Goodness: It’s Not Just to March
-Rev Jamie Brame-
He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 CEB
When I was a young ministerial student, this was one of my favorite texts for preaching. At first glance, it’s about behavior, and we Christians love to talk about behavior!
One of the things I like about being older is that I get to mentor young pastors. Young pastors often ask me how to get people to do certain things or be certain ways.
How about you? Is Christianity about how you act?
Doing justice is an action. Embracing faithful love and walking humbly with God are states of being, though. We go beyond behavior to actual living out of our faith with an attitude: loving God and others, and learning to be with God.
We cannot do justice properly without a close relationship with God! Having a mindset to be a just, good, loving person takes more than a decision. All of us deal with others every day: no matter how much we plan to be fair and kind and honest and loving, there’s always those people who can stop us just by their being alive.
Think about it: just drive to a grocery store parking lot and see how long it takes you to get angry at someone’s selfishness! Drive down the road and count the times you get frustrated with other drivers; and these examples don’t even require you to be face-to-face with people! What about where you work: are you fortunate enough to work with saints?
In college, I met an old man who had marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in all the big civil rights marches. I asked him, “How did you stand being non-violent? How were you able to take being spit on, beaten, cursed, and treated worse than a dog?” “Young man, we didn’t just go and march: everyone was supposed to come and be part of worship, prayer, and Bible study. We didn’t march unless we had spent time with God!”
We want to be good. We want to be just. To do these things takes embracing a daily walk with God, spending actual time with just God and you, often listening instead of talking. Over time, goodness, justice, and love can become who you are. Maybe Micah should have said “walk humbly with your God” first? No: we learn best what we need to do by failing at the good things and turning to God for help. Besides: sometimes, our doing justice actually succeeds!
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Good and loving God, help us to walk with you each day, learning to love, and learning to be your hands and feet and voices to the world around us, in Jesus name, amen
Rev Jamie Brame is the Program Director at Christmount Conference and Retreat Center, located in Black Mountain, NC. He has served there for over 27 years, working with both youth and adults. His interests include the study of spirituality and prayer, with an emphasis on eastern spirituality and its application in a Christian context. In addition to his ministerial vocation, he is also a musician who performs with his wife, Renae. He holds an M. Div. from Duke Divinity School and B.A. from Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College.)