“We are kinda like Jesus’ pets.” declared 5 year old Oliver as we drove home from school recently. Quicker than a heartbeat, 7 year old Elliot always the epitome of precociousness responds with clear disdain, “NO! He is the shepherd. WE are the sheep.” “That’s what I just said!” Oliver all but yells with clear exasperation. I had to jump in. Not so much because I have something worthwhile to add but more to head off the proverbial I am right and you are wrong thread I see coming. I was marveling in Oliver’s analogy wanting to just sit with it. But it was more important that they know they were both correct. Yes, Jesus cares for us as we care for our pets. Yes, Jesus loves us beyond measure as many of us love our pets. So far so good. Where I lost ground, going too far, was attempting to once again explain metaphor to Oliver. Oliver and I visit the metaphor discussion frequently. As an avid conversationalist who likes to have the last word as well as make stuff up he frequently hears me say “You are pushing the envelope.” Unlike Elliot who often recites some random obscure fact which provides no room for conversation as I have no idea what he is talking about. Oliver seems to question everything. Elliot not so much.
I don’t know if it is Oliver’s age, personality, or that he just thinks out loud, my guess is it is a combination of all of these but lately he has become the family theologian. It is not uncommon for Oliver to state with authority as we drive either to or from school seemingly out of no where “God is always with us!” or “God keeps his promises!” Likely our driving by the littles church as part of our regular daily route helps bring Sunday school and all that goes with it to mind.
As thankful as I am for the rich opportunity Oliver’s declarations provide for further examination and discussion of God and Jesus with my grandsons, he has no idea the depth he provides me for challenging theological reflection. Thanks be to God.