February 25, 2016 at 7:33 am #353
We have all seen those displays of power or shows of appeasement which seek to control. The prophet Micah in reminding Israel that God’s requirements for right and holy living have nothing to do with sacrifices which look like bribes or acts of humility which look like sulking. He reminds us too that what pleases God is “to do justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with your God” (6.8). This is often described as the classical definition of true religion. The little rejoinder at the end of this Micah passage, “walk humbly with your God” reminds us that our lives are lived with our God in a relationship of covenantal love. That is why those types of sacrifices of blood and money are not the good that God has shown us. In fact, Micah tells us that God has already shown us what is good, but we are often mistaken what the expectations of our relationship with God involves.
Or, to put it crassly: “what do I, a sinner, have to do before God will be pleased”? There are expectations, but they are linked to our relationship with our neighbour and our world, not to these crude acts of payment.
This is what happens when we impose our idea of what God requires and, as with Micah, Paul in his absurd message of the Cross, is a continuation of this same theme, that appealing to conventional wisdom limited their understanding of the ways and the presence of God. Here is your God, says Paul, on the Cross, was to set up a dilemma. When Paul then speaks of foolishness he is not referring to idiots but to making the wrong choice, or more seriously, getting it wrong about God and refusing to see Wisdom, like knowledge, easily becomes a commodity for which people then compete because it is a way of attaining power and influence. In this way, knowledge perverts power and the Cross of Jesus subverts this kind of power by naming it as the love of God which is prepared to face the worst. This love-wisdom overturns the ambitious success-driven models which strive for power. Indeed true power lies in truly profound love.
Grace and peace, James.
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