Thought for the Week (January 30)
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
Does the Lord really expect us to do justice and to love mercy and to walk with Him? Doesn't God care what we believe?
What if, in the Bible, "belief" equals behavior?
"My people, what have I done to you?...I brought you up out of Egypt, and redeemed you from the land of slavery." (Micah 6:3)
God's astonishing treatment of a bunch of rag-tag slaves, poor nobodies without any power, land, wealth or even piety to attract God's eye, was supposed to teach the Lord's people to do what God did, to love as he loved, to free others as they had been set free. Their leaders were supposed to remind them to care for the poor and the weak, the helpless and the foreigner. But instead, Israel came to see the Exodus as a guarantee of God's special favor to Israel alone. The very act that was supposed to make them more like their God, had become a stumbling block. And Israelites began to treat each other as the Egyptians had treated them, where the powerful, the rich and the aggressive crushed the weak, the poor, the helpless, and the foreigner.
God doesn't accuse Israel of failing to believe, or to keep the Law, of refusing faithful worship, tithing, studying the scriptures, or offering the appointed sacrifices. Nevertheless, Micah says that God has "a case against his people." (Micah 6:2) He means, of course, the leaders of the people. "Both hands are skilled in doing evil. The ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire - they all conspire together." (Micah 7:3) .
Could God make the same case against us? Have we made the Cross our own guarantee of God's favoritism? Do we think our baptism, and our worship and our faith in the truths of the Creed are what God wants from us?
Can we really afford to ignore the Bible's overwhelming interest in social justice as evidence of our allegiance to God, and not as political posturing? What if faith IS what we do, what we love?
We live in a country where, paradoxically, even Christians are sometimes at the forefront of movements to deny or reduce disability benefits, food stamps, health care, just wages, fair business practices, assistance for higher education, prison reform, immigration reform, even services to our own returning veterans. We can have different opinions about how to resolve these concerns. What we cannot do, biblically, is to do nothing.
Can we who know Him get our hearts around God's heart and hear the prophetic words? "He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"