My wife and I have been commiserating with others perplexed by the emerging adults we are parenting.
Some of our kids have friends identifying all over the sexuality-spectrum. They are social-media-ed out the wazoo. They are cultured by education and entertainment to see the seemingly hopeless plight of polar bears and tree frogs, refugees and indigenousness peoples, among other global maladies. All this angst is no aid to mental health. I also observe that the sympathy for all past and present injustices doesn’t always take seriously the shattered spiritual condition of the planet to the same degree.
This is no cantankerous rant about the next gen. Their vision of this beautiful world and all that ails must be heard by their elders. I am deeply challenged by my younger friends and their experience of the world they are inheriting.
In fact, some of what we hear echoes the blistering biblical prophets. Isaiah swings a proverbial 2×4 at the Israelites who are living fatly deceived. “Behold,” screams the prophet, “in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers…you fast only to quarrel and to fight…” (Isaiah 58:3-4). Israel’s evil is evidenced in pleasure-seeking and prosperity at the expense of others; in broken relationships and selfish tug-of-wars. This is precisely what many — both Christian and not-Christian — are pointing out. The Church — and we men of Christ — must hear what the Spirit is saying. Good News must be actualized, not just verbalized.
This is precisely where the zeal can bog down. The proliferation of media means the world’s problems get pushed to us with dings and vibrations. This can overwhelm, leading to paralysis of action. Liking a post does not equal transformation. Re-tweeting does not mean you are usurping the establishment — you may only be establishing your own rigidness. Screaming about injustice is not the same as doing justly. Living offended does not heal offense. Opinion and emotion come easy, but the staggering injustices of the world require action.
This is where life lived with a faithful and covenant-keeping God is radically simple.
God loves this world so much that he not only spoke but acted to save. In Christ, God does justly and justifies the broken and rebellious by enduring the greatest injustice — Jesus Christ, God with us, suffers by our hand for our freedom. In Christ, God reveals a Kingdom in contrast to the world’s political and corporate empires. His Kingdom will never end. His way turns swords into plowshares (Micah 4:3-5). His Spirit produces a new community (Acts 2:42-47). His action results in every tribe and gender on level ground before the throne of the Lamb who was slain for all (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:14-21; Revelation 7:9-10). God is the radical! He is leading a rebellion against injustice and only as we walk His way will we purposefully respond to today’s injustices.
Which leads to the simple: Jesus’ way reduces the overwhelming to the smallest common denominator. Love your wives (Ephesians 5:25). Open your life to the widow and orphan and show no partiality between rich and poor in your community (James 1:27; 2:1-7). Honour others above yourself, bless those who persecute you, and serve your enemy (Romans 12:9-21). Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner as though you were serving Jesus himself (Matthew 25:31-46). This is so simple, everyone and any community can do it — and that’s what makes it so challenging. After all, this means it’s about my heart and hands. It means it’s about more than re-posting and more about really living the just Kingdom of Jesus in the small but never insignificant geography God has rooted me.