How can a fallen, flawed, broken, sinful person have a relationship with the exalted God? What does it take to be a believer and follower of Jesus? I want to go back to an ancient prophet writing in 722 BC for the answer.
Micah 6 opens with a court scene and God bringing a charge against unfaithful Israel and warning of upcoming judgment with the mountains and the foundations of the earth called on as witnesses.
Micah then outlines God’s faithful actions and Israel’s unfaithful actions (Mic. 6:3-5) before he asks: “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God?”(v6). How can a sinful man come before a holy God who rules the universe?
Micah then offers an interesting escalation of potential human offerings from simple “burnt offerings, with calves a year old” to “thousands of rams” to “ten thousand rivers of oil” right up to his “firstborn child”. What should I endure to make God accept me? How far do I have to go to atone for my sin?
The correct answer is a surprise. We can’t manage our own atonement! We can’t come before God with what we can do in terms of sacrifice and self-deprivation, but we can if we have a change of heart: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (v8).
This means that we trust in God who alone atones for sin, serve Jesus daily and learn to love our neighbour in new ways, with justice to the most vulnerable, widows, orphans, refugees and the poor, extending mercy and walking humbly with God. This is the path for us to do God’s will on earth: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
Following justice will bring us promised satisfaction and blessing:
“If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Is. 58:10-11).
We are called upon to show mercy, the unconditional extravagant love of God who loved us while we were still sinners. We are asked to show mercy with a softened heart to those who are hard work, the ones who have let us down, betrayed us, irritate us, people who have hurt us deeply in the past, the aged, sick, drunk, unemployed, those who have made poor decisions in life and need government help.
Walking humbly with our God refers to living a full life shared with God: our hopes, dreams and failures. We acknowledge it isn’t an equal relationship, as it is mortal to immortal, broken and faltering to the perfect, pure, consistent and loving God but we appreciate we are deeply loved and privileged to be in this incredible relationship with our God.
All of us are on the path to transformation, growth and blessing. Where can you make changes in these 3 areas today?