The Youthfulness of God

Human beings are made in the image of God. This is an inescapable reality for every living person. It is true for the infant in the womb, the new born baby, the toddler, the child, the adolescent, the young adult, the adult, and the elderly. The image of God is something that encompasses the entire lifespan of a person. It is something that permeates everything about a person. The implications of this are staggering on many levels and in many arenas. Today my thoughts were drawn to thinking about the image of God in children. God designed the developmental process to instruct us about himself. He is imaging himself to the world through his creatures in their every stage of life. Thus, children teach us profound things about God. But, what things?

Jeanette Fernandez is an artist that recently posted a blog about creativity, the image of God, and children. Here is an excerpt.

“The younger the child is, the more profound their ability to express who they are in God’s image by simply being themselves. I’ve taught preschoolers for a very long time, I especially like them because I am better able to flow with their constant creativity. A spoon becomes a baby when wrapped in a washcloth; taking what is on hand and creating something of beauty and/or usefulness. A stick becomes a sword, gun, any weapon of choice, (it’s just a boy thing), taking what is on hand and creating something of beauty and/or usefulness. My daughter put a boot on her head when she was around 3 years old, in her mind she looked like a giraffe, what a great expression of imagination. This ability to create is part of who we are in God’s image. We are all made this way and in our ability to be creative, we are only limited by our own lack of imagination and self-consciousness. Pablo Picasso says, “All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.”

G.K. Chesterton has a brilliant quote on the ability of children to rejoice in the ordinary and monotonous. Here is an excerpt from his book, Orthodoxy.

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

So, these two authors point to creativity, joy, freedom, and enjoyment of repetition when meditating on children and the image of God. Jesus seems to focus on on humility and uncomplicated trust (Matt 18:4). I have observed in my children wonder and awe over simple things. My daughter saw the stars for the first time this month. She was astounded. Now she constantly asks me “do you remember the stars?” She wants me to take her outside all the time in the evening so she can look at them. Her awe about the stars is humbling to observe as I so easily pass over their beauty.

I have also observed in my children an inclusive posture toward people. They are so warm and welcoming to everyone. They have not been conditioned by stereotypes and cultural baggage. Their arms are wide open to the world. I also love to watch their carefree existence. In their vocation of play they demonstrate how to engage the moment with glorious indifference to past or future. They also seem to get over things quicker than adults. Grudge holding seems to come with age.  What things have you seen in children that instruct us about God? Do you have any further thoughts about God’s image as it relates to children? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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6 comments

  1. That’s very interesting Kory. I’m aware of the bible passage where Jesus rebukes his disciples for restricting children’s access to him. Jesus then states that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like children. I’ve always assumed that child-like faith is what Jesus is commending. But I wonder if there’s something else now. Also, I’ve always linked childishness with immaturity, so I’ve viewed it as basically bad. But the idea that God is revealing Himself in the developmental stages is compelling also. It seems that it may be another example of ‘the world being pulled over my eyes’ (I watched Matrix again last night). You know, you become so familiar with how things ‘are’, that you miss the meaning behind why they are that way.

  2. I love this observation you make about God’s youthfulness. I get to see this every week with my middle school small group and the others in the ministry. I get to see the innocent and honest conclusions and questions they come up with. It is beautiful! Assuming I get to stick around after graduation, I will be able to be with them until they graduate high school. I’m excited yet apprehensive about watching them grow up. I fear that the things they experience will cause them to lose that innocence.

    1. There is something fresh about the way children think and view the world. Something is definitely lost as we grow older. I like how Chesterton said it in that quote, “we have sinned and grown old, and our father is younger than we.” Thanks for the thoughts.

  3. Psalm 8
    1 O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
    Your glory is higher than the heavens.
    2 You have taught children and infants
    to tell of your strength,[b]
    silencing your enemies
    and all who oppose you.
    b: 8:2 Greek version reads to give you praise. Compare Matt 21:16.

    Matthew 21
    12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”[f]

    14 The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. 15 The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.”

    But the leaders were indignant. 16 They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”

    “Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’[g]”

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