But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously - take God seriously. (Micah 6:8, The Message)
I've been thinking about this verse for some time now. The book we're working through in a class I'm teaching keeps reminding me of it. And then incidents like the one in Charleston happen and it weighs heavy on my heart. The search for answers and reasons, the outcry for justice, the eternal question of "why" seem to scream from every headline. Maybe it's my stage in life, but I increasingly see people try to complicate what God has said is pretty simple. The trouble is, that it's often a hard recipe to follow.
I try to steer clear of quoting individual verses and trying to base something bigger on an excerpt, but I think Micah 6:8 is special in that way. God is telling his people - while they are hurting and mostly disbanded - how to really live. And I think these three principles apply to us today. They cover our own heart, the world around us and our relationship with the Creator.
First, we are to set our hearts to a simple and just way of operating. "If it is to be, it begins with me" or so I've heard it said. So I must take ownership of who I am and how I live in this world. It's a call to justice, but not in some flashy, crusader type of way. It's simply the way we need to be so the world around us can see our Redeemer shining through.
Next, we need to act out of who we are - or rather who we are becoming. As a rescued person, I need to see the intrinsic worth in every other person that God sees. If we could do that, maybe life would be a little more precious and we would take steps to ensure others are safe and cared for. I think it's in the forgetting of this simple, basic tenet that we find the root of crimes like Charleston. Mercy isn't an option, and it has to flow from our compassion for people that reflects God's heart.
Finally, I'm increasingly convinced that we don't need some complex theological system. Oh, the deep treasures and riches of God's Story and his nature are wonderful to explore and embrace, but if listen to God's charge through Micah, it starts with humility. Humility isn't complicated at all - but it is very hard for most of us. I love the way Peterson renders it and charges us not to take ourselves too seriously.
Three simple steps to the recipe for life along the Crooked Path: 1) Live justly as one with a redeemed heart, 2) Love and practice mercy - and do it actively and 3) Be humble and look to God for direction. Answers may not always come, but the peace we get from this simple life is beyond belief.