Micah’s Path

 

What God requires of us is really so very simple: “act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. “[Micah 6:8 NIV] And yet nothing in our lives is more challenging of the culture in which we live and our attachment to it. It is the most challenging task we face and the lesson we’re here to learn. We have to separate ourselves from the human culture and attach ourselves to God’s ways. What a job!

To act justly.

To be just is to see that all men and women and children are treated the same—with dignity, with love, with compassion regardless of race, education, assets, status, behavior. It would be the same to say that we’re all in this life together, on the one ship, Earth, and that our fate is intertwined with each other’s. If we win, we all win and if we lose, we all lose.  That it doesn’t matter how far apart we live or what language we speak, what earthly goods we have, how rich we are: we are all created by the same God and worthy of respect. Parenthetically, geneticists report that the genetic differences among all humans is less than .01%. That certainly says that we are all the same, even though we see so many differences with our eyes and our minds!

When we act justly, there is no reason to defend or project enemies or wall ourselves off from others. We are just who we are and so is every other person, too. No one’s better than another, no one’s entitled to more.

To love mercy.

To love mercy is to act with compassion and clemency and grace and forgiveness to everyone. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e!! Not a single person in this world is out of the loop of our own kindness, just like no one is out of the loop of God’s mercy. Mercy + justice = love.  And love just pours indiscriminately out of the One who Loves and so is it to pour out of us.

To love mercy is to get over ourselves. I/We are not the center of life, not in this universe at any rate. I/We are not the end all and be-all of life. And I/we cannot get away with the facades I/we are used to presenting to the world. Our outer states are always a reflection of the inner state. If I think I am offering love or compassion and it comes tainted with anger or superiority, what the other receivess is not love or compassion but ambivalence or even prejudice. If I advocate justice for the poor, say, and I think that I am better than they, I am tainting my “good works” with judgment and pride.

What Micah is saying seems easy, but it requires a totality of ourselves, not our normal split consciousness. If we want to do “good” for another person or group of people, we need to be of one mind and one heart about it. Otherwise what we’re trying to hide from others–our own anger, fear, anxiety, pressure, etc.–taints everything we do. What good is “love” if it’s delivered with anger or hate? We think if we hide our own inner states they can’t be seen, but there’s always the glint of anger in our eyes, the curl of the lip, the felt sense of tension or hiddenness of the real person behind the façade.

If we’re not transparent, we are not fully trusted. If we’re not expressing our inner state on the outside, people are getting mixed messages from us. Others may not know it consciously, but they probably do not trust the messenger who delivers two conflicting messages.

Act justly, love mercy. If those two concepts were our guiding lights, then there would be few conflicts, fewer wars, more loving embrace of the one who is different from me and yet so much more like me. These are the tasks for us humans and the reason we’re given free will—to learn these lessons: that I and my kind of people are not the center of the universe. That we are to be inclusive, forbidding no one entry. That we are to treat every one equally. Because we have free will and any number of stumbling blocks within us to acting justly and with mercy, this is the major learning task of our lifetime here.

If God had not given us free will, we would never have strayed from his ways. What a risk he took in giving us free will!! I wonder if he has regretted it since. But here we are with centuries of human inheritance in how not to live. So now we have to learn how everyone else’s fate is so tied to our own. We can’t escape any more the consequences of our actions and attitudes. This time is when the s___ hits the fan. With global warming fast approaching and seven billion residents on planet earth, and still growing, we have little time to waste. By 2040 there will be some nine billion people!

We’ve had great models just recently for how change that includes everyone can be accomplished: Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu. Non-violent, embracing, just change. Their legacies need to be more than just applauded; they need to be continued to include more and more of our earth-home’s peoples, to include women and children, all races, the able-bodied and the handicapped, the rich and the poor, and especially the poor.

Where do you stand on the justice/mercy continuum? How do you treat others? Would you like to be so treated yourself?

What the prophet Micah wrote around 700 B.C. almost 30 centuries ago is still a challenge to us today. As smart as God made us humans, we are so capable of turning our backs on our intelligence and our own souls. Think of how much more peace there would be if others were treated as we treat ourselves. We wouldn’t have to watch our backs, defend our properties, fight wars to protect our interests. We wouldn’t have to live in fear, to look for an enemy everywhere. We could deeply relax our vigilance. We could live in harmony and peace. Such a sea change for our world!

To walk humbly with our God.

And why would we do this? The only reason is for the love of God, so that we could fulfill the last part of Micah’s saying: to walk humbly with our God. To acknowledge that God knows a lot better than mankind how to treat people. To bow before the creator of the universe and her wisdom.  To sit at his feet to learn the ways of love. To seek the best for ourselves and others as taught us by God.

The love of something beyond our own little existence is the only reason we would seek to act justly and to love mercy, something that takes us beyond our egos and the false self into true service to the One that loved all this into existence. For it’s only when we are aligned with God that we act in our own best interest as well. For we are not served by the false self’s goals, only by the laws of love that God has handed down to us. Only by a deep relationship with the One who created us. Then and only then would we be willing to give up our own ways in favor of the ways of God.

 

Questions to ponder this week: Where do I fit on a justice, mercy and humility scale? If the highest score were 10 and the lowest 1, what would my score for each be? What do I need to do to start remedying these scores? What’s the first step and the second?

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