Categories: Pastor Dave's eNote
“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
I was at Wal-Mart a few weeks ago and noticed they had an air-hockey table. It was in a room just off to the right as you enter the store. I had never noticed it before. On this very late evening, shopping for the Solomon House, the silence of my thoughts were broken by the loud clacking of the paddle hitting the plastic puck. Nothing in this world sounds like a game of air hockey. It was 11:00 at night and a couple, in their mid-40’s, were enjoying a vigorous game of air-hockey. I assumed she was winning because she said to her partner, “What do you want?” “Do you want me to loose on purpose?”
As I walked through the store, I wondered about this couple who had made air hockey at Wal-Mart their date night. I will have to confess this option had slipped my mind. In 33 years of marriage that thought had never occurred to me. Then my thoughts drifted to her question – “What do you want?” It is a profound question.
What do you want? What do I want? More significantly, “What does God want?” God, speaking a word to the prophet Micah, pronounces that what He wants is for His people to act with justice, be in love with mercy, grace and walk with God in a spirit of humility.
While this desire of God seems clear and simple enough, it is not easy to live out because of what we want. Often, we want what is “just” and “fair” for us. We want grace extended to us. Most of all, we want God to walk with us as we navigate our path in life. God’s desire is different. God wants us to walk in humility “with” Him. This means we are here to serve His purpose and participate in His plan for humanity. This purpose and plan includes extending grace and mercy to other people. It means working toward a nation that is just and fair for all people. Simply put, what God wants is for us to want what He wants. This is what Jesus was teaching, when he instructed us to pray, to come before God and say, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
However, what I find in my life and I suspect the same is true for you, is that what I want and what God wants pull at each other. For most of us, there is this spiritual tug-o-war happening in our hearts. It is our will, pulling against God’s will, that often creates a spiritual impasse in our pursuit of growth.
This week, as I write this letter, the news is filled with stories about the partial government shut down. Network news stations are sharing stories of administrative people trying to pay rent, brides whose weddings on the National Mall have been cancelled, parents and their children turned away from National Parks, single moms who rely on nutritional programs, veterans waiting for their benefits and people seeking disability insurance.
The real story is not being told. It is the story of a nation divided over want. While I am not the one to articulate the political, financial and cultural division grid locking our nation, I can say we are a nation that no longer wants what God wants.
When I was a kid we used to say The Pledge of Allegiance every morning before school. We would stand, place our hand over our hearts, turn slightly toward the American Flag and we would all say together, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
I think the prophet Micah would have been pleased to think about a unified nation, desperately pursuing freedom, grace and justice for all. Most of all, he would have loved that we thought of ourselves as a nation “under God.”
This is the real story, the story no one is telling. It is not just government employees that are suffering, or brides wanting to get married on the National Mall, or parents wanting to walk their children in a National Park, or single moms who need to feed their children, or Veterans trying to get their benefits. The truth is we are all suffering the consequences of a nation that no longer seeks to be “under God.” We have become reduced to the tensions of self-interest and misplaced want.
What is the hope of America? I thought again about that couple spending Friday night playing air hockey at the local Wal-Mart, while they share a coke and some friendly banter. What is their hope?
I remain convinced; the hope of this nation is the church of Jesus Christ. America’s hope is a unified church, under God, full of people devoted to justice, mercy, compassion and humility.
Over the next 5 weeks, together, we are going to consider what it means to live a generous life. We are going to discover that God doesn’t want our time, money or future. What God wants is our hearts.
I look forward to seeing you in worship this Sunday. We’ll enjoy the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Everyone will be especially friendly and God has already promised me He will show up in a huge way.