In the sixth in a series of articles from Through-Lines: Defining What a Christian Is – Christians act as justice-seekers by identifying and responding to injustices.
What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
—Micah 6:8 (NIV)
Our culture understands that a “Good Samaritan” does good deeds and seeks justice for those who are hurting. Have you ever looked at the reason Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan? An expert in the law quizzes Jesus on the requirement for eternal life. Jesus responds with a question back asking about what the scriptures say. The expert quotes from the books of Moses and Jesus affirms him. Then the man asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Let’s stop there for a moment.
Our world is broken, and people hurt. Sin is anything that separates us from relationship with God and with other people, so the focus of justice-seeking becomes restoration. We can’t just let injustice happen! We need to teach our children to see injustice and then to act against it. The Bible leaves no doubt that Christian lives must be lives of justice-seeking. It is the first requirement listed in answer to Micah’s question, “What does the Lord require of you? “
So how do we teach justice? A big part of justice-seeking is intentionally showing care, building build trust, showing respect and openly expressing faith. Model those actions by honoring and listening to the voices of children and tweens by creating circle conversation where each person can talk and hear the voices of others. When something bad happens, model restorative practices by asking “What happened?” instead of why it happened, and instead of punishment, ask and look for a solution to “What can be done now to make it better?”
Another step in loving comes by valuing the stories of all people–neighbors next door, neighbors around the world, those who have been harmed and those who have harmed. Teach children stories of other cultures and show them maps of countries around the world. How can children pray for the global community if they don’t know the who and the where?
At the end of the Samaritan story, Jesus asked who the real neighbor was. The expert of the law defined the real neighbor as the one who showed pity. Jesus then told him (and us) to go and do the same, so then justice-seeking works together with servant-working and community-building. Find ways to connect children with others that create relationship. Does your church have a mentorship program? Do you have family service opportunities that give children a chance to service? If we expect our children to be justice-seekers as adults, we need to find opportunities now for learning care, trust, respect and service.