"He has told you, O mortal, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?" - Micah 6:8
I'm a little worried that this wonderful verse is becoming a progressive prooftext.
I've not as yet seen anyone in the end zone with a poster reading "6:8," but I'm certainly seeing a lot of posters in churches with Micah's words.
Is that a problem?
In plucking this single verse out, we miss the drama of the passage in which it nests. We risk reducing it to something formulaic. A slogan.
In context, God says to God's people, "We gotta talk."
"Our relationship. It's broken."
"Broken? What do you mean?"
"Listen to yourself: ‘With what shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings? Will God 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?' (Micah 6:6-7)"
Do you hear it — the anger, the resentment?
"What do you want from me, God?" "How much do I have to give?" "What do I have to do to make you love me — or at least get you off my back?"
"Salvation is all about grace," goes the old saying, "ethics is all about gratitude."
So when we get to 6:8, there are tears in God's voice. "You don't have to do anything to make me love you. I already do. Held in my grace, do justice, love kindness, walk humbly."
Save us, O God, from turning faith into slogans. Make it, make us, a love story. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.