The world has watched in abject horror over the past days as two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, were killed by police. Then, just hours later, the horror increased as a sniper opened fire on police in Dallas, Texas, killing 5 officers and wounding 7 others.
We're left reeling. Unanchored. Furious. And scared. And into this confusion there is a deep and potentially troubling question: what do we tell our kids?
Don't tell. Lead.
Our role and responsibility as parents is not to merely tell our kids - with wisdom and discernment - what's going on in the world - but rather to lead them in interpreting and understanding these heartbreaking issues through a Biblical worldview and understanding. There are few higher parental callings.
You might be asking, "Should I talk to my kids about this?" If your children are 6 or older, I think the simplest answer is 'yes.' Chances are very good that your children are going to be somehow exposed to these realities - or similar ones - through means outside of your control: a news clip playing at a restaurant, a teacher or friend at school, overhearing a side-comment when walking down the street. Your job as a parent is to give them the tools and resources to wisely navigate these troubling times.
Which can be hard, because we hardly know how ourselves.
The bottom line is this: while our children have no need to know what happened, they probably will hear about it. And when they do hear about what happened, they will absolutely need to know how to interpret and process it - age appropriately - through a Christ-centered viewpoint. And you, their parent, must be the one to lead them in that processing.
Condemn all evil. God has.
Start here: Scripture is explicitly clear about evil, God's hatred of evil, and God's eventual destruction of and answer to evil. There is no place for this in our hearts and in our lives, and Christians need to be on the front lines in decrying evil.
We must talk to our children about the systemic evil of racism, and equip them to boldly speak out. This is an issue close to the heart of God, and speaks directly into the dignity of what it means to be made in God's image. And parents - we cannot skimp on this. So many events recently have shown us how prolific racism still is. We must speak boldly against it, for the sake of our children.
We must also teach our children the value of patient responses, and the God-given authority our police and law-servicemen and women have.
It should be clear in our children's mind's that racism is wrong, and that we are called to honor those in authority.
Ultimately, Jesus has called his Church - his people - to be a lamp on a stand - a city on a hill. We are to be a proclamation of the goodness of God from within the darkness of the world. There should be no doubt in our children's minds where we stand - and where they should too.
Proclaim radical hope. Jesus.
But in the same breath of explaining that there is evil, evil is wrong, and evil must be exposed, we need to also be proclaiming that there is hope, the battle is won and the name of victory is Jesus.
We have no other hope. We have no other light. Yes, we can work for legal and societal change - laws which reflect the heart of God will benefit any community. But we cannot look to any other savior than the one who already purchased salvation on the cross.
We need to teach our children to sink their anchors deep to the bedrock of Christ. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as "assurance of things promised; hope of things unseen." This describes attitudes and feelings - but the chapter goes on to describe men and women of deliberate action and conviction. That action was fueled by their attitudes - their faith attitudes. Assurance and hope in Christ need to be seared into the minds of our children through our words, our actions and our model.
The greatest boon we can offer our kids is the example of a life lived embodying these two truths - condemning evil and clinging to Christ. And our kids need to - must - see that in us.
Our kids need to see us broken because of the sin in this world; this is how they will learn to be broken.
Our children need to see us passionately calling out to God to save, restore and return; this is how they will learn to run to God in tragedy.
Our kids need to see us look for real and practical ways to improve situations around us.
Our kids need to see us decry and never model racism or violent reaction.
Our kids need us to lead, because Church - so does the world.
So parents, this is your calling, your conviction and your aim: Your children will not be without guidance in this broken world. Because they have you. And you have Christ.
Let's lead our kids.