When people ask me my favourite book of the Bible, they’re often surprised when I answer “Leviticus.” At first glance, Leviticus seems like a long 27 chapters of rules that we don’t follow anymore. It can take significant digging to appreciate its beauty and the attention it draws towards God’s holiness. My appreciation for it is deeply rooted in Leviticus 19:18, from where Jesus draws his commandment to love our neighbours, and Leviticus 25 where we see the vision to care for our neighbours by creating a society that lifts them out of oppression and debt. Leviticus draws us into God’s heart for justice.
Justice is a key theme in the Bible. Justice is about making things right, and pursuing God’s vision of wholeness. And justice is a vision we need to incorporate into our families. Reading through the Bible reveals God’s heart for justice, and the invitation he has for each of us to right wrongs so that we can all experience God’s flourishing.
There is something hard-wired into our children that makes them concerned about justice. It often comes out in that infamous line that none of us as parents want to hear: “That’s not fair!” As a dad with four kids, I hear that line way too often! But it reminds me that they’re concerned about making things right, and I believe as parents we can use their concern for justice to draw them closer to Jesus. Here are some ideas to help you root your children in justice.*
Find causes that matter to your child
As we look to introduce our children to God’s flourishing, it’s important that we find causes that matter to them. One of our kids used his birthday party one year to collect gifts for a local homeless shelter. That cause matters to him because he can see the shelter, it’s in our city. Our daughter has raised money for Canadian Baptist Ministries because I have travelled with that organization. That organization matters to her because she has seen my participation.
Serve together as a family
My favourite volunteers on mission tours have always been parents. There is something meaningful that happens when a parent gives up a week of their summer to serve alongside their student. They have deep experiences together. For the last several Tidal Impacts, I’ve taken one of my children. It has been a great opportunity to serve alongside them and experience events through their eyes. Is there an organization that your family can support together? Give a call to a local organization and see if there are ways that you can volunteer as a family.
Spend time talking about the experience
Justice initiatives are far more likely going to stick when it is not simply seen as an event, but as a process. Prepare your children ahead of an experience, during the experience, and after the experience.
Spend time praying with your children
Prayer is an opportunity for us to draw close to God’s heart, and to be reminded of what concerns God. What breaks God’s heart should also break ours. As you pray with your children, perhaps you could use a world map, and spend time praying for different areas in the world. Check out CBM’s prayerline and sign up to receive weekly prayer emails.
As parents, we want to point our children towards Jesus and show them the ways that Jesus is active in our world. We want our children to understand and experience the living and active God. Pursuing justice as a family is a significant way to help our children discover God’s heart.
*For these ideas and more, check out Kara E. Powell and Chap Clark’s Sticky Faith (Zondervan, 2014) and Ann Dunagan’s The Mission-Minded Child (IVP, 2007).