Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
from Micah 6:8
For me, this simple quote from the minor prophet Micah sums up what it means to live a spiritual life.
Today, with all of the strife and friction which lie at the intersection of faith and politics, many are choosing to abdicate the political space and pretend that “religion and politics don’t mix”. Even today, as we form this new spiritual community, the IRS requires us to pinky swear we will not be engaged in “substantial lobbying activity” or “political campaign activity”. And we won’t. Pinky swear.
But what we will do is point out with granular specificity where our morals, and our ideas of justice may be expressed in civic life. For us, the kind of justice that Jesus sought to have practiced by the church/government of his day is every bit as relevant today as it was then. Healing the sick is justice. Feeding the hungry is justice. Honoring the disenfranchised is justice. Freeing the falsely imprisoned is justice. And so, to cite a very current example, demanding reparations for the families of slain innocents whose only real crime was to be black, and with the same voice demanding accountability, transparency, and a genuine change of heart, mind, and practice from the law enforcement agencies which have taken those lives is an example of the justice we seek at the intersection of love and law.
And when we ask ourselves how we will “love kindness”, we can look to some of the simplest and yet most difficult teachings of Jesus: “Love God…Love your neighbor as yourself…Love your enemies.” Love. And even further, it is not enough to feel the emotion; KINDNESS implies a learned behavior; a way of being. “The state or quality of being of a good or benevolent nature or disposition; kind behavior.”
So, since explaining this simple concept is at times not only counter-productive, but also a cause of resistance, we are called to be examples – to lovekindness by livingkindness. And here comes the really tough part: we need to be kind even to the unkind. I know; it’s hard. But if we really want to make lasting change, it is the only path that stands a chance.
And how do we “walk humbly with our God”? To me, that means we remain teachable, and in order to remain teachable, we must not only be open to learning, but actively seeking new understanding of truth. Buddhists teach this pursuit as a path, “the noble eightfold way, namely, right understanding, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right attention, right concentration, and right meditation”; a manner of living which is transformational. By subsuming our ego, we allow the spirit of the divine to work on us, in us, as us, and through us. And because the nature of God (Spirit; the Universe; the Divine; and a thousand other names) is love, we become love in action – we express compassion for all.
Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crosson wrote in The Last Week that “Compassion—love—is utterly central to the message and life of Jesus, and justice is the social form of compassion. To put the same thought in different language, love is the soul of justice, and justice is the body, the flesh, of love.” Our purpose at the Magic City Spiritual Community is to practice love, seek truth, and to demand justice. It will be our way of doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God, and we hope you will join us.