Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Kid Theology

The other day Ruby said that she wanted to have a playdate at God's house.  I asked what they would play there.
"Dolls, tea party, animals, puzzles, toys!" she listed gleefully.
"What do you think God looks like?" I asked, curious.
She did not hesitate at all.  "Like a kid!"  was her instant reply.  Duh, Mom.
And that is the remarkable thing about Christianity.  We believe that God WAS a kid at one point. He probably engaged in the first century Palestinian equivalent of playdates with the other kids in town.  I don't know that Jesus went to any tea parties, but perhaps he and some neighbor kids had pretend Passover seders and made mudpie unleavened bread.  It is quite wondrous to imagine what Jesus was like as a child; I can't quite comprehend what a person would be like who is fully human (and therefore has the need to grow in stature and wisdom) and fully divine (innocent of all sin), probably because it was a one-time deal, and I'll never in this lifetime have even a day go by where I am innocent of all sin.   What must it be like to be so completely united to the Father's purpose, that even the most difficult and self-denying tasks (such as allowing yourself to be crucified on behalf of people who don't understand you and don't care about you) are able to be accomplished?  The mystery of faith, indeed.  
Ruby has also told me that God and Jesus are on the ceiling.  I'm wondering if that came from her Sunday School teachers pointing upwards when they talk about Heaven or what.
I read on Haley's blog a few days ago the following exchange that passed between Haley and her two year old daughter Lucy.  Haley asked Lucy, "What's your favorite thing about yourself?"  Lucy replied, "Jesus."  It's both cute and profound, and gives, I believe, a good illustration of why Jesus told people that they must become like children in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven, and that even from the mouths of infants and nursing children comes God's praises.  Jesus should be our favorite thing about ourselves; or to put it another way, Jesus should be the thing in us we most treasure.  He makes all things beautiful in His time, and that applies to what is within us as well as everything else in history and creation.  Is Jesus my favorite thing about me?  Or do I favor more His gifts without acknowledging the Giver?  I like that I can write well; I like that I love my children; I like that I am creative.  There are many things I favor within myself, but ultimately these are all graces and gifts from the One who knew me before my parents did.  That doesn't mean (as I used to think) that I should consider them to be rubbish or useless or even deplorable.  That is false humility, and actually gets us nowhere.  As C.S. Lewis says in The Screwtape Letters,

“By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. And since what they are trying to believe may, in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it and we have the chance of keeping their minds endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the the impossible.” 

False humility keeps us thinking about us; true humility keeps us thinking about God and His graciousness in our lives.  That is why I love hearing what my kids want to say "thank you" for at prayer time.  None of it is grandiose; it's all so mundane.  Thank you for my puzzles.  Thank you for donuts.  Thank you for Hemi (the dog in residence at Ruby's preschool). They have not yet learned to take those simple things for granted as things which they need not be thankful for because somehow it's owed them to have it all.  They can still be thankful for things which I've long since come to expect "by right."  They also have neither inflated pride nor false humility about their accomplishments.  Ruby can say that she is good at cleaning up her room and recognize that it is true (when she chooses to do it, that is!) without being puffed up. They also would like to spend time with God and play with Him.  Children seemed to enjoy spending time with Jesus, too, much to the disgruntlement of His disciples.  When was the last time I looked forward to hanging out with God?  Children really do point us towards the kingdom of God in so many ways, and although children obviously have their own faults and follies, I think we would do well to look to the trust and confidence many of them display in God.
I don't think anybody can say it better than King David did, in Psalm 131:
O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
nor do I go after great matters 
or things too marvelous for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child leans upon his mother, 
my soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forever.


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