My wife and I are expecting our first child in only two weeks. I’ve had nine months to reflect on what is about to be expected of me, and I have asked many questions:
"Am I going to be a good father?"
"How am I going to do the little things like going to Wal-Mart or eating outwith a new baby?"
"How’s the baby going to effect my relationship with my wife?"
And I have again asked God, "What do you want from me?"and "How can I please you?"
It is in these life-altering moments that we ask the big questions. I asked similar questions when I graduated from high school, got a new job, and when I got married. It is also in moments of despair and confusion that we ask the big questions. I asked similar questions when my father died when I was seventeen.
It is in these moments that we seek direction, purpose,and clarity. One of the clearest statements about God’s expectations of us is found in Micah 6:8 (Message)- "But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously."
The immediate context is a description of a cosmic courtroom. God is the plaintiff bringing a case against Judah. God’s charge against them is that they have grown tired of God and have gone their own way. Judah’s complaint against God is that He doesn’t care about them because bad things are happening to them. God clearly points out that their suffering was due to their own sin. Then He asks them to remember all the ways that He rescued and saved them. The people of Judah acknowledge their sin and seek a way to make it right with God. They suggest that they can please God if they offer more sacrifices to God. Micah screams, "No! God doesn’t want more rituals. He is more interested in your behavior, your relationships with people, and in your relationship with Him."
It’s easy for us to look at the people of Judah and see their hypocrisy. But how many times have we done the same thing? We realize our sin and offer to make it up to God by saying we’ll go to church more, pray more, or give more. God wants us to change our lifestyles, not just a few ritualistic activities.
Micah 6:8 gives simple guidance to all of us who see religion as complicated. God’s expectations sound simple enough – to do right, to love people, and to have a close relationship with Him. Yet even when God’s expectations are in their simplest form, we realize that we cannot meet His requirements. Thus, we must do like many others before us: seek His grace.
Read the book of Micah. It’s not that long.
[Jeremy Walden is a husband, father, former youth minister, and owner of Next Gen Publishing.]