One of the early questions we had about Missing Peace, before we ever worshipped together, before we all knew each other like we do now, right at the beginning at the launch party was…What do I have to do? What is expected of me?
We all want to know…what do I have to do? What is the catch? After all, nothing is free right? There’s this billboard in Alabama…perhaps you’ve seen the meme floating around Facebook…it says something like, “nothings free. if you’re getting something free, thank a tax payer.” This is the world we live in…nothing is free.
Another quick example. Sweet Marlays coffee shop, as some of you know, is one of my favorite haunts. I’m here multiple days of almost every week meeting people, writing, planning, and most importantly drinking lots of coffee. As a regular, I had a favorite mug here at Sweet Marlays…until one day they told me someone had dropped it. I had no choice, I pledged to find its equal and replace it. Eventually I did, but a funny thing happened. When I came to deliver my new favorite mug, it was afternoon instead of my regular morning, and the guy behind the counter had no idea who I was or what I was doing. Several times he tried to deny the gift I was giving. He asked what I wanted in return. He asked why I was doing it. After a few attempts I was able to explain the story to his satisfaction, he thanked me, and we both kind of laughed about the experience…nothing is free.
We are culturally conditioned to this understanding. There has to be a catch. Nobody gives you anything for free. And if it seems as if someone is trying to, don’t accept it…question it…read the fine print…you’ll see, nothing is free.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that the question came up when we first launched. What’s required of me?
It turns out there is some helpful scripture about this very question…surprise surprise, right? Micah 6:8, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly before your God.”
There was a time in my life when I viewed religion as a list of things I wasn’t allowed to do, in order to obtain some later reward I didn’t understand and wasn’t sure I wanted. Perhaps some of you have felt that way at some point. But I’ve learned a different, no a deeper, way to understand.
What if instead of “require of you” we read or hear “want for you.” What does God want for you? God wants you to do justice. Take care of the least of these. Fight for what’s right. Stand up for truth and goodness and defend it. When you see wrong happening, do something. You can. We can. Do justice. It’s good, its right, and it transforms lives…both of the doer and the recipient…into the kind of people we were created to be…more into the image of God…that light in each of us that is universally recognized as goodness. Do that.
What does God want for you? God wants you to love kindness. God wants you to see the good happening and encourage it, say something, embrace it. And this is not just biblical friends. You know how you feel all warm inside when you see your child being kind to another child? You know how it feels so right when you watch someone help an old woman with her groceries? You know how transformative it is to feel the joy of loving one another.
What does God want for you? To walk humbly with God. To join in the goodness that is happening in the world, but to stay humble as you do it. So do good, be good, but not for the sake of your ego or reputation or so that you can create a list of how good you are and post it on facebook. There’s no keeping score. Not with God. There is only the gratitude that we are able bodied, gifted individuals, and we live out of that, defending the weak and loving all that is good with humility.
It starts to sound less like requirements and more like signs on the path pointing us to a life of love and hope and peace that we all want deeply inside of us. There’s no catch friends. There is only transformation.
So for today…let us all attempt one humble act of justice and kindness. Amen.