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Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 04 July 2013

WHAT GOD REQUIRES

By Jim Jordal

 Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or 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 hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Micah 6:6-8 KJV

In this passage the prophet Micah wonders aloud what pleasing things he should bring before God in prayerful worship. His offerings range from the rather common burnt offering of young calves and fragrant oil to the virtually unheard of sacrifice of his firstborn child (probably a reference to Abraham and Isaac). But these do not suffice because what God seeks is not sacrifice---no matter how valuable or pleasing it might be---but three simple yet profound acts of obedience: doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God.

It’s good to return sometimes to the simple truth of Scripture now that people have so many complex answers to all issues or problems. We complicate the mater of simple obedience when we substitute the commands of men for the words of God.

So how does a Christian today "do justice"? You can’t do justice by thinking about it. Nor can you do it by reading what God says about it. We do justice by taking action to oppose injustice and to stand firm against attitudes that condone injustice and excuse perpetrators of suffering and oppression. Standing firm does not mean becoming angry and contentious; it means modeling your behavior after that of Jesus when he stood firm against the excesses of the Pharisees and other ruling groups. He didn’t fight them; he merely cast doubt upon their practices by quoting from the prophets or telling a homespun story illustrating his point.

And charity, good as it is, constitutes only part of doing justice. The other part is advocacy, or taking a public stand in favor of justice and righteousness, whether it’s in business, politics, social affairs, religion, or military action.

And what does God mean when he tells us to "love mercy"? Practicing mercy means to look beneath the obvious to find out what is really happening. It means to do as Jesus did when he shamed the self-righteous accusers of the woman taken in adultery, forgave her for behavior that normally demanded death, and bade her "go and sin no more." It means to peer into the hearts of others before we cast the first stone. And it means to continually keep in mind that "there but for the grace of God go I."

And finally, how does one "walk humbly with the Lord"? In this time of strident evangelism and almost total emphasis on personal salvation as the only possible "saving" relationship with God, how can one walk with God without accepting the hype, judging, self-righteousness, and emotionalism now characterizing so much of Christianity? Again, a quote from Mary’s refrigerator: "Choose to be kind rather than right and you will be right every time." Try being kind when you disagree with someone’s views; after all; it’s not as if you have never been wrong. We don’t need to defend God: He can take care of himself. Defending God is what Jihadists (and early Crusaders) often do when they feel that their God has been defamed in some manner, thus justifying even mass murder in his defense.

What I’ve said above is not salvation by works: It is salvation through obedience. Some Christians will reply to my views with the comment, "No matter what good people may do, they will still go to hell if they are not born again." I think there are many Scriptures indicating the eventual reconciliation of all things back to God through Christ. I’ll write more on this later.