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Stirring Using Longings for a Just and Kind World

We want to keep giving you ideas about how to stir in everyday conversations. Recently we've shared about how to stir using longings about the afterlife and how to stir when someone says, "I believe in science."

When our girls were younger my life revolved around our local primary school and that twice-daily ritual of making the school run. Being a part of our local community is a huge part of the life God has called us too. I’ve had quite a few conversations after school in the park with school mums and friends who have decided, “I’m good without God. I can’t believe in God because too many bad things happen in the world.”

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We know you bump up against this too. Sometimes you might be tempted to shut the conversation down and assume this is a closed door. But we think it’s possible to keep the conversation going and stir spiritual curiosity.

First, start with what you agree on. Affirm that you to feel sad about how broken our world is. But then move the conversation to the level of longings and desires and ask a question. So you might say:

‘I can see that you expect the world to be good and for people to be kind. Where do you think this desire comes from?”

The role of experience is huge for this generation, and part of our job as Christians is to find gentle ways to raise the question, “which way of understanding the world makes the most sense out of what you experience and value?”

Remember, if humans are only bodies and brains the driving force is natural selection - that the strong and better adapted survive and the weak and less adapted die. But that’s not how we feel life should go- for anyone! That doesn’t fit our longing for justice for the weakest in our society.

If we take the position that there is no spiritual, if there are only natural forces and physical matter, we should expect the world to be random and chaotic. It shouldn’t surprise us when bad things happen and people do their worst. But yet it always does surprise us.

You can continue the conversation by saying, “I believe your desire for the world to be good and for justice for the weak is spiritual- it’s a longing that cannot be explained by physical explanations alone.”

Justice in everyday conversations

We have a friend who is new to “stirring”. She recently wrote us to share this very practical example of a conversation she had.

“I had another great conversation with a friend this afternoon. We talked about 13 year-old-girls and their friendship troubles. They have such a keen sense of fairness, don’t they? I got to share how this sense of injustice and their longing that the world is good and people are kind to each other is a spiritual response to their situation.”

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After that our friend actually got the opportunity to share how being a Christian helped her navigate some of these tricky parenting situations and lead her kids. Those are conversations we all want to be having!

So how is our friend taking a stirring approach?

First, she is finding common ground- the longing for justice is common to all people whether they are 13 or 31. Secondly, she is interpreting that longing for justice as coming from the soul. She’s making it clear that this is a clue to our true spiritual nature.

In her own words, our friend is sharing with her friends that we are more than just a body and a brain. We are more than DNA seeking survival, we are more than consumers seeking pleasure, we are spiritual beings seeking justice, even 13 year-old girls.

Joy Stevens

Joy has been a youth worker for over 20 years. In addition to training Christian youth workers she regularly leads communication, digital media and fundraising projects for Start To Stir. Joy and Darin have two teenage daughters and a nutty ginger dog.