Saturday, February 17, 2007

Reflection, Feb. 11, 2007

Chi Rho Reflection for the Week of February 11, 2007


As one of the on-going ministries of Chi Rho Press, here is a selection from our book of daily
devotions, "Living as the Beloved: One Day at a Time," by the Rev. Dr. Sandra Bochonok.

Please read the Scripture passage and Dr. Bochonok's meditation. We hope you will be blessed.

Thank you for forwarding this to your friends.

Requirements of true religion

"God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?"
Micah 6:8b

I often feel I fall far short of God's requirements. Micah shows us how our hearts should respond to God. We are taught what is good and required from Torah (Old Testament law). Rather than be rigidly legalistic and dogmatic in matters of organized religion and social concerns, we are to live Torah from our hearts.

Jesus certainly made this clear to the religious leaders of his day who erred on the side of legalism, not compassion. "Woe to you, teachers of the law . . . you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness . . ."
(Matthew 23:23 NIV).

God requires we do justice as our ethical response to community living. Our actions have social
consequences. We are to love "chesed," which is the beautiful Hebrew word that translates as
"mercy." We are to freely and willingly show kindness and mercy to others. All this is humanly
impossible without spiritual humility. Mercy can change the world.

James, believed to have been one of Jesus' brothers, wrote a New Testament passage found in the epistle of James that scholars think of as linked to the words of Micah. In his letter, James emphasizes a vital spirituality that is characterized by good deeds and faith. He summarizes his brother's teachings with the statement, "[F]aith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:17 NIV). If the Hebrew Testament prophets are difficult to read and understand, consider reading the five short chapters in James. James learned true religion from his big brother, Jesus Christ. James gives us an example of what true religion should be by emphasizing the importance of both words and actions.

I often hear people say of others, "Oh, s/he is very religious." What does that mean? Do they
mean those individuals act justly, freely show mercy to others, and humbly walk with their
Higher Power?

James writes a great deal about religion. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure
and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself
from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27 NIV).

God, help me be just, kind, merciful, and humble in word and deed. Amen.

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