Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Passive support isn’t what Jesus has in mind

Posted on 29 Jul 2013 in Bible, Christianity, Ministry | 1 comment

[pullquote]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[/pullquote]

Micah 6:8.

It’s a popular verse isn’t it? Easy to quote when we sense injustice and want things to look different. We appeal for others to have compassion and for people to be less arrogant. We use Micah 6:8 as foundational for living an authentic Christian life.

But the more I study this passage, the more I think we’ve always missed the point. Look at what the three core components are. I don’t think it’s justice, mercy, or humility.

It’s the verbs. It’s in the action.

Act

Love

Walk

The core thing that God wants from us is, in a word, movement. Movement towards ‘the other’. Movement towards those that are different, excluded, down-and-out, rejected, despised, or unassuming.

Here’s why it’s important.

When we spout a term like ‘justice’ we tend to think that passive support is acceptable. When we hear that people don’t have clean drinking water, we can too easily think that justice is giving money to an organization so we feel better about ourselves. We trick ourselves into thinking, “I’ve acted justly today.” The truth is, when we settle for this mindset, we become passive, not active. We don’t move towards the other, we send money at the problem.

We do this at the local level too. When our churches have a ministry, we take credit for it even if we don’t become involved. Yes, your church may have a ministry to troubled teens, but if you do nothing to help that ministry succeed, it becomes troublesome to say , “We love the youth population of our community.”

It doesn’t work because love is verb. It’s an action. There’s no possible way to love passively. Think of a marriage. If I tell my wife I love her but never help her or show her, it becomes hard to believe. Yet when it comes to “doing the Lord’s work” we often trick ourselves that passive agreement with something (justice, mercy, humility) is the same as actually practicing.

It’s not.

English: Footsteps on a bridleway My footsteps...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What God wants, is not some mental agreement with an abstract concept. What he wants is heart transformation that leads to action.

Enjoying the idea of justice is a lot different than acting justly.

Affirming the concept of mercy looks drastically different loving mercy

Agreeing with the need for humility is one thing, but walking with humility is something different entirely.

Don’t get me wrong: justice, mercy, and humility matter. But not as concepts or things to be affirmed. They aren’t qualities that we can engage in passively. What God requires of us in this passage, is not mental agreement. It’s action. It’s movement. It’s an embodiment of the living Good News to those around us.

 

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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  • Love this post! I was particularly thinking about the “throwing money at an organization so you can feel good” part. Because I would never pray, “Dear Jesus give me more money so that someone else can do the dirty work of loving justice.” Almost makes me laugh! This understanding of the verbs (makes me want to sing some D.C. Talk) makes it a lot more scary because I can not ignore the people who are aching to hear the hope of Jesus. This ain’t no feel good passage! This is meant to slap you (me) in the face and say, “Are you DOING what I asked?”

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