David Isaacs, long noted as a researcher and author on the subject of Christian parenting that teaches character, suggests that the development of Godly virtues is a journey that begins at a very early age, and that each virtue builds upon the others. Love is an early virtue to embrace. A toddler’s character is typically infused with genuine, unjaded love. They are born with a need to love and be loved.
As they grow, are mentored, mature, they develop other virtues. At eight, Issac indicates they begin to develop patience and justice. 13 brings, among others, a respect for others. Do you see the trend here? We love, we embrace justice, we respect others….. Do we? Do they see that in our community? Do we model that? Or are we in fact broken communities with fractured Kingdom ministries, vision and efforts, separated by labels of church denomination, race, and economic stature, damming up the River of God’s desire for us all?
In recent months we’ve seen a great deal of what comes from such brokenness in cities such as Ferguson, MS and New York City. Oklahoma City is not much unlike those communities. We don’t want to think it could happen here. But where are the signs of justice, respect, even love for one another, created equal, under God? Where in our community does the River of God move, regardless of labels, in one accord, watering the landscape where our children grow?
Think of a world where an entire generation of children was raised in an environment that reaches across labels, across cultures, across denominations and truly embraces love, justice, respect. A world where a person’s strength and value is not measured by how much pain they can conceal or how much dignity they can be denied and still hang onto hope.
God’s river flows deeper than that.
At the age of 17 John Perkins, raised by sharecroppers, experienced the death of his older brother in his arms, murdered at the hands of a town marshal. He fled the state vowing never to return. Yet in 1960 Dr. Perkins and his wife Vera Mae felt called to go back to help the poor in rural Mississippi meet their own needs eventually working side by side with his former oppressors. In the face of dire poverty, racial prejudice, and brutal injustice, Dr. Perkins chose to break the cycle of hate and respond with love.
Love, the first and most basic virtue. He chose not to have it rung from his body by the hands of those who saw life as a series of labels. He has built nationally impacting ministries upon the platform of the simple virtue natural to a two year old.
At 86, Dr. Perkins is still fervently burdened with a message of reconciliation through love. He will be in Oklahoma City and lead a citywide worship experience on April 12, 2015. It’s a place to start, a place to put your canoe in the water, a place to respond to God’s desire to nourish the landscape of our community with the River Glorious of one body of Christ, One Hand of God. Come together. Let’s just start.
Just like in Oklahoma City, the children of your community and generations before you depend upon what comes next.