Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Loving Ourselves Into God's Presence

God has told you, O human, what is good, and what the Lord really wants from you: God wants you to promote justice, to be faithful, and to live obediently before your God.  --Micah 6:8 (NET)

This is probably one of the best known verses in the Bible, aside from the Charlie Brown gang's Christmas pageant quotes.  This verse is an answer to a question asked in verse 6 -- "With what should we enter God's presence?  With what should I bow before the sovereign God?"  The question is on the minds of the people because they're in the religious context and habit of needing purification with sacrificial offerings prior to God entertaining their prayers.  Micah, being the prophet he is, totally reframes the requirement.  In essence, it goes from offering things to offering oneself.  Three ways of offering ourselves to God are lifted up.

Promote Justice:  How do we promote justice?  First off, we have to know right from wrong and be able to recognize when justice isn't happening.  There are many benefits and positive attributes about American culture.  Unfortunately, many times all the benefits cloud our ability to see all the injustice going on around us.  The justice we seek is not limited to the very thin slice of the pie dealing with crime.  It extends much more widely to embrace how fairly the various systems and institutions in society treat people.  Is the economic system, the educational system, the medical system, the religious system, the environmental system, the agricultural system, the court system.... treating people equally, fairly, and justly?  Nobody can kid themselves!  None of these human institutions are.  What we bring before God is our labors to promote change that balances the playing fields in all of life's arenas.  And, even if you are one of the least in society and enduring injustice yourself, there is an offering to God you can be making.

Be Faithful:  In 1352 Julian of Norwich said this: "It really honors God more, and gives more joy, if we ask God to answer our prayers through God's goodness and cling to that by grace, true understanding, and loving steadfastness than if we approach God through multiple intermediaries and our own need."  Being faithful to God means fully embracing and completely assuming God's goodness is present in total abundance -- even when we can't see it or feel it!  To approach God and to be in God's presence we must come before God with the radical all-encompassing belief that God's goodness precedes us.  It must be the absolute most basic tenet we carry.

Live Obediently: Obedience is not subscribing to or keeping a laundry list of "thou shalts" or "thou shalt nots."  Obedience is not following a moral code of some humanly prescribed form.  The ultimate form of living obediently is how consistently and intensely you can love.  Jesus spoke of the greatest commandments.  "Love the Lord your God...and your neighbor as yourself."  If you are loving God and all people, regardless of your problem(s) with them, all the laws and morals in creation are covered.  The issue of obedience creeps into life because we don't want to love obediently.  We want exceptions and excuses to hate, those who do us wrong.  We want a list of all the ways people should treat us.  That's legalism, and it is a far cry from obedience to love.    

To summarize it all, what God wants from us is to be loved back, wholly and completely, to love everything God loves, and to work for love's sake in everything we do.  

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