Tell us what to do

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?

What is your answer to this question?

What is it you think you should bring before the Lord as an offering?

Micah 5:2-5a; 6:6-8

 

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?

What is your answer to this question?

What is it you think you should bring before the Lord as an offering?

Have you done it? Have you brought your offering before the Lord and do you think it is enough and do you think it is what God really desires from you?

This question is asked by the prophet Micah to a group of people who are soon to be under God’s judgement. They haven’t lived their lives in a manner that reflects God’s purposes or ways. The judgment hasn’t arrived yet and thru the prophet God is trying to tell the people that there is still time to get it right.

In effect God is saying that it is never too late to get it right and that is good news for you and me.

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?

This is reasonable and I think I could do this.

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

This one feels like it is out of my league. How about you? Are you up this kind of an offering? Do you have these kinds of resources?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

Nope. Not going to happen God. It is your job to atone for my sin. I can’t do that myself.

With tongue firmly in cheek the prophet keeps upping the ante in answer to the intimal question. Then Micah says;

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?

In a surprising twist that just drips with the power of the Gospel, the prophet shifts the focus of what is required of us from an offering that is transactional to an offering that is relational.

Because doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with our God is about what it means to be in relationship with my neighbor and my God.

And this is what make it so challenging, right.

It means I have to notice who my neighbor is.

It means I have to actually open my eyes and see what it is around me that requires God’s intervention in and through my life and yours.

It can be as immediate as your own family and it can be as distant as a stranger you meet out in the community.

So in my mind the question changes from with what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high to what does it mean to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.

What does doing justice look like for you?

It requires action, involvement, showing up.

What does loving kindness look like for you?

It requires grace, seeing others thru God’s heart.

What does walking humbly with God look like for you?

It requires intentionality in your relationship with God and it means you are moving with God into the world and through the world. You are walking which means you are not standing in one place all the time and you are not walking alone.

So let me ask you – is the immersion of our children in to many activities that take them away from faith formation, community, and laying a spiritual foundation in their lives doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with our God?

When we blame the poor and those who struggle to provide the basic needs for themselves and their families on being lazy and not working hard enough – is that doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with our God?

If we are unwilling to provide structures and resources that give and preserve life for the unborn, for the newly born and for all the children that surround us in our communities, is that doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with our God?

When we criticize and vilify people we don’t agree with because of their politics on social media or in conversations with people who think the same as we do, is that doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with our God?

Everybody thinks they know what justice should look like but what would happen if you were to sit down and ask a friend who sees the world differently than you and ask them, “what do you know about justice that maybe I could learn from you?”  Maybe your understanding of justice might grow and through the eyes of another Christian your understanding of God’s justice could take on new dimensions.

If you are living in fear and suspicion of people who look different, act different or believe differently from you, is that doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with your God?

Where is the power of God at work in your life if you only see fear and mistrust around you. Where is the power of God at work in your life if you have no expectation of what God can and will do in and through you in your daily life?

How can we possibly own the prophetic promise Micah makes in chapter 5 of today’s text of a shepherd king who will stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord and bring us peace if we are living our lives in fear and suspicion of everything around us?

It is important to remember that the people who first heard that promise didn’t live long enough to see it fulfilled.

But we know don’t we. We have seen it. We have touched it. We have experienced it.

O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray, cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.

We know how God fulfilled that promise of a King who comes out of that small and unexpected little place called Bethlehem.

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.

When we own this promise in the strength of the Lord then and only then can we do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.

When we own this promise in the strength of the Lord we understand that none of these three things are done in isolation. They are always done together because justice comes out of kindness and kindness comes from walking humbly with God.

What does the Lord require of you people of God?

Own this promise in our daily lives.

Live out this promise in our daily lives.

And however it looks like for you in the context of your life to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.

This is what the Lord requires of us. God has told us and it is good.

Amen

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