Written by Jarrett Meek, Executive Director
Recently, a passage from the Old Testament prophet Micah has been on my mind. "With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the God on high?", asks the prophet. "Shall I come with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn...?" What does the Lord require of us? As Micah ponders this questions out loud, his mind goes first to external religious practices. He mentions sacrifices and wonders if the Lord will be pleased with his burnt offerings. It seems clear he's setting this idea up to be torn down. Then he goes a bit further, multiplying the sacrifices by really big numbers; "what if my sacrifices numbered in the thousands and tens of thousands? Then would the Lord be pleased?" And then he proposes the ultimate act of religious devotion; "What if my religious zeal was so great that I were to give my FIRSTBORN!" The way he asks the questions communicate the answer: zeal for religious practice does NOT please the Lord.
Today we might say something like, "What if I pray each morning? What if I get up at 4:30 a.m. to pray each morning? Then would the Lord be pleased?" Or, what if I read the Bible in a year? What if I memorize a whole chapter from the Bible? Then would the Lord be pleased?" I believe the answer to these questions is like the answer Micah was implying; the Lord is not impressed by our religious activity.
Micah is not meaning to toss out spiritual disciplines or practices all together. He just wants to put them in their place. When he finally gets around to answering the question, he says, "He has shown you, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you." He reveals his answer in 3 parts:
- To do justly
- To love mercy
- To walk humbly with your God.
Doing justly means, in part, seeking the good of our neighbor, especially our neighbor who is vulnerable to suffering injustice. If we want to please God, Micah reminds us, we must care deeply about injustice and do something about it.
When I think about loving mercy, the first thing that comes to my mind is the famous book/musical/movie, Les Miserables. For those who have seen it, the image of a man, Javert, who loves judgement and the law contrasts in the most powerful way with a man who has received mercy and loves to give it, Jean Valjean. The Lord is pleased with a person who loves mercy.
Walking humbly with our God has many expressions. Humility should characterize our relationship with God and should permeate our relationship with our neighbor. The apostle Paul said it well when he wrote, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourselves." (Philippians 2:3)
As Mission Adelante lives out it's mission, our heart's desire is to please the Lord. We love to talk about the greatest commandments: to love God and to love our neighbor. The passage in Micah 6 gives us another way to remember and apply what Jesus said was most important.
- Our Leaders in Training (LIT) students are hungry when they arrive at Mission Adelante after school. We go through about 80 individually wrapped snacks a week! Next time you are at Costco or Sams, think of us! You can drop them off at Mission Adelante during regular business hours, Monday - Thursday 9:00 - 5:00.