For Christmas, we gave our girls and four of their friends a "spy sleepover." Tonight, I'll have six little girls in my house cracking codes, completing missions and saving the world. My girls love to play spy. They like sneaking around and peeking around corners to see what other people are doing. Sometimes they write down what they see in their spy journals.
Too, often, I think, our kids see God as something of a spy. From the time they are little, we talk to our kids about how God can see everything and He knows everything. Too many time, kids can take those characteristics and create an inaccurate picture of God. If we aren't careful to point out the many characteristics of God including His unconditional love and amazing grace, then our kids are left to fill in the blanks of God's character with their own imaginations.
Sometimes, our kids come up with a picture of God that makes Him seem like a spy. They see Him as this all-powerful being who is just waiting for them to mess up. He can see everything, and when He sees them mess up, He writes it down in His "spy journal." That's not an accurate picture of God, and it's not one that we want our kids to have. It makes God seem like he's out to "get" us.
When we give our kids a complete picture of God's character, we reveal an all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves us and desires to have a relationship with us despite our unworthiness. Romans 5:8 says "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." That's the picture we want to create for our children.
- Find out what kind of picture your kids have created of God. Ask them what they think God is like. Have them write it down or draw a picture. This is a great starting point for you to understand which parts of God's character your kids are missing out on. If they've created a picture of a sneaky, spying God, you'll know that you need to focus your conversation on God's love and grace. If they create a picture that's all love and compassion, you might need to introduce some conversation about God's love of justice and righteousness.
- Understand that creating a picture of a one-dimensional God doesn't benefit our kids. God is so much bigger than we can understand. If we create a one-dimensional picture of Him, then we make God small. If we can completely describe and understand God, then we have made our picture of Him too small. God doesn't fit in any "box" we can create, and if He does then we have an inaccurate picture of Him.
- Talk with your kids about the different aspects of God's character. Ask your kid to describe her best friend in detail. Have her focus on the character qualities that make up her friend's personality. Talk about how important it is to a relationship to really know the other person. Talk about what happens when she makes an assumption about her friend's personality that isn't true. Then ask her to describe God, focusing on His character qualities. Talk with your child about their description of God. Flesh out any areas that she is missing. Talk about how just like with knowing our friends, it's important to know God's character so we can have a close relationship with Him.
Remember, God is not a spy, watching and waiting for you to screw up. He loves you and wants to have a relationship with you, but the only way He can do that is if we seek to know Him better and understand all facets of His character.