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A Relatively Simple Formula for Morality

This morning as I read North Carolina’s court action regarding abortions and their rejection of enforcement of a policy which was deemed ideological in intent, I had to agree. Though grieved by the fact that young women may abort children without thought of what that child’s future contribution to humanity might otherwise hold, or even be fully aware of the duress that often comes afterwards, another’s standard of morality cannot be imposed.

Galatians trumpets that reality, as Paul speaks to the fact that the Law was only offered as a schoolmaster until we could come to the realization of our need for grace. Somehow we believers have failed in living out that reality before our children and our community. Often times, even failing to offer our own grace to those caught in circumstances none would otherwise choose to be in.

It seems so easy to mandate to government, judicial and political leaders the responsibility that really is our own personal calling. I must believe that much of what is crippling our economy and diminishing community life could be eliminated by the simple formula of Micah 6:8: “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly.”

Micah was the Prophet I sat with this morning.

I was thrilled in the midst of my reading, to receive a call from a young mentee now working in another country. I listened from half way across the globe, as He expressed a new found happiness, describing the excitement of finding purpose and new identity; quite different from his days gone by when as one of those less than “successful” at the American Dream, he found himself labeled, medicated and almost lost! I listened with some pain as he quite candidly spoke about his materialistic American experience growing up. Our country, its family system and its churches seem to have lost a lot of credibility of late. With all due respect, please no “love it or leave it” comments; I only shared this for the sake of reflection before we move on.

Micah is perhaps my favorite prophet outside of Daniel, as he much better than I can cut to the chase. A contemporary of Isaiah, writing in 800 B.C. he was speaking of the Assyrian invasion decades before it occurred. It appears that Israel and her leaders had ventured well outside the bounds of Godliness, with Micah, like Jerimiah describing the impact on his own spirit:

“Because of this I will weep and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl.

For Samaria’s plague is incurable; it has spread to Judah. It has reached the very gate of my people, even to Jerusalem itself.” Micah 1:8-9 NIV

I wonder what our cities would be like if spiritual leaders kept their hearts attuned more to their cities than their individual houses of worship, crying out for God’s intervention and speaking out when injustice occurs.

Perhaps this would reduce the need for laws such as those mentioned above and even episodes of near loss among the next generation; especially among those not as fortunate financially as my young friend.

Micah goes on to describe the moral blight of Israel’s’ leaders, as hating good and loving evil, her prophets easily bought:

“As for the prophets who lead my people astray, they proclaim ‘peace’ if they have something to eat, but prepare to wage war against anyone who refuses to feed them.

Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination. The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them.

The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God.” Micah 3:5-7 NIV

The beauty of Micah is the fact that in all of this turmoil he keeps himself “filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might.” (vs. 8).

From this position of strength, he articulates well not only the challenges on his country’s horizon, but also the hope of a faithful God, who for the sake of preserving a nation may bring woe, though all is not lost:

“the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.” Micah 4:1

God will “not stay angry forever but delight(s) to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.” Micah 718b-20 NIV.

There is hope for America and for the Church but it is not a hope, nor an ideology, that can be legislated.

Perhaps a closing comment from Paul is in order for those moralists still angry over the courts decision: “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:4-6 NIV.

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