Why is an interesting question.
It’s a question we’ve all asked at times. From simple things like “why did the chicken cross the road” or “why do blueberries at times seem more purple than blue” all the way to really important questions like “why do really good people get sick and die” or “why, when there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, why are there still people, including many children, who go to bed hungry at night.” We ask these questions because there is something inside of us that is searching for something greater; there is some great purpose or desire for the world to be a better place. We know that there is a disconnect between what we have always been told, and what we see happening around us. This is not the way the world should be. There has to be a better way; a holier way.
This question of why is an interesting question when we think about children. Why do we have children? Why do we feel compelled to bring children into the world? Are we just trying to fulfill God’s mandate to multiply and fill the earth, or is there more?
My guess is many of us have never really given the question much thought. It just seems natural that at some point, a few years after couples get married, we all assume they will have children. This is probably especially true for any that went to Christian Colleges, where the subliminal message that seems to be sent is “you are here to find a spouse and eventually have children.” For most of us who have children, we probably just always assumed we would, it’s just a part of life.
But I wonder, why do we have children? What do they mean or represent?
Among other things, children are a sign of our hope in the future. Children represent our belief, as Christians, that the future is brighter than the past; that God is active, and God will reign.
I remember vividly when my friend Brian told me he was never going to have children because he couldn’t fathom bringing more children into this evil world. There is war, hatred and violence. There is sickness, disease, and death. There is hunger, homelessness, and abuse. Why would anyone want to bring another person into this awful mess?
On one level I would have to agree. This world is messed up, and I fear for my children (and possibly future grandchildren) that the world I/we are handing them is full of a multitude of problems. If we look at the future with a view of reality, it’s easy to begin to think things will never get better.
But, as Christians, we understand that the reality we see around us is not the true reality. We understand that while we look around us and everything seems like chaos and death, chaos and death are not the future of the world. God is writing a new story: the future is going to be better than the present, and we hope, not in what we see, but in the unseen reality that we know to be true.
That’s part of the message of the book of Revelation: although everything around us looks bleak, God is still directing history and God’s Kingdom will be victorious. The message of Revelation is even when everything seems to be going wrong, don’t fear, the Slaughtered Lamb is victorious and is worthy to open the seals and bring the future of the world to its intended goal.Later, near the end of the book, John sees a vision of a new heaven and a new earth, and John declares that the one seated on the throne says, behold, I am making all things new. Not I will, or I’m trying, but even now as we speak I am making all things new.
Children then are a sign that we believe, and we have hope, that God is still active and working in the world. Children are a sign that we believe God reigns on the throne and God is controlling the course of history and moving history toward an intended goal. And we hope, that perhaps these children will be alive to witness the restoration of all things. We hope, that these children will be the image bearers of God that point toward the new creation. We hope, we believe, that God is making all things new and these children are a sign of our hope.
Why do we have children? Because children are a sign of our hope. We hope in the new creation. We believe that it is breaking in, even now. God is making all things new, and the future, which is also the present, will be full of God’s good things.