“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has told you, O man, 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 6:6-8
In Micah’s day the people were going through the rituals of religion, but their hearts were far from God. In fact, chapter 6 begins an indictment against God’s people.
Worship is important but not to the neglect of justice, kindness and walking humbly. There is much in the world today that should be very, very, upsetting to Christians.
The inordinate numbers of elderly who died from the virus because of bad policies. The inequalities of how individuals and businesses and communities have been treated as a solution to fighting the virus. The racial issues at the forefront of much of the peaceful protests. The attempts to cause more division by violence and making things political. And the list goes on. In some places overnight in the last week the country was literally on fire. Thankfully some of that has slowed.
So, what are Christians to do? How can we promote justice, kindness, and humility? In many ways in the myriad of injustices I don’t feel very humble in my heart. I have to guard against my own pride and my sense of entitlement. “Who are you to tell me who I can worship with? Or meet with? Or where I can go or buy things?” And yet shaking my fists figuratively or literally does not promote better justice, kindness, and humility.
I am commanded to pray, so I continue to do so.
I am commanded to worship, so I continue to do so.
I am commanded to pursue justice, kindness, and humility, and I continue to strive to do so.
The reaction by Christians when the world is on fire is pretty much the same that it should be when the fires are not so out in the open. As I reflect on Ezra and 2 Corinthians that we have been studying.
For Ezra: I still wonder how patient the Israelites were in the midst of their struggles and waiting for change. God can and does work through leaders and we pray but also strive to do what we can to cause change. I can appeal to my leaders. I can seek better legislation. I can make a difference where I am at. I am still blessed by what I can do in this nation versus living anywhere else in the world.
For 2 Corinthians: I am reminded of the power of the Gospel to change lives and the fact that we place too much attention on what we can see versus that which is eternal. The restrictions I sometimes, if I am honest, chafe under will fade away. The protests and even the riots will die down. The virus will run its course. People, all people will live forever. May we treat them as image bearers and desire that more of them will spend eternity in the presence of Christ.
And in the midst of the uncertainty and the chaos and the frustration and even the sickness and devastation, compassion is needed but not fear. Let us be the first to seek and to show justice, kindness, and humility not with fear but with hope and a boldness that comes from knowing Christ.
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:16-21