Social justice is a buzz word that has been tossed around for several years now. In that time, the phrase has been misrepresented, watered down, and even been used as a derogative. But as a Jesus follower and parent, how do we engage in social justice issues as Jesus would have us?
Let’s clear something up before we jump into this topic. Social Justice is near and dear to the heart of God.
- Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how and upright he is!”
- Psalm 89:14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.
- Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
- Psalm 82:3 “Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
- Luke 11:42 What sorrow awaits you, Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
We see the running theme of justice All through scripture. There can be no argument that God cares about the welfare of his children, how they treat each other, and how they steward their God-given gifts.
So how do we instill this sense of Godly justice in our kids?
Share God’s story
I believe we can address all of life’s issues in God’s word. Maybe not every single scenario precisely, but we can take themes in scripture and apply them to broader topics. But justice is one in which we can see specific times where God commands or intervenes on our behalf.
Look at the life of Jesus. In his very first talk, famously called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes several declarations that would have shocked the audience. His first sentence kicking things off, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus launches his earthly ministry by telling the crowd, “Blessed are you that don’t have it all together, that is at the end of your rope. This God kingdom is for you.” (Paraphrase mine) Why? Because if the gospel isn’t for everyone, it’s for no one.
He goes on to say in verse 6, “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. And in verse 4, He says, “God blesses those who mourn for they will be comforted.”
Now verse 6 seems pretty self-explanatory, but what does verse 4 have to do with that? Jesus isn’t calling us to walk around, crying all the time. It’s the idea that we are mourning for the brokenness around us and that mourning drives us to action; that we begin to hunger and thirst for righteousness or justice.
In the Old Testament, we see God setting up laws dealing with foreigners and aliens, the poor, and the fatherless. In the New Testament, deacons (or merely servants) were created to take care of the widowed. Throughout scripture, God is calling us to more than just sitting in a sit and memorizing some sentences. He’s calling us to show the world who he is and how he loves them.
It’s hard to hear “Jesus love you” when your stomach is growling.
Live God’s Story
Matthew 5:9 says, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” We think peace means the absence of conflict. But do a little digging, and it calls for us to pursue peace. In the Hebrew language (the language of Jesus), the root of this peace is shalom. Shalom is wholeness, completeness found in God and God alone. We are to pursue it. We are called to bring His fullness, wholeness, completeness into areas where it is not.
So what is it that creates a holy passion in your life? Where has God gifted you where there is a need? I’ve often heard that our calling is at the crossroads of our passions and their needs. So where is that for you?
For me, it’s families. As the family goes, so goes the culture. If we have healthy, caring families, then we will have a robust and caring culture. If families are falling apart, so will the culture. So I take my passion and try to offer help and resources to those needs. My kids know my passion, and we encourage them to find theirs.
For some, it may be human trafficking, medical missions, adoption/fostering, animals, the homeless, the incarcerated, criminal justice reform, LGBTQ issues, racial inequality, gender equality, the unborn, gentrification, education reform. The list literally could go on and on. The challenge is to find your family’s thing and then LIVE. IT. OUT.
Let your kids see that following Jesus has less to do with a final destination than it does with bringing His kingdom here!
Engage them in God’s Story
Nothing will activate your child’s faith like engaging their talents for God’s mission. Your child is part of Generation Z. And while each generation has its “stuff,” this generation has some remarkable qualities.
My favorite thing about our children’s generation is that they are creators and producers. They don’t just consume content and culture as previous generations did; they create it! They are being labeled as culture creators!
66% of Gen Z believes that it is their job to make the world a better place. How amazing is that? These young people are WORLD CHANGERS! Look at massive demonstrations around the world dealing with the climate crisis. (I’m not talking about your opinion on the matter) Look who is leading the charge for change. It’s kids. Kids and young people are rising all over the world and demanding we treat our planet better. How can that possibly be a bad thing?
Can you imagine what would happen if you took your faith and intersected it with your child’s world changer DNA? They might do just that. See what drives them, equip them to do it, and then get out of their way.
Following Jesus is about so much more than a one-hour service, or what songs we sing, or whether the speaker “feeds us” enough. Following Jesus is a call to be set apart, it’s a call to live; differently, it’s a call to make the world better because we’re here. Engage your kids in that and see what happens.
I dare you.