If you were asked, What does the Lord require of you? How would you answer?

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1 Witness to God s Requirement Micah 6:6-8 What Does the Lord Require? If you were asked, What does the Lord require of you? How would you answer? Maybe you would recite the Great Commandment thinking that it offers what God requires just about as succinctly as anything. Even Jesus saw it as a summation of the law. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. (Luke 10:27) In answering what does the Lord require of you, you very well might recite the Great Commission. We quoted it just last week. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20) What does the Lord require of you? That s the same question asked by the prophet Micah way back in the 8 th century B.C. He sums it up by saying we are to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8) Lives That Are Keenly Different The context for this discussion in the Book of Micah about what the Lord requires came on the heels of a long list of great things the Lord had done for his people. Among them, God had brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt. God had sent Moses to lead them. He was the very one who received the law on behalf of the people and gave it to them. Upon hearing the great things God had done, the people of Micah s day began to ask what they needed to do in return. They were looking for a way to repay the Lord, as if they ever could that. Their focus though was immediately upon things more religious in nature. They began to talk about sacrifices, which in their minds would somehow satisfy the debt they owed the Lord.

2 God was not impressed. What he wanted was a life that was different, hearts that were changed, and lifestyles that were making a difference in the lives of other people. In a word, God s desire for his people was that they lead lives that were keenly different from the norm, lives that made a difference, particularly with the poor and dispossessed. He desires the very same thing of us. Faith without Deeds Is Useless The writer of the book of James all but says the same thing. What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, Go I wish you well; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, you have faith; I have deeds. Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (James 2:14-18) A Call to Action Micah s call is a call to action. Hear the action that permeates this wonderful passage: ACT justly, LOVE mercy, and WALK humbly with your God. Micah s call is to live life in a different way. John Wesley, the forerunner of our church, encouraged the early Methodists to do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. That pretty well challenges us to live a life that is making a difference. Wesley also coined the phrase, There is no holiness apart from social holiness. Methodists keep the warmed heart and a social presence in tension better just about anybody else.

3 Our faith is to be lived out in community and, in particular in support of those who are the least and last among us, all because our hearts have been touched so powerfully by the love of God. What It Means to Act Justly and to Love Kindness These days it is clear that so many are terribly short-sheeted when it comes to the bare necessities of life. We lose sight of that in the mix of our own abundance that so often blinds us. There are people all around us who need help. They could certainly use a fair shake. They need someone to do right by them. That s what it means to do justice. To care for another, to look out for the interests of others, to be kind and compassionate, to be faithful and loyal to another, to love as Christ loves are the beginnings of loving kindness. Such things strike to the very heart of authentic relationship and that sort of thing crosses cultural, racial, and economic boundaries it becomes almost God-like. That s where a lifestyle of walking humbly with God puts us with the right disposition of heart that keeps us not only strong in him, but keeps us strong in our support of others. Doing What Is Required Worldwide This morning as we celebrate World Communion Sunday, we realize there is a much broader world out there than our own little corner of it. We realize that God s got the whole world in his hands. We also realize that he needs our hands as well hands that are willing to get dirty, hands that are willing to express love, hands that are ready to serve. Today as we celebrate World Communion Sunday we pause to consider God s good work across the globe. Already we have heard from Jolita and Andrew Erbele. Theirs is a witness of faithfulness that has inspired me from the first day I met them. When they left here a couple of years ago, it was hard for me to comprehend the sort of sacrifices they were about to make.

4 They are not alone. There are persons all over the world, some of whom we support directly, whose way it is to do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with their God. We pause to pray for those persons today. A lot of our work worldwide is with orphans. Whether in Uganda through Childero, in Kenya through the Good Samaritan Home or Worldwide Hands and Hearts, or, for that matter, in Lithuania where parents leave children all the time for work far away from home, we are in ministry to bring a more just life to the lives of young people. I look forward to joining Doug and Brenda Dean and others from Centenary this January as we travel to Kenya to stand in support of young people. I would love for you to join us. There s nothing like a short term mission experience to broaden your view of the world and to offer the opportunity to do what the Lord requires. A Prophecy for All People What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? This is a prophecy for all people. It calls us to a deeply spiritual response. It s what God expects from a people who are in covenant with him. This is not a passage just for those more progressive minded. It is a passage for all people. This is not a passage to otherwise politicize. That sort of thing is always a travesty. This is a passage that leads us to live life the way God wants it to be lived. So Let s Get to It So let s get to it. All religious trappings aside, let s be about the sort of work God requires of those who profess faith in him. I like the story told of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, who approached his son one day saying, Did you know that men sleep out all night under the bridges? Well, yes, his son replied, I suppose a lot of men do that.

5 Then you ought to be ashamed of yourself to have known it and not done anything for them. Go and do something. Get them a shelter. But that will cost money, his son said. Well, that s your affair. Something must be done. Get hold of a warehouse and warm it, and find something to cover them. That, my friends was the beginning of the Salvation Army shelters. Let s get to it. A Sheer Delight to Serve We talked a bit earlier about sacrifices as a response of those who were looking to repay their Lord. For those of us who profess faith in Christ, we know that that sacrifice has already been made. His body was broken and his blood spilt on our behalf, so that we might be right with God justified, if you will. The sacrifice for our waywardness and inattention to the ills of this world has long since been made. We celebrate that today as we partake of this holy meal. Our lives are changed on account of what Christ has done. We are then freed to go and serve him by serving others. There is no way we can ever repay Christ. It is though a sheer delight to serve him. And if that means acting justly, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God, then so be it. It has been my honor to witness to God s requirement.

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