At a congregation I once served, someone asked me, “Pastor, could you describe what you feel are the essentials of faith?”
It was a good question! And I knew no other better place to answer than to give some wisdom from Micah 6:8. A verse of scripture that says this:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Justice is such a hot button word in faith communities these days, isn’t it?
Religious folks of all kinds call out “justice” as the reason why their faith seems all the more political.
Justice, many say, is the reason why people who’ve never protested before to line up in front of Congress, down Pennsylvania Ave or in city centers all over our country. Justice is why many some folks make the choice not to dine at restaurants or buy specific products or travel to specific cities. Justice is the reason sited why my friend Alyssa was arrested this week in protest of how potential new laws might separate families one from another as immigrants to this country.
I am a fan of justice. God calls us to use our voice, to use our time, to use our funds to stand up for those who are being mistreated or do not have a voice to speak in our cities.
But, next comes kindness. Micah says the Lord asks us to “love kindness.”
Some translations of this text insert the word “mercy” instead of kindness. I like mercy too. For living a life of mercy means in acting in compassion or forgiveness toward others.
And I believe there’s a reason I believe that we’re called to kindness after our call to justice.
For if we want our messages to have any chance of shining through to hearts who need to hear them, we always must remember to be kind. We always need to remember it’s not our job to make any other person less than if they don’t believe or think like we do.
I recently saw a protest sign that simply stated, “Make America Kind again” I think it’s a message we can all agree on.
Kindness can look like stopping to have a conversation with someone who thinks differently than you. It can look like smiling. Opening doors for strangers. Going out of your way to lift someone up who is discouraged. Most of all it can look like listening.
I picture justice and kindness are social activism twins. We can’t have one without the other and be effective.
And lastly, we are asked to “walk humbly with our God.”
In a journey of faith, humility is an essential virtue, we’re reminded.
Because after all, God is God and we are not.
And if this is true, sometimes we’re going to be wrong. Sometimes we’re going to miss the mark. We’re going to speak too soon or not soon enough. We’re going to make a mountain out of a molehill and cause more damage than the goodness we bring.
So, if our justice wrapped in kindness work is truly going to be what God wants from us- we’ve got to walk humbly.
We’ve got to stay connected to our life-source. We’ve got to take times out to pray, to think and to re-focus. We’ve got to move in the spirit of Thomas Merton’s famous prayer: “The fact that I think I am following your will doesn’t mean that I am actually doing so.”
My friends for today: where and how is God calling you to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God?