Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The 68Mission - Part 3: Micah 6:8 In Our Lives


This is the 2nd article in a series called "The 68Mission." The series examines the potential impact of Micah 6:8 on churches today. In "Part 1: God's Case Against His People," I described how Micah 6 is presented as a covenant lawsuit that God is bringing against Israel in Micah's day. In "Part 2: The Nature of God's Requirements," I examined the three timeless commands God gives to all people: do justice, love steadfastly, and walk humbly with God.


How does Micah 6:8 relate to churches today?


A fulfillment of Micah 6:8 in our lives would have us living our lives in three directions at once: toward God (though humility), toward one another (with steadfast love), and toward the world (with justice). We must always be mindful that God created us for relationships. In Genesis 1:26-27, we relate to God as our Creator, to each other as male and female, and to the world by dominion/management of it.


Micah 6:8 is fundamental to being spiritual. A parallel New Testament verse that describes our spiritual obligation is James 1:27: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." Echoing Micah, James compels believers to let their faith in God permeate their lives, and by extension, the church.


Much has been written about the role of doing social good in the name of Christ without the gospel. And much has been written about sharing the gospel without showing Christ's love through our deeds. We must do both! Peter described Jesus as going about "doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him" (Acts 10:38). And Jesus did not just become a human to be an example of someone who did good deeds; he died and rose from the grave to make us right with God (cf. 1 Pet. 3:18).


Could a life--or a church for that matter--be centered on the three principles of Micah 6:8? Could our very reason for existing to be on mission with God to do justice, love steadfastly, and walk humbly? This is The 68Mission.


The 68Mission practices justice by caring for orphans and widows, standing up for those who cannot defend themselves, and rescuing those who are trapped in destructive lifestyles (such as those captured in the sex-slave "industry"). The message of the gospel must be intrinsically tied to these kinds of actions.


The 68Mission loves steadfastly by becoming a part of a holistic, missional Christian community. A 68Mission church would not be a church with small groups, but a church of small groups. The groups would not focus simply on Bible content, but on the transforming power of God's Word on our relationships with God, one another, and the world.


The 68Mission walks humbly with God by truly submitting to his Word and his Spirit. Like the Jews in Berea, it receives "the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so" (Acts 17:11).


A 68Mission church does not have a number of disparate tasks, programs, or functions, but the mission of God is its function. At its heart, it doesn't exist for the sake of programs, nor does it use programs to try to make disciples of the nations. Instead, it creates disciple-makers through relationships--disciple-makers who come to understand that every day they live is another day to do justice, love steadfastly, and walk humbly.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The 68Mission - Part 2: The Nature of God's Requirements

This is the 2nd article in a series called "The 68Mission." The series examines the potential impact of Micah 6:8 on churches today. In "Part 1: God's Case Against His People," I described how Micah 6 is presented as a covenant lawsuit that God is bringing against Israel in Micah's day.

Micah 6:8 establishes God's most fundamental and universal demands on humans. The requirements placed upon ancient Israel here are essentially the same requirements placed on us. These are not requests, and God has not changed his standards.

In an exposition of this verse, Elmo Scoggin writes, "Three very clear, simple, straight-forward principles are delineated.... Each of the principles is to be incorporated into the routine of daily living. They are not to be 'tacked on' to conduct. They are to be as characteristic of the godly person's conduct as they are of God's own conduct."

Principle #1: Do justice. To do justice means to right wrongs. It is looking out for the welfare of our neighbors. In short, it is to treat people like God treats people.

One of the best examples from Christian history of someone doing justice was William Carey. He is most widely known as the father of the modern missions movement, but in India he is famous for helping to end the practice of Sati, in which a recently widowed Hindu woman was burned alive on her husband's funeral pyre.

Principle #2: Love steadfastly. English translations use different phrases to capture this idea: "to love kindness" (ESV), "to love faithfulness" (HCSB), and "to love mercy" (KJV). The Hebrew word used here is the word hesed (pronounced ke-sed), which includes the idea of faithful love in action. It is an incredibly rich word that usually refers to God's lovingkindness expressed to Israel: covenantal, unending, and unconditional. This kind of relationship begins as God seeks after humanity with love and mercy.

