by Gloria Furman
The other day I caught my 5-year-old coloring belly buttons onto the midriffs of characters in her children’s Bible.
One of the illustrations in her children’s Bible depicted a belly button-less Jesus, which she aptly amended with a green marker.
“I fixed it! God’s Son has a belly button forever!”
My jaw dropped.
How did she find where I hid the markers? And what else has she been “fixing?” were my first thoughts.
My next thought was how it is a precious, precious thing to affirm the truth of the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ. I wanted to seize this belly button conversation to talk with my little artist about Christology (the “study of Christ”).
Our conversation went as many of our conversations go…
Me: Did you know that it is a really big deal that Jesus has a belly button forever? It means that he is a real human being just like us and that he is also fully God!”
5-yr-old: Yes! Jesus is Jesus forever. Can I keep coloring?
Me: Sweetie, we don’t normally draw in our books.
5-yr-old: You write in your books all the time. And actually, I color in my coloring books. I have a princess coloring book, a Christmas coloring book, a…
3-yr-old sister: Crayons and markers are for paper only, Yaya! You in trouble!
5-yr-old: I know that! You sometimes don’t know that! Mom, do you remember when Norah drew on the door in the…
Me: Hey, hey, hey, take your hands off each other (they started to grapple like wrestlers). Listen. Aliza, I loved what you said about how Jesus has a belly button forever. It’s so important that we appreciate how Jesus is totally God and he is a real human being. What do you th…
5-yr-old: Jesus has a belly button from his umbilical cord just like me! He was attached to a placenta just like me. I saw a picture of a placenta that had blood on it in a book. Can I have the marker back for just one second?
3-yr-old sister: Un-biblical cord! Un-biblical cord! Mommy, I’m thirsty. I’m getting my cup now becau… [intercepted by older sister] [shrieking and grappling ensue]
5-yr-old: She not supposed to get in the fridge! She’s trying to get in the fridge! Mo-o-o-om! [more shrieking, some tears]
Me: Girls, if you’re thirsty then you ask me for a drink and then sit in your chairs.
[I physically pry 3-yr-old off of lower shelf in fridge. 5-yr-old sits down. They glare at each other. I get drinks. Christology conversation is paused until next time.]
Why it’s not totally scary to talk about Christology with your kids
It is such a joy to talk with kids about Jesus! It’s a beautiful thing to see their child-like faith swim around in the deep waters of theology, boldly asking questions and sincerely expressing their awe. They’re not afraid to ask questions about God; they’re also not afraid to respond with integrity! I wonder if perhaps this is part of what it means to have “child-like” faith.
I’ll admit, though, that sometimes it scares the daylights out of me to talk with my kids about spiritual things. I used to feel like I had to have all the answers for them and be able to explain things perfectly. Now, when I tell them that there are things about God that are so magnificent and so wonderful that they are hard for Mommy to understand, they seem to relate to me.
“We need God’s help to help us get to know him,” I regularly remind them (and myself).
Until the day when we will know fully, even as we have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12), God has given us sufficient help to get to know him through his word, the Bible, and through the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Spirit guides people into truth, and one of his “jobs” is to bear witness about Jesus (John 15:26) in Scripture and the things we see in the world God created.
We can confidently depend on the third person of the Trinity to bear witness to our children as we faithfully talk about Jesus from Scripture.
Incidentally, we can also depend on the Spirit to empower us to bear his fruits of kindness and patience when talking to our kids is difficult!
Helpful Tip: Use Scripture and Christian creeds/confession as talking points
Here are just a few places in Scripture and in the Christian creeds/confessions that can jump start discussions with your kids about Christology. Depending on their age and comprehension you can read the Bible verses with them and ask questions about what they understand.
(Note: The list below is not in any particular arrangement, neither is it exhaustive by any means.)
- Some people believe that Jesus wasn’t a real human being who had a body. But in the Bible it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). So, the Word of God, “was made flesh.” This is flesh (point out arms, legs, tummies, etc). Let’s name all the things that are our flesh (bones, skin, organs, blood, etc). What are some things that you do with your body? (eat, drink, walk) What are some of the things we see in the Bible that show us how Jesus had a real body?
- It was physically impossible for the virgin Mary, Jesus’ mother, to become pregnant. That’s why when the Son of God became a baby inside her belly it was an unprecedented, never repeated miracle of God! That means that nobody else was ever born this way. An angel appeared to Mary and said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Some people think that God and Mary had a relationship like a married couple and that’s how the Son of God became a baby, and that Jesus was just a regular man. What does this Bible verse say?
- What day is your birthday? What year were you born? How many years old are you now? So you’ve been alive for ___ years now. Here’s something really special and important about the Son of God. The Son of God existed before he was even growing as a baby inside of Mary’s belly. Jesus claimed that he existed even before Abraham was born (John 8:58)! He existed before time even began—that’s part of what it means when we say that the Son of God is eternal.
- The Son of God did not have to stop being God in order to become a human being. The Bible says that Christ is the same yesterday today and forever (Hebrews 3:8). “He is the Son of God, not only from the time that he assumed our nature, but from all eternity” (TBC). Jesus Christ is “the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father” (WCF). Can you think of any miracles that Jesus did to show us that he is God?
- Do you know what a mediator is? It’s somebody who helps heal relationships that are broken. Remember how this morning you didn’t want to be friends with your sister? You needed Mommy to help you two come together. The Bible says that we are enemies of God and we need someone to help us be friends with God. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus is “very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man” (WCF). Do you know why our relationship with God is broken? Do you know how the Son of God became the Mediator between us and God?
And when the sippy cups are flying and nobody seems to want to talk, you can always sing! Jesus “is that true, eternal, and almighty God, whom we invoke, worship and serve” (TBC). There is no one like him. Come on kids, let’s sing praises to him!
* WCF = quoted from The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), “Of Christ the Mediator,” Chapter 8, II; BC = quoted from The Belgic Confession (1561), “That Jesus Christ is true and eternal God,” Article 10.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gloria (@gloriafurman) is mostly from Texas. In 2008 she moved to the Middle East with her husband Dave to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai. They have three fun kiddos and Gloria enjoys serving the ladies in her community as a doula. Gloria is the author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home (Crossway 2013).