Friday, April 22, 2011

conversations about God

Andy (4) is trying to figure out what God is like.

"God doesn't have arms, Mummy. God doesn't have legs."

And then, with complete certainty,

"Hey, Mummy, God is a floating head!"

So much for the old man in the clouds! Instead we have a rather disconcerting image that sounds like it came straight out of The Wizard of Oz (which I'm starting to be glad he hasn't seen).

It's a little over Andy's head (no pun intended), but we talk about what it means for God to be a spirit without a body. God is everywhere.

(Through my head drifts question 4 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, learnt some time in my Presbyterian youth - "God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable...".)

"So does that mean I'm inside God? Is God inside me?" (Great hilarity.)

Well, I guess that would have to be a "yes". We're not there yet, but at least he's getting closer.


Tasmanian said...

My friend without kids yet asked "but how do kids learn about God? How do they understand who He is?" As preschoolers (my experience so far!) I think my kids realise that I believe God is real, so they do too. My two-year-old talks to God because I do. My four-year-old is excited that Jesus is alive because I am. They don't really understand - but of course I don't really understand either. He is someone we don't see, but who loves us. We talk about God because He is a part of our lives. And we answer their questions as best we can. What else would you add to answer my friend?

Jean said...

I think that what you say is a great answer!

Another answer is that we don't talk down to kids. We tell them what they - and we - don't really understand, but which we know is true because God's word, the Bible, tells us so: that God is a spirit (he's invisible, but he's real and he's everywhere); that he is the "Trinity", one God in three persons; that he loved us enough to send his Son to die in our place ... And then, as they grow, they grow into our answers (but never to completely understand them, and that's good too). I wrote more about this issue here.

Another answer for your friend is this: isn't this true about everything we tell our kids? We tell them the world is round and wherever you stand on it, you're standing the right way up - something my 7 year old is completely confused about and asks me about all the time!!! We tell them lots of stuff we know is true and they (and we) don't fully understand. You don't need to completely understand something to know it and trust it, often because you trust the sources it came from (which leads us to my next answer...)

The best answer for your friend, Christian or non-Christian, is, as always, one about Jesus and the Bible, because that's where we want to direct our attention. In the end, we trust and serve God not because we understand him, but because we see him clearly in his Son (his life, death and resurrection) and in the Bible (his revealed word about himself). And if your friend wasn't a Christian, that's where she'd come to know him too.

But in some ways I like your answer best. Your kids are learning from your godly example some amazing things about trusting and loving God.

And I've written so much about this that I think I'd better turn it into a blog post! Can I quote your example?

Love Jean.

Sarah said...

A floating head...that cracked me up. Priceless :)