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.