Preparing For Worship: Sacred Road Team Report & Micah 6 & 7

Preparing For Worship: Sacred Road Team Report & Micah 6 & 7

John Haralson   •   August 19, 2016

In every age God wants his people to respond to his love by doing justice, practicing loving-kindness, and walking humbly with God.

 - Brian Aucker & Dennis Magary, in the ESV Study Bible

I get a little squeamish when I read parts of the Bible that talk about God’s desire for his people to care for the vulnerable. And, to be honest, there are many, many places in Scripture where God invites, commands, and encourages his people to care for the poor and weak.

In his book Justice, Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff created a compelling phrase―the “quartet of the vulnerable”―to describe widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor. In the Biblical story, these were the ones that God’s people were to show a special concern for.

In our current world, we might add other people to this quartet―single moms, the unborn, sexual minorities, and people of color. Wolterstorff’s point is that Christians, in every culture, are called to work for justice and mercy for the weak, wounded, and marginalized.

In considering the Biblical demands for us to pursue justice, Tim Keller, a pastor in our own denomination, put it this way:

    All I know is, if I don't care about the poor, if my church doesn't care about the poor, that's evil.

Now, since I agree with Keller and Wolterstorff, where does the squeamishness come in when I read parts of Scripture that call us to care for the poor? My anxiety level goes up when I read these texts and am asking myself the question:
    Am I doing enough to care for the bruised and broken in the world?

Now, on a certain level, this is a good question to ask. Taking stock of my life, especially with regards to God’s desire for justice, can be a helpful thing to do.

But, at times, as one of my friends has said, it can be possible to begin to approach serving the poor like building a resume. If we’re doing a lot to serve the poor, we can feel good about ourselves and present our spiritual resume to the Lord and to others and hold our heads up high. Speaking for myself, I get squeamish when I think about God’s call for justice because I know I’m not doing enough. In other words, I know my resume is pretty weak in this area.

This is a destructive way to think about caring for the poor. It’s destructive to the poor themselves because they become objectified into “projects” and building blocks of my own self-image. It’s also destructive to me because it puts me in the precarious position of being the fountain of mercy and justice. 

Instead, all of the Biblical teaching and commands about “acting justly” and “loving mercy” should first lead me to understand that the poor, bruised, and broken are not some group of people “out there” somewhere. Instead, I need to see myself as flat broke and vulnerable before the Lord. I am a person who desperately needs God to have mercy on me and be gracious to me.

In other words, I need to regularly experience the reality that God, and not me, is the fountain of mercy and justice. Furthermore, I need to constantly live in the awareness that I am in great need of his justice and mercy myself.
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This week: ###a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VN5fInDHlA" target="_blank">Sacred Road Team Report, Micah 6:1-87:18-20

Liturgy is here

I hope to worship with you.

Warmly in Christ,

John
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