Playing God. Definitely not something most Christians would encourage. However, I've recently found myself faced with how to handle my four year old son wanting to do that very thing. The first time that he told me, “Mama, I’m God.” I laughed and then told him that it was indeed untrue. He went on to say, “No, no, no. I know I’m not really him, I’m just pretending”. Thus started his phase of ‘playing God’. I really didn’t know what to think of it. I knew it was important to ensure he understood that in no way could he ever be God, but at the same time I could see why he was doing it.
One of Corban’s favourite games is playing pretend. Most of the time superheroes are his characters of choice and rarely just one of them at a time. Usually he combines a few heroes together – part Hawkeye, part Captain America; part Optimus Prime, part Bumble Bee, etc – and sometimes The Hulk is enough on his own. It’s humorous to watch him run around (or sometimes go in slow motion) and pretend to fight imaginary villains, he often entertains passers-by too. But when this fairly harmless play (let’s be honest, it’s not always harmless) turned into pretending to be God, I became uncomfortable.
Some parents may have immediately jumped on the issue and squashed the idea. Some might just see no harm in it at all. I tend to try to meet somewhere in the middle – yup, I’m one of those. I certainly don’t want Corban growing up to think that he is God or even ‘God-like’ in attitude, unless of course his God-likeness is humility and servant-hood. Corban, like most children, learns about things through acting them out: superheroes, fire fighters, police, teachers, moms, dads, bakers, cooks, and so on and so on. So why would that be any different for God, one of the most elusive characters/beings/people that is talked about in the house on a regular basis.
My boy, like most boys, has an obsession with the idea of power and strength. Corban wants to pretend to be powerful like God, as if to pin him down as the most powerful superhero of them all. It’s my goal to continue to talk to him about how God really is the most powerful superhero; how we were saved by him because Jesus sacrificed himself. While I understand that it can be fun to emulate God’s power to create pillars of fire, tear down stone walls, separate the sea, help win battles in completely unfair scenarios, I hope to encourage also playing the servant, the healer, the friend, the brother, the teacher, etc.
In the end, I’ve decided to be happy about Corban’s desire to ‘play God’ because I want him to do what he can to understand this God that loves him so much. Corban may not be capable of understanding deep theological matters, but he can understand the best superhero of all wanting to save people. If his mind and heart stay in the right place, then the desire to save people like God does is okay with me.
Amanda Swartz is a young mother and a member of High Point Salvation Army Church in Vic West.
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