Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Child of God

I have been looking at Scripture passages that deal with faith formation in children. Quickly flipping through the Bible I came across three interesting examples.

First, Joshua (though we are not actually told his age) who serves under Moses. In Exodus 33:11 says. "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent."

Then we have Samuel who was dedicated to the Lord and served under the priest Eli. In 1 Samuel 3:1-3 it says that, "The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was."

Then of course we have Jesus who stayed back to be "about his father's business" in the Temple.

Are these images of "special" children? Are these images in any way paradigmatic of childhood faith formation? If so, the images remind me of an aspect of Jesus's parables recently highlighted to me. Even in some of Jesus's harshest judgment parables the characters under judgment begin within the boundaries of the Kingdom. They are already invited, they are already servants of the King.

Does this then affect our understanding of the Fall, of the sinful child? If our body is the Temple then the unborn child remains in the presence of God (I suppose this begs the question of the extent to which that Temple can be "defiled"). Is infant baptism a gesture of placing the child in the Temple, in the body of Christ? Does our life become a series of "Temples" that move outward (or inward) in concentric circles until our body itself begins to bear the Temple?

Just some thoughts that were raised from these passages.

This just reminded me of a time I was in training at a Youth For Christ drop-in centre. The leader asked one of us how we should view the youth. One of us answered, "As a child of God." The leader said he was wrong.
How should Samuel have been viewed given that "Samuel did not yet know the Lord" (1 Sam 3:7)?


Dave said...

Interesting thoughts and I think many distinct issues involved. With regard to your examples I guess one would first have to determine whether or not these are meant as examples or as norms. Joshua, Samuel and Jesus were all called to special and holy offices.
Also, it is necessary to note that in the Bible (both OT and NT) there is special emphasis on the family. I really don't know what the status of all children is (i.e., are they all children of God). In the OT the covenant promises were passed on from parents to their children which was signified by circumcision. As a proponent of infant baptism, I think the same dynamic takes place under the New Covenant, which is evident by the fact that whole households are baptized in the NT (see especially Acts 2:39: "For the promise is to you and to your children . . ." also 16:33)
I'm not sure about the idea of infant baptism as "placing" the child in the Temple. I think that the baptism of my children signified that they have received the promises of God.
Sorry this is so random. Any particular reason for all of this talk of children, Dave?

Unknown said...

a major part of my job description is working with the birth to 25 bracket of the congregation. there are a few times when i am supposed to "resource" the parents, which should be interesting.

i don't have too much further to add to this observation. i just thought it was significant given the relatively low amount of discussion on specific children in the Bible.

Perhaps I could push and look to Moses. I would have to check again but I thought the word for basket was the same as the one for ark.