“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
This was part of the reading at church this morning, and the basis of the sermon. I’m a Christian, which is not necessarily a popular thing to be these days, particularly if you have an online presence. This is an understandable thing, as the things most people see in the media are the failings of the wider Christian community – and these failings have often been dreadful.
It seems that every time I look at the news, or check out some of my favourite online forums, I see the awful things done by those claiming to represent the God of the Bible. In many cases, those awful things have been covered up and denied, leaving countless other human beings hurting, depressed, and damaged.
I was particularly struck by this morning’s reading, because it reminded me of all of the things that so often human beings, not only Christians, get wrong. To act Justly. To love Mercy. To walk Humbly with our God.
To act justly requires several things. It requires that in our own lives, we admit to wrongdoing, repent, and accept the consequences of our own actions. When we consider others, it often requires self sacrifice, unselfishness, and action on behalf of those who may be less able than ourselves. It also means that where we see injustice, we should oppose it.
To love mercy, again requires self sacrifice and unselfishness, and to view the lives of others through a lens of compassion, not condemnation, and to forgive freely those who have wronged us.
To walk humbly with our God, clearly depends on your view of faith. For Christians it means that self-agrandizment should never be an option – something that seems to have suffered in recent years, and to live the words of Jesus.
Here in Australia, there’s a Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. Sadly, one of the things we see most often as the dreadful stories unfold, is repeated cover ups, repeated lies, and a refusal to accept the consequences of actions. And sadly, the cover ups and lies are often from those who claim that they are men and women of God. It grieves me deeply that those who claim the name ‘Christian’ have done, and continue to do, despicable things.
Add to that a Prime Minister who again claims to be a Christian, yet whose government is responsible for the most dreadful asylum seeker policies. They clearly contravene human rights, and again place children at risk of abuse. And all done in the name of fear, and its power over the electorate.
This morning as I read the words from Micah 6, I was struck by the sheer amount of awfulness done in the name of God. It isn’t done by God – it’s done by selfish, sinful, human, people. For those of you reading this, you’re probably wondering why anyone would want to call themselves a Christian in the light of the evil often done ‘in the name’ of God. I suppose it comes down to this. What Jesus says, what the Bible teaches, and what human beings do, are often different things. The God of the Bible says “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly…” Jesus himself said “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself.”
None of us are perfect, sadly, but those who have done evil need to acknowledge that they did the evil and accept the consequences. The organisations that were complicit, and hid what their wrongdoers did, need to do the same thing. Moving a paedophile around just to avoid admitting someone was one, only allowed the person to continue doing what they’d always done. It didn’t, and doesn’t, stop the damage. To continue to cover up the lies, leads to more damage, and doesn’t help the victims in any way, shape or form.
Today I’m saddened by the actions of some of those who call themselves Christians. I’m saddened that they refuse to take responsibility, apologise, and acknowledge the victims. In fact, as a Christian, myself, I call upon them to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God – and not just say the words, but live them, and live their consequences. To those who look at the media face of some Christians, all I can say is, look beyond the human face, and look at the words of Jesus instead.