What I’m Thinking: Raised Standards

Micah 6:8 is difficult enough: to do justice, to love faithfully, and to walk humbly with God. In the Beatitudes, Jesus raised the bar. Poverty of spirit, meekness, pureness of heart, and more become the challenge of a faith life.

Here’s a transcript:

The Revised Common Lectionary has brought two of my favorite Scriptures to us this coming Sunday, and I’m thinking about both of them.

The earlier of the two is found in the sixth chapter of the prophet Micah (Micah 6:1-8). You may recognize the eighth verse with which it closes: “What does the LORD require of you but to do justice and steadfast love and to walk humbly with our God?”

Centuries later Jesus would go out on his teaching ministry. Matthew describes (Matthew 5:1-12) how he went to the summit of a hill or a small mountain, gathered his followers and a crowd around him, and began to teach. And he begins with what we call “The Beatitudes,” from the Latin word for blessing.

Why blessing? Well, because this is what Jesus said: “Bless are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth…” and so forth.

I usually think about Jesus as someone who takes the bar, the standards, and continually raises them, and indeed I think that if you compare Micah 6:8 with the first verses in Matthew 5 you will find Jesus raising the bar. It’s not enough just to do justice. It’s not enough to love with a steadfastness and commitment. It’s not even enough to walk humbly with our God. But now Jesus invites us to consider even the worst parts of our lives as times in which God’s blessing is active.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” – but how much did that mercy cost us when we extended it?

So yes, these are two of my favorite passages in Scripture. It does not make either one of them easy. It does not make either one of them something that one can just decide one morning to get up and do.

Part of the promise of Jesus’ words as recorded in Matthew 5 is that the struggle itself is part of the journey, and that God is with us in all the stresses and all the troubles to bring us to a better us and a better world.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: | Posted on January 26, 2020

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