This morning’s first reading from the prophet Micah is one of the more familiar texts from the Hebrew Scriptures used in prayer services at events, especially if the audience is considering a social justice agenda. Chapter 6, verse 8 even appears on posters and is a great summary in answer to the question: “What does God ask of us?” It’s succinct, broad-based and even lyrical in its construction in most translations.
This is what the Lord asks of you, only this: to act rightly, to love justice and to walk humbly with your God.
If you’re looking for a “nutshell” answer to how to live life on earth, it’s probably one of the best. This morning, however, I started paying attention to all of Micah’s message which included verses 1-4 and 6-8. Micah is representing God, “entering into trial with Israel” to question the nation’s disregard of all the things God has done on their behalf. “I brought you up from the land of Egypt…released you from slavery…” God sounds really disappointed. (“What have I done to you? How have I wearied you? Answer me!”)
But then the tone shifts and it’s Micah asking the questions about what offering would be enough to satisfy God; burnt offerings? a first-born child?…What is enough to make recompense? Surprisingly maybe, it’s nothing like that. We need offer nothing but our best selves: persons of integrity, humility and justice, to the God who has loved us into life. Does that God not deserve the best effort of our hearts?