Eric was new to the class. His family had moved into the neighborhood near the church building, and he’d been invited by Alex. As the lesson progressed, Eric seemed interested but uncomfortable. Nannygranne sensed he was self-conscious and felt “behind” in the discussion, and unfamiliar with the story under discussion. Needs overruled structure, so Nannygranne decided to change gears.
“Ok, guys. How about we have a palaver?”
“A what?” Alex asked.
“A group discussion,” Anthony answered. He loved group discussions. Anthony liked to talk.
She had the class circle their desks as she wrote ‘Palaver Place’ on the chalkboard. “Okay, everyone. We each write down a question and pass it to me. I’ll choose one and we’ll discuss that topic.” She handed out index cards. “I’ll give you 60 seconds to write your question. We want plenty of time to talk.” When she took up the papers, she took special note of which one belonged to Eric, curious about what was on his mind.
“Ok, Palaverers. I’m going to choose this question.” With flair, she whipped Eric’s card from the stack and read ceremoniously “What does God look like?”
Nannygranne lowered the card, stood up, and began walking around the circle, dramatically searching every face, scrutinizing hair color, height, even jokingly sniffing the red-headed Destiny’s hair. The students started to giggle, wriggling in their chairs as she came closer to each one.
“What are you DOING!” demanded Anthony.
“Trying to see what God looks like,” she answered.
“We’re not God!” said Destiny stating the obvious.
“But we just studied that God said we were created in His image,” Nannygranne argued.
Silence hung in the room. Eventually, Eric spoke softly. “But we all look so different,” he said, glancing around the room where nobody looked like him.
“Yes, Eric, we are all very different. So, class, how are we made in God’s image yet look so different from one another? Also, Jesus was born in Israel and He looked different from each of us. He was Jewish.”
Jasmine raised her hand, “But aren’t we made to BE like God, not just to look like Him?”
“What do you think, group?”
Alysha agreed, as well as Isabella and Mateo.
“Let me tell you how the Bible describes God. Some of this is pretty scary. Some of it is really cool. Ezekiel said God was brightness all around Him. James said he was the Father of lights. John said when he got to look into Heaven that God looked like someone dressed in a long flowing robe with a golden belt, his hair was snow-white, and his eyes shined like flames of fire!”
The students were mesmerized, hanging on every word.
“But Paul told the Christians in ancient Colossae that God is invisible. Jesus said He came to show us what the Father was like. Jesus also told a Samaritan woman, one day, that God was Spirit and that our worship was to be in spirit and in truth.”
“So, God made us alike on the inside, but different on the outside?” Alex ventured.
“That’s right, Alex. One of the most beautiful things Jesus said about His way of living was that His people are equal. Let me read you some beautiful words the Apostle Paul wrote to a group of Christians in a place called Galatia.
“You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28
Nannygranne lowered her Bible, silent, smiling slightly, looking at each child’s face. “So you see, God doesn’t just see your eye color, hair color, skin color, or body shape. He doesn’t see you as rich or poor. He doesn’t even see you as a boy or a girl. He only sees you as His creation. God has such dreams for you. Before He ever made the universe, He wanted you to want Him and to want to be with Him.”
Then she closed her Bible and said, “Now I have a question: What Does God Look Like?”
Michael, the quiet, thoughtful one of the group, slowly raised his hand and said, “I think God looks like love.”
Indeed, Michael. Indeed.
Scripture References: Colossians 1:15; Revelation 1:13-14; Ezekiel 1:26-28; John 4:24; Exodus 24:10; James 1:17; Matthew 25:34.