Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Act Justly

I've been thinking about the "act justly" part of the Micah 6:8 verse - it's the one where the prophet Micah asks, "what does God require of us" and he answers his own question by saying that we should "act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God." So, WHO exactly, acts justly? Is not acting justly effectively to act against one's own self interest? Isn't it putting the needs and rights and dignity of other people ahead of your own? Isn't it surrendering one's opportunity for advancement so that someone else might be lifted up?

There's a quote a heard a while ago - I've thought about it a lot over the last few months and I may even have mentioned it in a previous post. The quote goes something like this, and I'm sorry that I don't even remember who said it or where I first heard it: "We don't always act according to what we profess, but we always act according to what we believe." In other words, profession - saying what we believe - is relatively easy. But the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. It's what we DO that counts and what we do reveals what we REALLY believe.

We can make impressive speeches and pronouncements about the way things are and the way we think they should be, but what do our actions say? Here's something I've wrestled with for a long time - I increasingly SEE the suffering and injustice caused by greed and economic systems built on a mentality that says "to the rich [or winner or victor] go the spoils." By this line of reasoning the West deserves to be rich and the poor of the earth - well, they're the poor. They don't have what it takes. They don't measure up. God must somehow be withholding his blessing. I can protest that I don't believe these things. I can say that I understand that God grieves over the plight of the poor of this world. I can even say that I believe that God calls me to love the poor and to provide for them as best I can. But the thing that haunts me is the fact that I still benefit from the system that makes me "rich" and others "poor". What do my actions say about what I believe?

Sometimes, when I'm especially honest - or perhaps, cynical - I think that I'm actually worse than those who intentionally and blatantly set out to exploit other people in order to secure a better position for themselves. There actions may be despicable but they are at least acting in a manner consistent with their beliefs. Can they actually be more honest than I am? Here's the bottom line: is it safe for me to play around the edges of justice, secure in the knowledge that the really greedy people will ensure that my security and privilege are maintained? And if I don't want that to be my legacy, what ought I to do? Must I sell all that I have, give the money away and literally follow Jesus? Is there any other way? A truly more effective way?

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