“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)
It. Was. Good.
This past week we covered the first part of our Justice Journey for Kids curriculum, which guides kids through a whole-Bible understanding of justice. This week was rooted in a very simple, but very profound concept: in the beginning, it was good. Before the weeds came up, before people killed one another, before the poor were extorted, it was good. And that goodness is crucial in building an understanding of biblical justice.
On one of my favorite podcasts, Vox Podcast (not the news source Vox), the host was interviewing Dr. Timothy Gombis, a professor of New Testament at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. Tim described an interesting exercise he likes to do with his students at the beginning of the semester. He instructs them to write a one-page summary of the biblical narrative before they dive into the course content.
And each time, almost every single student starts their narrative with sin or with hell.
He shared this to make the following point: though sin is part of the gospel narrative, sin was not the beginning. When we make a habit of jumping straight to the Fall in our gospel message, we miss dwelling on God’s original design for the world. And, Tim says, we unintentionally shrink the narrative down to two drama points: sin, salvation.
But the goodness that bookends both sin and salvation, is incredibly important in the pursuit of justice and incredibly important for our kids to understand!
(Tangent: when it comes to describing the gospel visually, I am not a fan of the bridge diagram (two cliffs, cross as the bridge). The visual I do love is James Choung’s “Big Story” diagram, which tells the gospel though four circles moving from creation to full redemption. His videos explaining it are totally worth a watch. If you’d rather read, this pdf is also a good overview.)
Ok, back to the regular program.
Justice and Goodness
The Justice Journey defines justice in this way:
“Making things right, back to the way God created them to be. This includes fixing broken relationships, laws, and systems that sin has damaged. It means repairing things so that all people have an equal opportunity to be everything God created them to be.” (Justice Journey for Kids)
Justice is rooted in God’s design for the world.
Justice is rooted in the hope of the restoration of all.
And if justice is what we’re running towards, we must never forget that God created the world to be good and is coming again to set it right. The part we play in the story points towards his glorious end.
Back to the Beginning
So, with all that in mind this week, the kids and I dwelt on the very beginning. We memorized Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that he had made and it was very good.” We didn’t talk about the snake, we didn’t talk about the cross, we didn’t talk about sin. Though those things are coming, I wanted to create space for us to dwell, day after day, on God’s good design:
That diversity is intentional and good.
That creation reveals the beautiful character of God.
That we are all made in his image.
One day, while I read Genesis 1 and 2 out loud, the kids painted pictures. This was one of their paintings from that time:
And, though I run the risk of reading too much into this, I see so much diversity, creativity and design in the brush strokes. This is the beauty I was hoping they would dwell on.
When God created the world, it was very good. I won’t ever deny the reality of sin, but I do want to make sure that my family never forgets who we were created to be and that we are active participants in bringing about restoration in all areas of our lives.
And you know what? I think this week was very good. We had Bible time each day and it wasn’t wearisome. We memorized Scripture. We declared truth. And we have about 8 more weeks in front of us in the Justice Journey that I feel ready to step into.
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