Recently, I was talking to my parents about being their child. Now raising my own kids, we were making special note of how much the world has changed in terms of how we parent, and what parameters we operate with as parents. Even during the parenting of our own children (especially if our children span many years), our tactics will change, our bottom lines shift, our iron-clad “no way, Jose” rules breakdown, and our strategies differ from kid to kid.
Being one of the older siblings growing up, often the conversation would end up moving towards how easy it was for the younger siblings in our family. It’s true that I wasn’t allowed to play sports on Sunday—because this was a hallowed day that should be observed as the Sabbath—and on it shall be no leisure of any kind (this parent decision cost me a professional career in athletics I might add). My youngest brother on the other hand got to play in hockey and volleyball tournaments every weekend! I remember having to attend the evening church services with my mom (my dad somehow managed to get out of that one)…but my younger brothers don’t.
Not Seen or Heard of…
This parenting shift is also true for us as a community of believers. Our views on many societal issues have shifted over time as we “grow up” or as we learn to discern the times we live in.
I remember growing up in a time where women in leadership, in and outside of the church, was not accepted. Nowadays, I can’t imagine being a part of an organization that isn’t intentional about men and women working alongside each other in leadership. I remember a time when divorce was so taboo, some churches would actually ex-communicate people who divorced their spouses. Nowadays, we have realized the importance of pastoral care as the primary way to deal with some of the brokenness of our lives—not judgement.
When I was a kid, I don’t remember hearing about or talking about the concept of justice. The only thing that I remember specific to justice when I was a kid, was when my dad would read Nicholas Wolterstorff to me (I had no idea what any of the big words I was hearing meant—but I loved that my dad wanted to read to me these big ideas) and I would try to make sense of words like justice, shalom, and flourishing. Nowadays, we put justice on the forefront of our mission statements: “we are justice people” or “working for a more just society” or “we are agents of renewing God’s world for justice.”
Justice is now a part of our Christian DNA.
ACS is not immune to these subtle shifts.
In many ways, we have adopted these shifts towards justice and embraced them as a vital part of our existence. And rightfully so! Digging into Scripture, it’s clear where God’s heart is—with those on the outskirts, the foreigners within our gates, the marginalized. I love reading the Bible and finding yet another marginalized person in ancient society that God used for His redemptive work.
I’ve had the privilege to be part of two fairly foundational conferences in the past month that have helped shape my thinking on the topic of justice. Both of these conferences dealt with the topic of how we care for those on the margins. And then not only how we care for them, but in some cases, how we reconcile with them. Consider the following list:
- First Peoples
- LGBTQ2+ community
- God’s Creation
- Neurologically atypical people
- Those living in extreme poverty
- Racial and ethnic minorities
- The homeless
I was also privileged to attend a seminar at The King’s University in Edmonton, Alberta, last week to hear from Dr. Melanie Humphries, the president of King’s. Melanie shared with us the journey that King’s has been on for the past 25 plus years. Recently, this journey reached a new heightened reality. King’s is in the middle of crafting an Inclusion Statement for all people who work at and attend the University. This Inclusion Statement is clarifying where King’s stands on issues such as how they care for students who are LGBTQ2+. Their board and staff have been busy working to clarify its message and answer many recent questions within this document.
Although I was deeply appreciative of the discussion and the work that is being done at King’s, the largest take away for me was how Melanie’s leadership and her courage under intense scrutiny inspired me. This topic (which we label as SOGI in BC) has become the latest linchpin for polarity and dissension in the Christian community. That all people are made in the image of God is something that we Christians do agree on—and we know that we are all deeply loved and valued by our Creator. This discussion is one that we at ACS are definitely not immune to. Our board is committed to leading our community through this.
Yes, things change.
And yes, sometimes, it’s for the better.
Change is hard and change is good—especially when it improves the lives of those who are experiencing significant injustice. However, change is not good for the sake of change. Change is ultimately good when we realize that it is a part of God’s design and intent.
May we always continue to be agents of justice for God’s grand story.