Bible Verse of the Day – 5/18

Given how often times people tend to became legalistic in our faith, dwindling it down to only ways to act and look, I often find this quote from Micah to be very liberating, especially given how often people condemn and oppress particular groups without much basis.

I also think it is at the heart of some of what Joe was trying to get across.

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, 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.

Comments (9)

  1. Katie

    one of my favorites too

    Reply
  2. Nate Myers

    I see significant reactionary discussion on this website. Much of what is said has some sort of marker like that above, “Given how often times people tend to became legalistic in our faith, dwindling it down to only ways to act and look…”

    I don’t deny that legalism and sheer actions devoid of inner meaning are twistings of the gospel, but do you think the best way to prophetically critique the mistakes of the past is to occupy the opposite extreme where boundaries become relativized and actions marginalized? I think not.

    I’m speaking less to your words here, folknotions, and more to the sense of the group here. God’s call for his people has always been expectations + empowering grace + forgiveness to pursue the faithful life. The first admonition there, to “act justly,” has clear boundary dimensions; without knowing what true justice is, how can one seek to act truly justly? So the relevant question for today where there are myriad calls for human rights by any definition is; whose justice?

    A foundational belief of Christianity is that we don’t know what true justice is as humanity without God speaking into our existence. May we seek to move beyond the push to slot into pre-ordained extremes to embrace the complexity of bringing the call of God to bear on human relationships so we may truly “act justly.”

    Reply
  3. folknotions (Post author)

    Nate,

    I found this a strange place to air a grievance about reactionary extremism; I found it even more strange considering that you have avoided answering very pointed and clear questions asked of you in the posts under “Is it really a sin?” (http://young.anabaptistradicals.org/2007/05/17/is-it-really-a-sin/#comments).

    Nonetheless, I will engage your comment.

    First of all, if you are not engaging my words written above, but some understanding of “extremism” as you see it in the blog, why even bother responding to something I wrote?

    The only thing you did engage is my first statement on legalism. Perhaps I was not clear in what I meant by that. Within a Mennonite/ American Anabaptist perspective (meaning Anabaptist denominational immigrants), particularly in the Conservative Anabaptist context, there is a lot of emphasis placed on whether or not you should wear, what stuff you can/can’t buy, etc., and these are to be your expressions of faith. I submit that these are Pharisaical expressions of faith. If all of our faith is bound up in these antiquated and ethnocentric traditions, then our calls to walk humbly, seek justice, and be merciful can be obscured by these practices.
    As a caveat to that, I will say that those traditions I think once had a great effect on witness. I think they still can. I don’t think they become the be all and end all of our faith.

    I’m not sure what your criteria is for prophetic critique; particularly given that your answers here and elsewhere root themselves in academic etiquette/abstractions (“don’t step on my toes or anyone else’s toes who agrees with me!”).

    You state:
    “A foundational belief of Christianity is that we don’t know what true justice is as humanity without God speaking into our existence. May we seek to move beyond the push to slot into pre-ordained extremes to embrace the complexity of bringing the call of God to bear on human relationships so we may truly ‘act justly.'”

    I agree with you wholeheartedly here. I’m not sure where you think extremism comes in. Is it extremism simply because I understand witness differently than you? I root my understanding of witness, of “acting justly”, in what I have learned from the Bible. I’m not sure where you root yours. Enlighten me.

    Reply
  4. lukelm

    Justice, Mercy, and Humility… doesn’t that sound more like the true triune of Anabaptist virtues? Move over, faith, hope, & love… I’m not sure we were ever that great at any of you anyway.

    (this would probably be funnier if you could hear my delivery.)

    Reply
  5. Jon

    I’ve been reading for a while, but can’t pass this one up…isn’t the whole line “faith, hope & love, but the greatest of these is love”? So, perhaps the Anabaptist triune should be justice, mercy, humility, but the greatest of these is humility. Now that’s funny.

    Reply
  6. Skylark

    Yup, we’re humble and damn proud of it!

    Kind of like the guy they gave an award to for his humility, but they took it away from him ’cause he wore it.

    Perhaps we just take strong stands and then apologize for them.

