered, and under His touch through these lives a sense of responsibility toward them begins to be felt, and the realization comes that “No man liveth unto himself.” Ideals which make the good of others first, enter into conflict with childish ideals which made personal gain first. A new impulse to forget self in loving service confronts the old self seeking and self love. Then the truth that “No man can serve two masters,” fastens itself upon the soul and decision waits between self and selflessness. In a struggle that often shakes a life to its foundations, the great choice is made and the soul yields itself servant to obey. Though a reversal of either choice is possible, it rarely occurs. This decision usually determines destiny.
A new meaning and value in early nurture is revealed in the light of this struggle. If love for Jesus Christ has grown through the years in the heart of the child and the youth, a decision that means fuller allegiance to Him and greater blessing to the world is assured. If also during these years nurture has traced pathways of service, as an expression of child love to God and to others, habit adds the influence of its tendencies to the choice of ministering life, and offers channels already prepared for the outflow of sacrificial love.
The years preceding have not been utterly devoid of altruistic feeling, but adolescence presents marked difference in its manifestation, other than that of intensity.