What God Wants
The prophet Micah is critical of the rich and powerful in Judah. He is particularly judgemental of the way business, government, and religious leaders use their power to oppress and cheat those who are already at their mercy. It is in this context that we clearly hear what God wants from us.
Scripture: Micah 6:1-8
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him 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 for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?Read More
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What God Wants
Micah 6:8 is one of those texts that we love to quote and put on t-shirts. We often reduce it to something simple like “Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk with God.” I say that because I’ve put it on a youth t-shirt before.
However, loving the quote and embodying the quote in our actual lives is a much more difficult thing to do. If I were leading this session, I would encourage my group to talk about practical ways this can be embodied in our lives and in our community. I would ask my group to identify ways they can actively be kind in the next week. I would encourage them to name specific ways they can walk with God in their personal lives. Then I would ask them how they can walk with God in their more public and known lives in the context of the social justice themes in this passage. Finally, I would challenge my group to identify specific ways that our shared community participates in systems of injustice and then identify ways that we can help reverse those systems.
May we do more than give lip service to God’s command to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.
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Nikki’s Video Script
What God Wants
We are continuing our look at the prophets, this week in Micah 6:1-8. Micah was a prophet in the 8th century BCE and he focused his work in the southern kingdom of Judah. Micah was a small town guy and as he takes on the mantel of prophet, he is critical of the rich and powerful in Judah. He is particularly judgemental of the way business, government, and religious leaders use their power to oppress and cheat those who are already at their mercy.
Our text today, begins with contention between God and Judah. God declares he has a contention with Judah and continues on by summoning all of nature to act as witness to what God will say.
Next, in verses 3-5, God goes on to describe all of the wonderful things God has done for the people of Judah. What has God done except save them over and over and over again. It seems as though God is frustrated because every act has been for the sake of Judah and Israel; and yet they continue to worship false gods and treat people poorly.
The people respond with those famous verses of scripture, “With what shall I come before the Lord… Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old… thousands of rams… ten thousands of rivers of oil… my firstborn?”
The people seem frustrated as well. They are confused about what God wants from them. They bring God their gifts and burnt offerings and still God contends with them. They just don’t seem to understand that God is not in it for their gifts, their offerings, their blood sacrifice. God is not looking for a certain kind of thing. God is looking for a kind of person. A person who does justice, loves kindness, and walks with God.
This is what God requires: justice, kindness, and connection with God.
Now, we no longer bring God burnt offerings to place on the alter — however, we certainly have our things that we bring before God. We try to appease God with what good people we are and all the things we do right. We try to appease God by showing up at church, checking off our service quota for the month, and giving to worthy causes. None of these things are bad, but when they are more about getting it right than they are about how our lives are transformed we are missing the point. God wants us live just and kind lives. And when we understand the context of Micah, God wants our leaders — business leader, government leaders, and religious leaders to also live just and kind lives. This is what God requires.