This coming Friday, 20th Century Pictures will release a movie about the life of Jesus Christ, entitled Son of God. That title says a lot more than most people will realize when they hear it.
The Bible teaches that God is a single entity, existing in three parts: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Throughout scripture we see God the Father as the creator, the builder, the provider, the decision maker, the one who establishes the laws. He is all powerful and everyone in Heaven and on Earth is subject to his authority. When we’re in danger, He protects us. When we’re uncertain, He directs us. When we call to him, He runs to us and picks us up in His arms. Most people are well aware of the parallel between our Heavenly Father and our earthly father.
God the Holy Spirit is called the comforter. The Holy Spirit comes along side us to encourage us. When we’re sorrowing, we turn to the Holy Spirit with our grief. When we’re broken, the Holy Spirit fixes us. When we face challenges, the Holy Spirit gives us encouragement and the inner strength to face them. Who do we know who’s like the Holy Spirit? Our mothers, of course. Your mother was the one who was always there from the time you got up in the morning until you said your prayers at bed time; and if you cried out in the night, it was your mother who was at your side before you finished crying.
Within this context, Jesus is called God the Son. What can we say about children? First and foremost, we love them. A child can win over even the most hard hearted of people. Children also bring hope with them. No matter how bleak things may be, people everywhere have genuine hope that their children will do better. People sacrifice great things because of the hope that they have for their children.
Children are also unifiers. Just this week, I was reminded of a family vacation that we took to Arkansas when my son was two. While we were there, I saw a poster for a country music festival; so, thinking that it was open to the public, we decided to go. Well, it was open to the public in the same sense that church picnics are open to the public. When we arrived, the music was already playing and there were 200 to 300 people involved in a variety of activities and every one of them lived within 20 miles of the park where the event was being held. Needless to say, we felt very awkward; and in the people around us, we could sense a range of reactions from “What are those yanks doing here?” to “I have no idea what to say to these people.” We probably would have turned around and left except my son immediately began to thoroughly enjoy himself. He clearly loved the blue grass music that was being played; and brought smiles and laughs from the people around us with his huge grin, fiery eyes and 2 year old efforts at clapping and dancing. Eventually, a woman offered, “I think you’ve got a picker there” and that was all it took. We had a delightful afternoon, that I still remember 20 some years later, and we had to tear ourselves away when it was time to go.
We all know that when a conversation is going no where, talk about the kids and you won’t be able to shut people up. Children elicit truth. You don’t lie to a child. Children are a universal symbol of purity. In so many ways, children exemplify the characteristics of Christ.
So what do we learn about Jesus from this that we didn’t already know? We learn that we know Jesus because we know children. We understand who Jesus is because we work so hard to understand our children. We know our Heavenly Father because growing up our lives were consumed with knowing our earthly father. We know the Holy Spirit because of a thousand moments that we shared with our earthly mothers.
God established the “traditional” family as part of His creation. He had a purpose in doing so. He gave us a vehicle for teaching us about himself. When we have that feeling that we know God, we do because we grew up inside of him, as part of Him.
If you’re like most people, though, you’re thinking, “That wasn’t my family experience.”; and it’s true that most of us don’t fully enjoy all that God intended for us. Jesus himself lost his father somewhere between his visit to Jerusalem at age 12 and the beginning of his ministry at age 30. Living in a messed up world doesn’t change the magnificence of what God intended for us, though. Nether does it change his desire to return us to it.