(Image courtesy of bible-history.com)
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NRS).
Often “kindness” is translated as “mercy.” We must “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” There’s always something else, always something we are supposed to do, always something that will require effort on my part. It usually will come with some personal cost, some willingness to make myself vulnerable, requiring me to put forth extra effort. Because God is gracious and merciful, I must be too? Yes! Genesis tells us that human beings were created in God’s image (1:26-27). If our God is gracious and merciful, then we should reflect that in ourselves. We too must be gracious and merciful.
Now we exist in a world where there is no Tabernacle. The Temple has been destroyed with no way to rebuild right now. The ark of the covenant has been lost to us. So how does God continue to occupy the mercy seat and reveal to the world that God is gracious and merciful? In us. God continues to be revealed, be present, be active in this world in us. Why do you think the Holy Spirit chooses to reside in us? Each and every one of us is the new mercy seat. Don’t you remember the words of Jesus Christ? He boldly, prophetically proclaimed: “See, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5 NRS). That’s you! You are the place where God will meet others (Exodus 25:22)! You are the conduit through which God is continuing to speak to this world, giving commandments (Exodus 25:22)! You are the means by which the world discovers that God is gracious and merciful because you must be gracious and merciful!
The next time we want to lose our temper, deny someone enough grace to get by. The next time we want to punitively hurt someone. Let us consider this call to be gracious and merciful. It’s not just our individual reputations at stake, it’s God’s. It will not be easy. We will mess up, forget, be overrun by our impatience, our anger, our emotional response, but we must try. Perhaps that is all part of Micah’s command that we “walk humbly.”
Gracious and Merciful God,
You placed yourself in our midst that we might be ever reminded,
Of your presence,
And your mercy.
But you remain with us still;
In the presence of the Holy Spirit we remember.
You call us to be your hands, your feet, your voice, even your presence,
In this hurt, broken, and needy world.
Help us to live up to our original image from creation.
Let us be a tangible reminder to all the world,
That you remain a gracious and merciful God.
Now and forever.