6 With what should I approach the Lord
and bow down before God on high?
Should I come before him with entirely burned offerings,
with year-old calves?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with many torrents of oil?
Should I give my oldest child for my crime;
the fruit of my body for the sin of my spirit?
8 He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.
1 So what are we going to say? Should we continue sinning so grace will multiply? 2 Absolutely not! All of us died to sin. How can we still live in it? 3 Or don’t you know that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore, we were buried together with him through baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life
The prophet Micah lived at a time when Israel was practicing ceremonial religion and “conspicuous consumption” side-by-side. On God’s behalf, he urged a change of course. Pious rituals, he said, are no substitute for simply treating people justly. The apostle Paul said baptism identifies us, includes us in Jesus’ death. He carried on the metaphor—as Jesus was raised from the dead, so our baptism means that now we can “walk in newness of life.”
Lord Jesus, my goal is to walk humbly with you. Lead and guide me into the newness of life that you died and rose again to offer me. Amen.
* Gary V. Smith, The NIV Application Commentary: Hosea, Amos, Micah. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001, p. 555.
So often I catch myself thinking a certain way about how I need to approach God. Like, when I pray, I should do it in the holiest of mindsets or settings. In my head, an ideal prayer life has always looked like praying multiple times a day in a quiet, intentional, hands clasped posture. Or, even better, praying often in a cute little chapel I casually drop by before or after work. Or, when I think about serving, I paint this picture in my head of big actions, like traveling across the nation or even the world to really make a difference. Turns out, thinking this way is way more ideal than it is real. I have a feeling I’m not alone in my ideal versions of what it looks like to follow God. There’s an every-dayness, ordinary realness that gets lost in this kind of faith.
A year or so ago, a little book took the world by storm called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” “Aspirational items” are some of the things it describes to get rid of while tidying up--things we don’t use but still keep. We all have them, and we all hold onto them because they fit an ideal (but often unrealistic) version of our lives. I think the concept translates well to faith.
My “aspirational” mindset about faith practices is something I like to hold onto, but really need to get rid of. The Micah passage today reminds me that immaculate (or ideal) measures to worship God aren’t required. What is required is “humbly walking” to do justice and embrace faithful love. When I get stuck thinking my practices need to be elevated in order for true worship, God says in Micah “humbly walking” is what’s most important. Praying as I get ready in the morning or while I walk between place to place is much more ordinary and realistic, and it doesn’t make it less holy. I’m thankful for the reminder today that God doesn’t require immaculate acts of worship, or my “aspirational” or “ideal” version of faith, but the real and ordinary walk of everyday.
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