- Micah 6:8, English Standard Version of the Holy Bible
The Micah text was the theme of our Sunday school TAG ("Talking About God") yesterday, and my son is cursed with me as a co-teacher. He kept a wary eye out as I successfully stammered the two lines to our group of eighth graders. I usually choke up, stumble and wipe away tears during this verse but I pulled it together for my teenager.
Do justice and love kindness. Difficult commands at the best of times. Achieving a humble balance seems to be flummoxing the American populace. I'm troubled by Facebook rants that judge people who marched, or people who didn't march, and who say that one group or another is not Christian. I'm sad that relationships are being hurt further by the unkindness that proliferates. How do we show our young people the way to balance both loving kindness and a passion for justice with a godly humility?
We need leaders who can show us that narrow path. There's a dearth of leaders in politics and in churches and in all walks of life who can speak of justice lovingly, who can guide us all through the treacherous maze of right and wrong without sitting in judgment. I myself am the lowliest of sinners, plagued with a lack of patience, a distaste for relinquishing control, a devilish certainty on various issues. I cannot sit in judgment on anyone, but I do believe that God is firmly on the side of the most vulnerable. The Bible tells us repeatedly that actions against women, children, refugees, poor and marginalized are without exception wrong and unjust, and that God requires us to do justice. I interpret justice as protesting unjust laws and edicts, engaging in civil disobedience and acts of valiant citizenship whenever necessary.
I backed off from naming such specific examples in our TAG group, fearful of sowing dissent. I hope that parents are having these discussions at home. Instead, we talked about how our church practices kindness. Kindness, like roses, contains fewer thorny tangles, shows more uniform appeal, smells better than justice. But I wanted to say this, and even more I want our pastors to say it:
- Hate crimes are wrong
- A Muslim ban is wrong
- "Gagging" government agencies is wrong
- Building walls is wrong
- Sexual predation is wrong
Regardless of party, regardless of respect for authority, regardless of our love for each other, it becomes necessary to stand up for what is right and to challenge what is wrong. As Amos put it in another Bible verse about justice, "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." (Amos 5:24) And let us have leaders who can balance doing justice with loving kindness, who can find a humble path through those troubled waters and lead us forward together.