What did Christ say to the disciples while walking the Emmaus Road? I wonder if the disciples walking down the path were bemoaning Christ’s absence and failure to fulfill their hoped-for vision of a Messiah, much like many of us as the faithful do today, lamenting that God hasn’t granted us what we expected or wanted in the Messiah. And yet, this is God-in-flesh.
In the parable of the bridesmaids, we always want to identify with the bridesmaids who made it in to the wedding banquet. But is that really the best option? Was that group really the best witness of faithfulness? It’s time we rethink this parable, and admit, that while we may identify with the prudent bridesmaids, having sufficient oil for ourselves, in reality, we’re just as foolish as the morons who forgot their oil.
This All Saints Day, we are reminded of the work God is already doing in the world, and the end to which God is already working. As we remember the saints, we don’t celebrate their selfishness, or their tribalism – we remember their call to see our lives as part of something much greater, as part of God’s created. May we remember the saints, and be reminded of God’s eternal glory, that we may serve as the next generation of saints, sharing in the work of God’s grander vision for all of creation.
The Bible is full of examples of what it means to ‘walk humbly with your God,’ and they help us understand what Micah is instructing to God’s faithful community. But walking humbly isn’t an isolated instruction. Micah’s instructions are offered as one word of guidance, and to be faithful, we must follow all three of them in tandem.
Micah calls the people of Israel to humbly walk with God. But what does a humble walk look like? Why don’t we start with humility … what is humility? Not an easy question to answer, but the Biblical witness gives us some guiding words.
Justice is the desire of God, maintained throughout the Biblical text. Both the Old and New Testament stories proclaim this as the will of God. But the text also makes clear, this is Godly work we are to participate in – as the prophets declare, we are to be ‘doing’ justice.
We hear the word ‘justice’ thrown around a lot these days. “Social justice,” “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” “justice for Breonna Taylor,” and so on. Micah, among other prophets, also used the word as a primary instruction to the people of God, saying, “Do justice.” Before we can understand what it means to ‘do’ this thing called justice, we have to understand what the Bible means by ‘justice’ itself. With over 400 uses in the Biblical text, the Word of God makes clear what is ‘justice.’
In a political season, when words tend to fly freely from our mouths, it’s important to remember the text of James 3. It’s not the tongue that curses and blesses, it’s the words we convey and express with the tongue. How can we use our words to bless, and not to curse?
Christ says, if you want to follow me, deny yourself and take up your cross. This is not a simple invitation. It is, as Peter found, a radical deviation from the powers and desires of empires. It invites a humility and willing vulnerability for the sake of the gospel.
Encouragement, which comes in many forms, is necessary for healthy and faithful relationships. We have the ability to encourage another by offering affirmation. And yet, sometimes we should not be affirmed. At times, our encouragement needs not to show up as affirmation, but to show up in the form of exhortation, where we are encouraging others to live more faithfully.