Growing up I never remember having to memorize Bible verses although I’m sure we did plenty of activities that would have leaned that way in Sunday School when I was little and then Youth Group and Confirmation classes in Jr. and Sr. High. And while I’m sure I had some favorites along the way, it wasn’t until my mid-thirties when I landed on my Top’o’the’List verse, Micah 6:8:
“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.”
Each time I hear it, I remember how impactful it was when I first really remember it landing for me (shortly before I got pregnant with Wilson) and how it has stuck with me ever since, so much so that I got a piece of art for our walls with the gist of the verse on it. Not only did I want to see it on the daily, I wanted my kids to read it over and over until it became engrained in them, too, so they would carry these charges forward with them in the world.
Recently, though, I heard one of our pastors say, when preaching on Micah 6:8, that sometimes people hear it as a nagging list of To Dos. That struck me as so wild because I have never heard it as such. To my ears, it has always represented a list of charges or challenges that we must do in order to bring about the good in the world that we know is possible and available to us via God’s love. I also believe you don’t have to believe in the same god as me to understand or follow these three simple steps*. I honestly think they can be for anyone and work really well as extensions of The Golden Rule about doing unto others as you’d have done unto you.
Granted, there’s nothing really simple about any of the commands in Micah 6:8. This is probably why it appealed to me so much after I’d lived a bit more life and learned about how much injustice, cruelty, and harmful pride exists in our world, not when I was younger and more naïve. But it never occurred to me that this might be God nagging us. I know the list isn’t easy, but if humans could apply these three guiding principles on a more regular basis, I think we’d find a lot more peace and understanding in our societies and nations. And, for the record, what I was able to hear that Sunday in church (we weren’t even in our safety zone of the Balcony this time and I still managed to be distracted multiple times by kids, thereby missing out on key points and words) tells me our pastor doesn’t see this as a nagging list either. Just because something sounds hard (and is hard) doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to ask it of people, because we very much are capable of acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly (with our God).
*there was an animated show the kids watched back in the day called OSO that had a jingle with the lyrics: “three special steps!” that I couldn’t stop singing while writing this.