Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, February 2, 2020, Micah 6:1-8, “How, Then, Shall We Live?”

“He has showed you, O man, 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?”  (Micah 6:8 RSV)

How, then, shall we live?  There are plenty of self-help books you can order online at Amazon or purchase at your local Barnes & Noble book store to give you ideas on how to get the most out of life.

I was channel surfing the other day and came across the Huckabee show.  He usually has interesting guests which he interviews about their experience of the Christian faith and how to live in today’s world. Former Governor Huckabee interviewed a husband and wife who really had to deal with suffering in their lives.  Their story is told in their book “The Seven Longest Yards” written by Chris and Emily Norton.

I won’t give the whole story away, but Chris was a promising collegiate football player who was injured on the gridiron and became a quadriplegic and only had a three percent chance of walking again.  His fiancé at the time, Emily, became depressed from that devastating experience.

This book of hope tells their story of how to live by leaning on each other with love and trusting God.  By living that way some amazing things happened to both of them that transformed their lives.  Chris did walk again and Emily became emotionally whole.  But there is a lot more to their story in this inspirational book of hope.

Micah, the eight century Israelite prophet, wrote at a time when God’s people had broken their covenant with God.  Micah wrote, 

“Alas for those who devise wickedness and evil deeds…they covet fields, and seize them; houses, and take them away; they oppress householder and house, people and their inheritance.”  (Micah 2:1-2 NRSV)

The Israelite broke God’s commandments which we find written in Exodus chapter 20.  Their wickedness led to coveting, stealing, and oppression of their own people.  Sounds like some of the things we have witnessed in our society with Ponzi schemes and discrimination against people from various walks of life.  Israelites brokenness and sinfulness was not the way God wanted them to live.

We have heard this famous verse from Micah chapter 6 about how God wants us to live with justice, kindness, and humility.  But before God challenged them to live with these virtues, He reminded them of the saving grace He gave to them:

“For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” (Micah 6:4 NRSV)

God acted first for His people.  God first saved His people.  He was gracious to them.  Then He reminded them of righteous living.  Then He remind them of what He required of them.  Then God told them how they were to live – with justice, with kindness, and with humility.  No more injustice.  No more plotting evil against their neighbors.  And no more being arrogant and lording it over others.

Let’s reflect for a moment on those three ways the Lord wanted Israel to act and certainly the ways the Lord wants us also to live.

First, justice.  Have you been watching the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on television?  For the Democrat led by Senators Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler, justice is served when President Trump is indeed convicted of abusing his executive power.  In their minds, the President withheld money (foreign aid) from the Ukraine for his own political gain. If convicted President Trump would no longer hold the office of the presidency.  That for would be justice for the Democrats.

On the other hand, the Republicans argue most notably by retired Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, that the articles of impeachment do not rise to the level of  “bribery, treason, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”  (Professor Dershowitz is a Democrat who was hired by the Republicans to offer legal counsel on the impeachment laws.)  So, for the Republicans, justice is serviced when President Trump is acquitted and the trial comes to an end.

I am sure you have an opinion on what is just in this trial and we pray for justice to be served so that our country can move forward with other issues which we face for the good of all people in our country.  Don’t we want our congress and our lives to work more and more for justice for people of every race, gender, creed, and color?

Isn’t this how God wants us to live?

Second, kindness.  A report in USA Today told the remarkable story of a 25 year old woman, Veronika, who was walking in a cross walk in New York City when she was hit by a black Mercedes Benz SUV.  She was pinned under that SUV.  Suddenly a dozen or more strangers ran to the scene for help.  They lifted up that car and pulled her out so that she did not suffer severe injury or death.  Now that quick-thinking, courageous group of strangers saved Veronika’s life. And besides that, those strangers were kind – really kind, kind enough to act swiftly with love in time of need.

Decades ago  I saw bumper stickers that said something like ” Do Random Acts of Kindness.”  Thinking about that, those random moments occur in our lives every day to do kindness.  Be kind to our neighbors who are elderly and who need help running errands.  Be kind to those struggling with chronic pain and disease.  Be kind to those suffering from depression and anxiety and feel like the world is closing in on them.  Be kind to those struggling to keep their marriages going or whose children are hooked on fentanyl.

Isn’t this how God wants us to live?

Third, walk humbly with God.  The sports world was shocked when retired NBA superstar, Kobe Bryant, and one of his daughters, and seven others died in that helicopter crash in California as the copter sped to Bryant’s daughter’s basketball game.  The news primarily focused on what caused the crash, who was killed with Kobe and his daughter, and what his sports’ friends said about this basketball superstar.

But in the midst of all of that reporting, I heard one report which told me that Kobe Bryant and his daughter walked humbly with God.  Kobe and his daughter, Gianna, woke up early Sunday morning before they had to board that helicopter and went to mass at a Catholic church where they received Holy Communion.  Can you imagine Kobe and Gianna walking forward to receive the Lord’s body and blood for faith, live, forgiveness, and drawing closer to their Lord?  I believe they walked to that altar with faithful hearts in humility to commune with their loving Lord.

As Christians we don’t want the glory or publicity when we work for justice or when we do acts of kindness.  We don’t do justice or love kindness just to show how good we are to our neighbors or to win a hero’s reward.  As Christians we live humble lives, peaceful lives, lives focused with hearts trusting God in all things and above all things.

Isn’t this how God wants us to live?

God tell us what is good and what is required of us as His people.  With the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit dwelling within and among us, we “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.”

Now this is how God wants us to live.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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