    Reminds me of a discussion on a secular board, where a bunch of non-Christians were talking about how they just don’t understand the idea of tithing in secret. If they think a cause is worthy of their money, they happily “inform” other people of it. Oh no, there’s no arrogance in informing, one person said.

    Reply
  7. Nate Myers

    Folknotions,

    You said,”First of all, if you are not engaging my words written above, but some understanding of “extremism” as you see it in the blog, why even bother responding to something I wrote?”

    I responded centrally because it’s an issue of Biblical interpretation, and since this is a verse of the day, I wanted to interact with the Biblical witness, since you had already done so above. My initial gut instinct is that left-leaning folks often quote this Scripture thinking it’s self-explanatory. “Loving mercy” and “walking humbly with God” are fairly simple to understand on the surface, but we won’t know what “act justly” really means until we ask some deeper questions about what justice really is. That’s all I’m saying.

    I hear what you’re saying with outward signs being Pharisaical; I attend Eastern Mennonite Seminary, so I hear both healthy prophetic critiques and what I consider unhealthy reactionary responses to that past all the time.

    You said, “I’m not sure what your criteria is for prophetic critique; particularly given that your answers here and elsewhere root themselves in academic etiquette/abstractions (”don’t step on my toes or anyone else’s toes who agrees with me!”).”

    I’m not sure what your point is here. Prophetic critique is Biblically grounded, not ideologically-driven, committed to listening well, and ultimately finding a place to stand that integrates all three. And I think, in the interest of fairness, that you fall into the same hole of “don’t step on my toes or anyone else’s toes who agrees with me” that you suggest I’m falling into. We can’t help but have people we agree with most. That’s not a bad thing; on your end or mine. We fall into trouble when people challenge “my” group’s approach or position on a certain issue and feel the need to defend the group rather than address the issue. May you and I both seek to avoid this pitfall.

    And you said, “I agree with you wholeheartedly here. I’m not sure where you think extremism comes in. Is it extremism simply because I understand witness differently than you? I root my understanding of witness, of “acting justly”, in what I have learned from the Bible. I’m not sure where you root yours. Enlighten me.”

    Extremism (by my definition) is not rooted in understanding witness differently than you, but rather in understanding foundation and central beliefs differently than you. Witness is the secondary result of primary commitments; you share what you care about. My understanding of witness is also learned from the Bible. And that’s the rub here where I call for fairness again; you consider some of my positions extreme as well, and have already shown so by some of your responses, so there must be some authority above both you and me that can guide our interactions on this site, right? So let’s just agree that at times we’ll both think each other is extreme and let it all shake out in the wash.

    True relationship on this site will not come when we shed the things we deeply care about for the sake of a shallow definition of relationship and interaction. True relationship will come when the things I deeply hold to be true about the Bible and the Christian life both line up with/butt up against yours, and we hash it out in the details.

    So let’s enlighten each other. Whaddaya say?

    Reply
  8. folknotions (Post author)

    Nate,

    You have made a lot of assumptions about who I am, what I think, and what I think about you. I have not made such assumptions about you, show me the same respect.

    You call me left-leaning; I am not in any way. I am a Christian and I don’t get caught up in all of the left/right, liberal/conservative arguments and couldn’t care less about them. I let the Bible be my guide.

    I have never referred to your ideas as extreme nor have thought them extremist. If you choose to consider me in such a way and to place on me judgements about you that I haven’t made, dialogue will most likely be quite difficult.

    I’ll leave my point on etiquette aside, it’s ancillary.

    What is the thing that I deeply care about? Toppling judgment. Judge not, lest ye be judged (said our buddy…).

    And in our world, judgment constantly gets placed on queer folk, poor folk, people of color, the homeless, Muslims, Jews, Christians,Buddhists, Mennonites, Catholics, Baptists, white people, rich people, smart people, stupid people, etc etc. We think we got everyone figured out by the time they walk through the door; it’s a survival and social mechanism of interpretation. If we judged people only based on the fact that they are valuable because they were created by God, we would have a totally different social structure.

    I’m just as guilty of the sin of judgment, attempting to play God. I pray that I can work to liberate myself, and hopefully others, from this sin.

    That is how this verse resonates for me. Walk humbly, Live simply, Act justly. And it is constantly revealed through scripture that the pointing of the finger at others is not what God desires of us. That is acting justly for me.

    Reply
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