Friday, February 11, 2011

God questions from a 6 year old

This week, a colleague of mine sent me an email. She explained that her 6 year old son had been asking her questions about God, and could I help answer them. I wrote back as soon as I could with the following response.

(NB I have edited it lightly, by gathering my footnotes in the "footer")

Who is God and how was he born?

I’ll try to relate this in language that a 6 year old can understand, but I’ve put in some “adult” notes to try to help you make sense of it, too.

I’ll stick to the Bible on this, but I think it is fair to say that different people and different religions have very different views, and they are not all the same. Not everybody is going to agree on this (1).

God is bigger, and stranger, than any of us can possibly imagine. If you can imagine how big the universe is, then you also need to imagine that the universe exists within God to get an idea of just how big He is. That means that we will never fully understand everything there is to know about Him. However, we can know Him. You might not be able to understand everything about your Mum and Dad, but you know them because you talk to them, you know what they like and what they don’t like and in many ways you are just like them (2).

So, God created the universe, the world and you and me. We live in the world that God has created. God was there before the universe started, He is there now, and He will be there after it has finished. God wasn’t born and He will not die. He was always God and He always will be. This is one thing that’s very different between God and us (3).

One day, God decided that he wanted us to see Him as He truly is. He knew that we could look at all the stars and read all the books and ask everybody who knew something about Him, but it would never be like actually meeting Him. So, He came into our world. He came as a baby that grew into a man – Jesus Christ, who was born on Christmas Day, died on Good Friday and rose again on Easter Sunday. Finally, we could see for ourselves what He is like (4).

If I were God, and I were to come into the world that I made and ruled over, I think I would make myself King. I think I would set myself up in the most expensive palace, and I’d get my servants to run around after me, doing all the chores, doing all the boring stuff, and looking after my interests.

When the real God came into our world, He did things differently. Instead of getting us to serve Him, He served us. Instead of grabbing all the toys for Himself, He gave everything away. Instead of setting Himself up in a Royal Palace, He made Himself homeless. Instead of setting things up so that He could live forever, He died on a cross so that we could live. The story doesn’t end there, though. The Bible tells us He was raised to life, and He lives today.

So, when you ask me “who is God”, the face that comes to my mind is the face of Jesus. When you ask me “what is he like”, the story that comes to my mind is the story of Jesus.

There’s a poem in the Bible that was written shortly after Jesus had come to our world. It tells us how we should react to this story:

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.
He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.
Not at all.
When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!
Having become human, he stayed human.
It was an incredibly humbling process.
He didn't claim special privileges.
Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11. This version from “The Message”. See also the NIV translation for a more “formal” rendering.

1 Some people have tried to reconcile the world’s religions through syncretism. IMO, syncretism doesn’t work, and we just have to come to terms with the fact that the religions cannot be reconciled theologically
2 Much of this stems from the opening chapter of the Bible in Genesis 1, particularly Genesis 1:27. Also, there is a difference between understanding and knowing, and anyone who claims to fully understand God has plainly lost the plot.
3 Much of this stems from the title “Alpha and Omega” that is applied to God in Revelation 1:8, and a slew of other verses that I regularly refer to when I contend with people who insist that God was created, or that he had his own heavenly father and mother, e.g. Mormonism.
4 This is what theologians call the Incarnation – the Word made flesh, as in John 1:14.


  1. Now I understand why you dont believe in the Bible, or think revelation is wrong and Job is a myth, You quote from the Message. That is not a bible and it is filled with much error and the author is a fraud.

  2. Rick,

    I published your posts thus far in the hope that we could have a respectful, knowledgeable exchange. Your latest contribution (above) confirms that my hope was misdirected.

    Until you find something intelligent to write, you can spray your brainless graffiti on someone elses' wall.