Does the Bible say anything about social justice? Invite your youth to explore that question with a photo scavenger hunt.
Political pundits on TV and religious leaders in the U.S. have recently taken to debating the notion of "social justice" and the practices of some churches in our country. Why let the pundits and big-wigs have all the fun? Engage your youth in a conversation about social justice by presenting them with any of the hundreds of passages in scripture that speak to the care of those in need. We recently provided our youth with a sampling of texts (such as the ones you see below), divided them into groups, and challenged them to go out into public and take digital images of signs, symbols, events, people, etc. that helped to illustrate their understanding of the passages. Upon their return, each group shared their photos (uploading them to a laptop) and we talked about how they chose to interpret the various scripture texts.
In most cases, it was necessary to help the groups by putting the passages in context (biblically and historically) or to help them understand basic terms. For example, most of the youth assumed the word "justice" had to do with crime and punishment. We spent a good deal of time considering how Biblical justice particularly as taught by Jesus differs from our cultural understanding of the word.
Approached as an open-ended activity, this scavenger hunt can provide a way for your group to wrestle with what social justice means to your church and how you are called to respond to the challenging ideas in scripture about the poor, about war, about sharing what we have with others. At its best, this activity could create space for those of different political ideologies in your group to listen to one another (e.g. can advocacy relate both to those who favor reproductive choice and those who oppose abortion?) and to at least ponder the complexity of issues facing the Church today when it comes to bringing systemic change.
1) SHARING: He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise. - Luke 3:1
2) JUSTICE: ...but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove." - Ex. 23:11
3) FAIRNESS: ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Matthew 5: 38-41
4) GOOD NEWS: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." - Luke 4:18-19
5) POSSESSIONS: Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me... How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God!" - Luke 18:22-24
6) WELCOME: "Then Jesus said to his host, 'When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'” - Lk. 14:12-14
7) PEACE: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
8) MEEKNESS: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
9) SERVANTHOOD: Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty. Matthew 23: 11-12
10) ADVOCACY: Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9
11) HELP: When you happen on someone who's in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that GOD, your God, is giving you, don't look the other way pretending you don't see him. Don't keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. Don't count the cost. Deut. 15:7-9
12) HOMELESS & HUNGRY: Is not this the fast that I choose . . . Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; Isaiah 58:6-7
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