I was just having dinner with my 4 year old daughter and I had just blessed the food when she declared “I don’t think Jesus is real.”
Now, my wife and I weren’t too surprised as our Christian teaching in the house had been few and far between before a couple months from this point. We have definitely been trying to learn ourselves how to teach our kids Christianity now.”Well”, I said, “why don’t you think Jesus is real?”
“Because you can’t see him”, she declared.
She nodded yes, but then said “I still don’t think he’s real.”
I then said, “Well, some things you can see aren’t always real either.”
She said “Like what?”
She then gasped and said “No! Unicorns are real!” (This one’s a big My Little Pony fan.)
“Have you seen any unicorns around?”, I said.
“No, but I’ve seen their pictures.”
“Jesus has pictures too…all over the place and I believe he’s more real than unicorns.”
She then got excited and asked if I had any pictures of Jesus. I remembered that I had a few photos of icons of Jesus Christ on my phone. So I brought up them and showed them to her. One was the transfiguration, one was his baptism and one was his death on the cross. She then declared “He is real!”
“Told ya!” I said. “Jesus did lots of things. He healed people and taught them about God, His dad. Jesus Himself was God.”
I know it’s not the most sound logic, but it made me think of the importance of icons. They bring the reality of the gospel into our frame of reference. For a 4 year old, it’s a big deal to be able to see what is real. She can’t read and she doesn’t quite grasp theology, but she knows that she can see Jesus and recognize Him. I guess it’s like a primer for our understanding of God and what He does in is and through us.
And who knows…maybe unicorns ARE real.