“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6: 8 (NIV)
I have to admit, Christians sometimes keep closer company with the Pharisees than with Jesus Christ. Like the Pharisees, we can be guilty of non- loving confrontations, judgmental pronouncements, self-absorbed concerns, and self-righteous invitations. We can be proud, rigid, condescending, moralistic, demanding, dogmatic, patronising, lacking in compassion, and hypocritical. As if that weren’t enough, we’re often preoccupied with the pursuit of personal health and happiness at the expense of humble acts of charity and sacrificial works of service.
When our churches direct their efforts to saving souls, serving congregations and standing up for the faith, yet fail to engage their communities at their point of need, they fall far short of the mark. It’s time to make it count: We will only live and thrive in society when we truly embrace the Great Commandment and the Great Commission: Love for our neighbour must go hand in glove with making disciples; good works must accompany the proclamation of God’s Word; and social involvement must be marked by justice.
We can’t press on with a business as usual approach. Vulnerability and humility is needed. We must recognise we’ve been our own worst enemies in advancing the cause of Christ. A line of error and injustice has run through the things we’ve said and done. We must confess that we’ve known the Word but failed to significantly make the Word flesh. We must graciously and non-judgmentally admit that the ‘old’ story, the story that was shared with the world by our forefathers, may not have been the true story in its entirety. While we may not live out our lives in Christ any better than our forefathers did, we must nonetheless continue on. But we can’t continue today with more of what we did in the past. We can’t continue with the ‘old’ story. A new chapter needs to be written. A chapter informed by a re-discovery of the Story and its relevance for our world today.
Change is a painful process, yet change is needed. If we want to be more like Christ we’ll have to take responsibility for who we’ve been and who we want to become. Pharisaism must be rooted out and destroyed. A new dialogue is needed; one that takes place in God’s presence and is informed by His Word. And for that dialogue to happen we must humble ourselves; we must seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways. Let’s not forget that as the church goes – so goes the world. Sound theology and orthodoxy are not enough. It’s time to walk the talk! Time to connect! Time to make it count! What does the Lord require of us? His timeless Word provides a timely word. We must act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (cf. Micah 6:8).