|What does the LORD require?*
The Lord requires an authentic relationship that is founded on covenant agreement. He requires that we return to Him and that we worship Him. He made a way back through covenant agreement where His people must have no other Gods other than Him, and they keep His commands and laws, recognizing that they are the way provided back into holy relationship with God. He desires a heart that loves Him, yields to Him, and is filled with life that is authentic and contagious.
Any routine keeping of ritual or rules apart from the heartfelt desire is empty and meaningless. It does not generate from a point of thanksgiving of God's generous gift to provide a way for our broken and dead creation to be restored. A nation or people that is unthankful can not recognize the generosity of God and becomes self-centered and bitter. Eating and yet not satisfied, putting away but never saving, reaping but never sowing... just toiling away at a meaningless life, taking from others and not living as covenant people.
To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God in more than word and even in more than deed. It is simply who we are to become.
I would categorize our experiences with context, while God is more interested in our content. Sometimes I believe we become too concerned with the actions of others in the faith, or in society at large and become disillusioned, seeing what is rather than what should be. I whole-heartedly agree that often we are guilty of stopping the good work when things get uncomfortable. In fact, we even have our own cliche about it. We talk about God closing doors.
I'm always skeptical when I hear that language. We risk seeing a trial as a closed door, and we walk away or abandon the call. It could be that we forfeit at that moment the experience that could test our mettle and bring glory to God. It baffles me when I see a follower sure of his path until trial hits. It seems to me that we are called to be light in dark places, and when the darkness falls we drop our torches and run.
My hope is that I can be the type of follower who sees the fallen torch, runs to my brother who is captured by doubt, and stand beside him as he again raises the torch. I believe we are only in true danger when we're standing safely in the light. We are built to bring light into the dark. This means we must face the darkness.
How do we become more real? We fulfill the commission of Jesus right where we are. We daily realign our perspective and seek the face of God. The way of thinking in the U.S. must yield daily to Kingdom thinking in the mind of a Christ follower. I'm not sure we always need to conceptualize it. We must simply recognize it and react.
When someone slanders us, rather than be consumed with hurt and go into defensive mode, or perhaps even launch a clever counter-attack... we can recognize the moment, seek the face of God for our reaction, and then go and love that person who slandered you. To apologize to them that we didn't do a better job walking hand in hand. Offering help and lifting them up.
When we understand that we're not at war with each other, but we are brothers and sisters in need of reconciliation with God, then our knowledge of God becomes greater than our love of self. This then, is how we become genuine... we take on the nature of Christ. And when we fail (because I do often), then we must go back in humility and ask forgiveness ourselves.
*Picture taken late 2012 shortly after we arrived in Guatemala. My mission founder, Fontaine is in the blue t-shirt on the right. Edgar is wearing white, near the center of the picture with his hand extended. He is our operations manager and our link to the people.
The man he is reaching towards is sitting on his own bed for the first time in his life. With his days spanning 8 decades, his nights have been spent with rough blankets or canvas in a cut out in the dirt underneath his corn-stalk and scrap metal house.
The level of love and thankfulness shown by this little man, was among the most moving, significant, and powerful moments of my life. This day... for at least a few moments, I felt what it meant "to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with my God."
The prophet Micah in his book, chapter 6, verse 8.