When we practice hesed love, we reach out with God's love to everyone: even the most unlovable and most difficult people.

Principle #3: Walk humbly. This command is directed toward our relationship with God. We walk humbly as we recognize God as the Lord of all things. Just as we would be humbled to enter into the palace of a great king, God is the King of all kings. Not only does he allow us to be his humble slaves, but he has even adopted us into his family (Rom. 8:15; John 1:12).

Scoggin understands our humility before God to be the bond that ties the first two principles together. He summarizes Micah 6:8 this way: "Walking with God, by his rules, in his paths, after his manner, in proper modesty and humility, with all hindrances removed, so that one is prepared or well-pleasing to God, is possible only when and if one is right with his fellow human beings and with God."

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quote on Real Love

"Real love is caring about the happiness of another person without wanting anything in return. It's not real love when I do what you want and you like me. That's worthless. It's real love when I'm stupid and inconvenient and don't do what you want, and you don't feel disappointed or irritated at me. That's real love. And when we have enough of that, the world literally becomes a different place." - Greg Baer

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The 68Mission - Part 1: God's Case Against His People

This is the 1st article in a series called "The 68Mission." The series examines the potential impact of Micah 6:8 on churches today.

In my study of Micah 6:8 today, I came across a 27-year-old journal article written by Elmo Scoggin on the passage ("An Expository Exegesis: Micah 6:6-8," Faith and Mission Vol. 2, No. 2). Micah 6:8 is part of a larger context--a "covenant lawsuit." In this chapter, God has brought a lawsuit against his people, and he plays four different roles as the case progresses: prosecuting attorney, bailiff, judge, and plaintiff. The following is a very brief summary of the verses leading up to Micah 6:8.

  • Micah 6:1 - The defendant, Israel, is called to the stand and challenged to speak up in self-defense.
  • Micah 6:2 - The court issues various witnesses--the mountains and the foundations of the earth--to hear the Lord's complaint.
  • Micah 6:3 - With Israel on the stand, the Lord asks, "How have I made you too weary to serve me?"
  • Micah 6:4-5 - Each year, Israel recited God's deliverance of their lives at Passover. Now, the Lord uses the very same tactic and turns the tables on Israel. He recites their history himself. Scoggin writes, "Why, then, not return, repent, and serve God with joy? Surprise! Israel has become so insensitive to the deeper spiritual values that she now misses the point entirely... The glamor of formal, ritualistic religion has acted as a narcotic that has desensitized God's people to the essence of true religion."

Then we get to the heart of the matter. In Micah 6:6-7, Israel offers a flimsy defense. "With what shall I come before the Lord?" is more literally "With what shall I confront the Lord?" Israel was basically complaining, "How much will you demand of me, God? Do you want me to be crushed by religious burdens so that I bow down before you, God? Shall I sacrifice thousands of year-old calves? Would he be satisfied with ten thousand rivers of oil? Maybe I should offer child sacrifices! How demanding can God be?"

Scoggin continues, "What had actually happened was that the Israelites had become very religious in a formal, institutionalized way. They had impressed themselves at least with their religiosity.... Israel knew beyond any doubt that offerings that have no basis in ethics and morality, that have no deep roots in character are themselves an insult, an abomination to God. Israel knew that true religion...must issue from a character base built upon and confirmed by ethical behavior."

Then, in Micah 6:8, the prophet answers Israel: "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

God cannot be pleased through the sacrifice of thousands of rams, tens of thousands of rivers of oil, or child sacrifices. And every human heart already knows this instinctively. Moreover, God has made it clear in his Word.

Next in The 68Mission - Part 2: The Nature of God's Requirements

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Quote on Following Your Own Path

"If you listen to somebody else, they could talk you out of anything. I've had people try to talk me out of The Man with No Name right up through Gran Torino." - Clint Eastwood

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Defining Missional

Here's a great, quick article in Leadership Journal by Alan Hirsch on what being missional is all about.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2008/fall/17.20.html?paging=off

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