Have you seen the children’s show Bluey? In one episode, Bluey and her little sister, Bingo, convince their dad, Bandit, to play along with their game and pretend he was born “yesterday.” Bandit, being a good sport, goes along with their antics.
As they go about their day, Bandit is delightfully confused by everyday things like private property and the sun. The girls instruct him on how to deal with each thing he encounters, and he plays along, immersing himself in their world and seeing it through their eyes.
What stands out in the episode is a moment when Bandit holds a leaf up to the sun and stares at it in wonder. The sunlight embosses the veins, turning the ordinary into something magical. After playtime is over, Bandit’s wife catches him still gazing at the leaf, completely entranced. “I feel like a new dog!” he exclaims as he finally comes back to reality.
Bandit’s innocent wonder as he holds that leaf is why I spend so much time talking about creation with kids. Why emphasize this tiny portion of Scripture? Why obsess over the intricacies of a passage every churchgoer already knows? If we want our kids to experience the world through new eyes, there’s nothing more useful than a solid grounding in the story of creation. Here are three reasons why.
1. Teaching Genesis fosters biblical literacy.
Cover to cover, the Bible is filled with references to the book of Genesis. You can hardly find a page of Scripture that can be understood without some knowledge of the Bible’s first book. Each of Genesis’s first 11 chapters (except chap. 8) is referenced directly in the New Testament, and every New Testament author refers to this grouping of chapters at least once.
Creation is one of the special covenant moments in the history of God’s people that form their relationship with him. Genesis’s early chapters have so formed the imagination of the biblical authors that they come back to them again and again.
Genesis’s early chapters have so formed the imagination of the biblical authors that they come back to them again and again.
It’s well understood that all Scripture is a story about Jesus. It’s equally true, but less often understood, that creation forms the context for this story. The truth is self-evident, which is why it’s often missed. All Scripture (and all of life) takes place in the context of God’s creation. This can be as simple as showing kids differing views on the details of the creation story. When we show them we can disagree on interpretation while affirming essential truths like “God is creator,” we reinforce for them that the Bible is trustworthy from cover to cover. If your kids know Genesis’s stories and are formed by them, they’ll be better prepared to read fruitfully from the whole Bible. When they see how God’s Word holds together, they’ll be ready to fall in love with the One who holds the world together.
2. Teaching Genesis fosters biblical identity.
It’s not just the Bible we want our kids to understand. We want them to see themselves, and all life, in its light.
Genesis helps kids learn what it means to be human. We learn humans are the climax of God’s creation work, and we learn that the creation of the woman is the pinnacle of the creation of humans. We learn humans are made from dirt and God’s breath, an unlikely combination that results in the miracle of life. We see God giving us bodies as a gift. We see God creating with endless variety. We see his affection for all he has made, and we learn to trust in his affection for us as well.
All these truths run counter to the world’s assumptions, biases, and ideologies. If we don’t intentionally provide our kids with a creation lens on life, they’ll falter. But by placing the gospel within the Bible’s creation framework, we see Christ’s story with its all-encompassing and life-giving texture. Your kids need to see there’s nothing abstract about the gospel, and a robust understanding of creation will help.
3. Teaching Genesis fosters a sense of wonder.
Consider Psalm 104:10–13:
You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills;
they give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
For the psalmist, these words flow freely, but we rarely hear such phrases in contemporary prayers. You could attend church for decades and never hear anyone pray or sing about thirsty donkeys and songbirds.
That’s a loss. Our attention always limits our affection. We certainly can’t give our kids affection while denying them attention. Likewise, our attention to the Maker’s work is a limiting factor in our affection for him. Our kids will encounter countless wonders in their lives. The only question is whether we’ve trained them to ride the wave of wonder to a place of deep gratitude and affection for their Maker.
Our kids will encounter countless wonders in their lives. The only question is whether we’ve trained them to ride the wave of wonder to a place of deep gratitude and affection for their Maker.
There’s too much cynicism in the world. Often, there’s more than enough cynicism in the church as well. At least part of the antidote is raising kids who are enthralled by God’s creation, enraptured by the wonders of the Maker.
When we teach our kids to look at the ordinary through the lens of God’s goodness, they’ll see it embossed by the light of his glory. When we do that intentionally, consistently, and tenaciously, we just might see them, like Bandit, holding a leaf up to the sun for hours. And when kids experience wonder like that, you’ll know you’re laying a foundation that can last a lifetime.