After years of teasing my niece about it, I am a Facebook convert. My resistance started to crumble one day about seven months ago, when a friend sent an invitation to join and then view pictures of her baby. I sat there for a minute and thought I'll just click on through here so that I can lay my eyes on that baby. And I started clicking away, "yes, yes, yes, okay, yes, yes, I agree..." You know how it goes. But what I did not realize was that I had clicked "yes" to sending everyone in my address book a friend request. Since I have never cleaned out my address book, many people heard from me for the first time in ten years in a message asking to be my friend. Talk about embarrassing. Talk about feeling like you are suddenly back in the third grade. Of course, despite the humiliation it was fun to see the "friends" trickle in.
But Facebook really is pretty cool. I like knowing what's going on in the lives of old friends, and I like how you can easily share articles. I am friends with one of my law school professors, and he's a major news source for me now. If he posts an article on Facebook I know it is worth reading. But my initial rationale for joining is still the best thing about Facebook--seeing those babies! Two friends posted newborn pictures in the last few days and I cannot get enough of looking at those precious ones.
I have always loved babies. I remember being totally fascinated by them as a little girl--marveling at their tiny hands, their expressive little mouths, and their heavenly scent. I was the youngest in my family and there weren't any cousins younger than me (well, Cassie, but she is only 24 days younger than me), and my parents didn't have any friends with babies. Other than longingly peering into the nursery at church, I was never around babies.
But finally when I was nine years old, my cousin Clay was born. I can vividly picture him snuggled up in his Moses basket. I remember feeling, with a nervous finger, the soft spot on his tiny head, and the thrill of holding him in my arms. Then five years later I became an aunt to Caitlin Suzanne Staples and anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that I have always been NUTS about that girl. And by the way, any twentysomething eligible bachelor out there with the last name of Lewis and a love for Jesus is entitled to a blind date with C.S. all expenses paid by yours truly.
But what is it about babies that is so special? Is it just that they are small? Is it just that they smell so good? It's more than that, isn't it? I believe part of it has to do with image-bearing (please see this post for a fuller discussion of image-bearing). Even though we are all born with a sin nature, youth has an undeniable innocence, most manifested in that brand new life. Our adult reflection of God Almighty is marred and dimmed by our everpresent pride, but there's no such pretense in a newborn. They are completely helpless.
Maybe we could all be better image-bearers by admitting to that same helplessness. Jesus told us that apart from him we can do nothing. (John 15). Striving to be a better image-bearer or a better person is useless. Therapy and self-help may achieve small outward improvements, but you cannot remove your heart of stone with human effort. It is only through faith in Jesus that our hearts are purified. (Acts 15:9). But praise God, when we admit our helplessness, God doesn't leave us there. We aren't left flailing away in our newborn faith, instead God pours his love into hearts. (Romans 5:5).
And you know what's even better? He never stops pouring!