What Would It Look Like?

Posted by on Feb 10, 2014 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
February 2, 2014
“What Would It Look Like?”
Micah 6:1-8, Matthew 5:1-12

The gospel reading may be familiar to many of you; you know it as the Beatitudes.  These words begin the teaching known as the Sermon on the Mount. Many biblical scholars believe there was really no such thing as a ‘sermon’ on the mount. In reality, they say, it was the work of the author of Matthew’s gospel, to place Jesus within the Jewish tradition in general and as another Moses, in particular.  Jesus, like Moses, goes up to the mountain and sits as he speaks, demonstrating his authority, like that of Moses, as a teacher.
The question often asked about the Beatitudes and other teachings on the mount is, what did they mean for Jesus’ followers in the age after his death?  And what do they mean for us in the present age?
If the Beatitudes are seen as new laws given by Jesus, then the result is a list of do’s and don’ts we need to follow.  However, if the Beatitudes are the gospel, the good news, then they can give us an opportunity to imagine … “What does a world look like if we were to see our life as Jesus does in this sermon?”
That’s where Micah comes in. What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God?
What God requires of us is good. “The Lord has told you, humans, what is good.”
In Genesis when God created, it was good; but when God created humans it was very good because humans were created in God’s image.
What God requires is for us to live our life in that relationship.  Doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with God …are how we do it.
What did “justice” mean in that context? The word “justice” means fairness, fair play and equity within the human family. In the thought of the Old Testament, to do justice involved the basic needs, requirements, or even rights of people living together in community. Justice, then, is decidedly social in nature.
There are nine words that are most often associated with the word, “justice,” in the Bible. “Widow,” “fatherless,” “orphans,” “poor,” “hungry,” “stranger,” “needy,” “weak” and “oppressed .” God requires that we work for fairness for the little people of our world.  And, as is so often evident in Scripture as well as human experience, such a practice of justice most often brings one into conflict with oppressors who are perpetrating the injustice, and that makes doing justice an act of courage as well as an act of devotion to God.
“What does the Lord require of you?” “To do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
What does “love mercy” mean in the context of Micah’s message? This is the Hebrew term “hesed” which has a depth of meaning hard to capture in a single English word. It has been translated “kindness” and “mercy,” but no one English word can express its meaning. “Covenant faithfulness,” “compassion,” “loyal love,” “loving devotion,” and “steadfast love” are all attempts to translate this term. It is often used to describe God’s faithful actions throughout history on behalf of God’s people. But the term can also be used of people, often in the same covenantal contexts in which the people were expected to respond to God with a steadfast loyalty and love
that reflected the compassion and grace that God had demonstrated to them.
“Hesed,” then, is a relationship term. It is not a warm-fuzzy-feeling kind of love, but the commitment and steadfast dependability that arises from mutual relationship. To love “hesed” was to be committed not only to God who had demonstrated “hesed” to the people.  To love “hesed” was to be committed to a quality of life that was governed by the principles of mutual respect, helpfulness, and loving concern.
“What does the Lord require of you?” “To do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
What did Micah mean when he said “walk humbly with your God?” “Walking a path” is a common biblical metaphor for living a certain kind of life. “Walking humbly with God” is a call to do more than to come to God with offerings thinking to buy God’s favor. It is a call to live our lives with God in ways that would work out in every aspect of life. It implies sensitivity to the things of God, to allow our hearts to be broken by the things that break the heart of God. It is a deep desire to see the world through the eyes of God, to act in the world as God would act.
“What does the Lord require of you?” “To do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
What would it look like if individually and corporately we did what God requires?  Because the truth is, it is easy to forget.
God says, “When you are free and safe and fat and happy, remember me.” What would it look like if this week we remembered?   If we each set time aside on Monday and just remembered everything God has done for us – wrote them down.
And the rest of the week (Tuesday- Saturday) we took the verse apart and each day asked God to reveal:
How am I doing justice? How am I Not?
How am I loving mercy? When am I not?
How am I walking humbly with God?  When am I not?
When we discover we have fallen short… as most of us will, what would it look like if we didn’t argue and try to defend ourselves to God, If we just admitted that we want to do better, that our desire is not enough, we desperately need God.
God has promised “I will be your God and you will be my people.” Will we be God’s people?  Are we willing to begin that conversation today?