For the next few days, I’ll be re-posting some of my favorite posts from my old site.  Today’s post, “Shalom Seeking” was a part of my kids and social justice series last fall. Just re-reading it has made me thankful for the CCDA for dispelling the mystery around social justice.  It’s as simple as brokenness made whole.  Today we’ll re-visit how I talk to my children abut social justice using the language of “shalom” and Micah 6:8.

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Two weeks ago I watched portions of the RNC. Last week I viewed an equal amount of the DNC. I’ve been subjected to messages approved by candidates ad nauseum–and it’s only September. Last night I fell asleep to a documentary on CNN claiming to reveal the “real” Mitt Romney. At 3am, I woke up on our couch to a similar documentary about President Obama before shuffling off to my bed.

I hate that the elections taint my favorite season.

I usually love Autumn. The crisp cool air, the kaleidoscope of colors on the trees, the warm fleece pullovers, the scented candles, and the pumpkin spice lattes all comfort me–except for the fall of an election year–even a double pumpkin spice latte can’t make up for the sense of unrest the campaigns bring me. We are in entering a season where scathing rhetoric abounds and emotions run high. Where promises are made and shortcomings are exposed. Where the candidates giving their party’s political battle cry drowns out the raspy, broken voices of the ones who need a Champion–not a candidate.

And while this post is not about politics, I’d be ignoring the big ‘ole elephant in the room of the reality that the moment you begin speaking about social justice you’re bound to be identified as a member of a certain political party and not a follower of Jesus.

This should not be.

It’s taken me a long time to get to the place where I’m convinced that Christ has modeled a ministry of social justice to us.  I see time and time again through His earthly ministry that our calling as believers to genuinely and sacrificially love all people. Regardless of the color of their skin, their physical or mental ability, their educational background, their socio-economial status or their sexual orientation — we are called to proclaim the gospel that they matter, that they are wanted, and they are loved unconditionally.

This Christ-like love transcends labels. It restores dignity, inspires holiness, and repairs brokenness. Christ came to love the unlovable, champion the underdog, and relieve the oppressed. So if I claim to follow this beautiful Redeemer who died on a cross not because he angered a few officials, but because he disrupted their comfort by loving the “least of these”, then I’m responsible to seek social justice and more the the point of this post, teach my children to seek and restore justice.

I think the problem with the term “social justice” is that it can mean so many different things. I have to admit even with my experience as an urban minister, I’ve struggled with this as I’ve thought through how to teach my kids what it means to stand for justice. Is social justice about programs or processes? Is social justice about protesting and parading? Is social justice about politics and policies? Or is justice about proclamations and promises? I’ve landed on this last idea, more specifically, the proclaiming Jesus’ love and the promises of restoration in his teaching. It has informed me and led me seek resources that teach the principle that we as believers are called to pursue God’s Shalom in this world.

I love how the Community of Christian Development Association (CCDA) puts it:
The good news is that God longs to work through us to help restore things to the way they were intended to be. In the language of the Old Testament, this wholeness is called shalom—a state where nothing is missing and nothing is broken.

So as I’ve put together a living curriculum of social justice, I’ve replaced that weighty phrase with “shalom”. It has freed me from all the implications the world has placed on “social justice” and invited me into the ministry Jesus has called me.

Coming to this new way of thinking has illuminated a few scriptures for me.

On Wednesday, I’ll give you ideas on how to act on those passages in your everyday life with your children and then on Friday I’ll give suggestions of how to seek shalom locally and review “The Good Fun Book”.

The most meaningful Scripture to me in teaching Shalom to my kids is Micah 6:8

Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

This is the bedrock of my living curriculum. So I’ll break down how I talk to my kids by the three requirements.

To act justly: I try not to equate fairness with justice because to a seven year old, fairness is getting what he wants and not creating wholeness. So, when I talk about justice, I talk about peace. Peace is the wholeness Jesus seeks in this world. I try to ask, “What needs to happen so that there is peace in any given situation?” I remind them that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that he desires us to be peacemakers. A homeless person is not at peace because they do not have a stable, safe place to live. How can we bring peace to this person? A bullied friend at school does not have peace because he’s being called names and at times beaten. How can we bring peace to this person? There are hungry kids during lunch/snack time at school. They are not at peace because their stomachs are growling. How can we bring peace to these kids? Your friend is crying because you called them a name. They are not at peace because you hurt their feelings.  How can we bring peace to them?

To love mercy: This to me in it’s most basic sense is living from an attitude of forgiveness and forbearance. I remind them that God is slow to anger and quick to forgive —so we should be too. We have an active forgiveness routine in our family. I try to quickly ask for forgiveness from my kids when I mess up, and when there is conflict I walk them through asking for and then offering forgiveness. Lately Tyson has been asking, “what if someone doesn’t ask for forgiveness or won’t forgive you when you ask?” He’s in the thick of tween conflict with friends and he’s trying to figure out how to love mercy when all you want is to “get them back!”. This is where forbearance comes in, I ask him to be willing to forgive or not stay angry even if you can’t resolve the issue. I encourage him that “to love mercy” means to be willing to suffer for the sake of peace in the relationship. His extension of mercy in the face of relational injustice reflects God’s mercy towards us,”But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8, and hopefully his friend(s) will want to come to know Jesus because of his example of mercy. I do encourage boundaries, but I do not encourage bitterness.

To walk humbly before your God Ah, humility. It’s a tough one to teach kids, because humility asks us to recognize our lowly state in comparison to God’s greatness and all I want to do as a mama is tell my kids how awesomely wonderful they are. But, instead of full on heaping total depravity on them, I believe God wants me to elevate all people in their eyes. I’m convinced that to walk humbly before my God means to recognize that he deeply loves not just me–but all people
. God didn’t just create me in his image–I am a fellow image bear-er with every other person on this planet. Jesus died on the cross–not just for me but for all mankind–past, present, and future. Viewing myself and teaching my kids to view ourselves more corporately than individually helps us maintain perspective. Our favorite saying is, “but for the grace of God.” But for the grace of God we could have found ourselves in any given broken state. So when we talk about the homeless, the hungry kids in Africa, the bullies on the playground or anyone we’re tempted to feel are below us because of their status or sinfulness, I begin with emphasizing their worth to God. This puts us in a humble posture before our God and restores dignity to his precious children.

I know, we all want to raise children whose hearts are attuned to the needs of others. But how to do that is sometimes tricky to figure out.  Let’s take a lesson from Yo-Yo Ma, one of my favorite musicians.  In an interview at Harvard he said,  a musician’s greatest responsibility is to be an advocate for the composer. The composer has written a piece of music with a specific intent, story, or emotion. Through his instrument, Yo-Yo Ma seeks to be an advocate for the composer. He seeks to play his cello in such a way that you can clearly hear the heart of the composer, know his story, and seek out more of his music. That is my goal as a believer in this fallen world. My God has written a beautiful composition of peace, hope, love, and wholeness. His is the greatest Story of all time. Through seeking his shalom, I can be an advocate that reveals God’s heart, invites the broken to know him better, and leave them seeking out more of Him.

This is why I teach my children about social justice and this weeks’ post are so exciting to me. I hope these thoughts help as you process how to approach teaching your children about social justice or compassion or as I like to call it Shalom. It’s all the same thing. I hope you see that seeking God’s Shalom in this broken world transcends parties, policies, or programs.

It’s an opportunity for those of us most attuned to the heart of God to play his beautiful music for an awaiting audience.

Seeking Shalom,
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