[Adapted from Session 3 of the 2014 Theme Material]
We all love a story in which the dark and ugly turns glorious and good. A story where a creature so hideous no one dared look on it turns into a handsome prince, the cowardly lion takes courage and protects others, Cinderella rises from the mop bucket to become queen and rule kindly, Pinocchio turns into a real boy, Scrooge becomes generous . . . they become everything they never thought they could be – transformed.
As humans we love stories of transformation where a person is not just improved but made new. The story of mankind that God is writing does not end with justice but with transformation.
Micah 6:8 was written to people in need of transformation. Though the book’s tone is one of judgment, the theme of restoration cannot be missed. The God of all creation sees and cares about the most vulnerable and weak. He cares enough to warn his own people that they are also vulnerable and weak. He urges them and we are urged to be humble, to love mercy and to be just. That is, in fact, required by God.
Maybe the simplest way to increase humility and mercy is to intentionally grow in justice. While only God can transform he has clearly stated what he requires from us. Justice is:
- Straight Forward: In Isaiah 1 and Micah 5 there are basic commands: stop doing bad and selfish things and do good. Take care of the weak, lift up the poor, free the oppressed and feed the hungry.
- A Way of Life: God wants justice – not in fits and starts or here and there. God wants justice to permeate, penetrate and restore people. He wants justice to refresh the weary, to ease the thirst of the downtrodden. God wants justice to wash away injustice. He wants it to soak in and nourish our relationship with one another. Like a never-ending river, God wants justice to flow day and night
- Us, Not “Us and Them”: Unfortunately, we often take on a rescuers mentality, but the people we serve are able to teach us much about life and they bear the image of Almighty God. They are to be valued and their skills, gifts and abilities understood to better the community. See https://vimeo.com/25101770.
- Using the chainsaw first and then, maybe, the tweezers: We have to confront the beam in our own eye (Luke 6:42). Jesus’ admonition has an almost instant humbling effect reminding us we are in need of transformation.
Our culture of consumerism and greed set us up as “haves and have-nots”. This attitude must not be transferred into our pursuit of a just life. In fact, justice in not what we eagerly await but transformation by God’s grace and Christ’s work. The gospel brings us the opportunity, desire and power to adhere to God’s requirements of humility, mercy and just living.
As mortals we are, by God’s grace and through the work of Christ, being moved from darkness into his light. He is causing us to take courage and teaching us to rule kindly in his kingdom. Part of us must love those stories of transformation and truly find fulfillment in helping others because we long to see God’s complete work in our own lives and world.
For real life stories of how the Gospel is transforming lives around the world be sure to check out World Renew’s website at worldrenew.net.