“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

December, 2004

After last month’s election, the various pollsters and analysts told us that the deciding factors in the election were spirituality and morality. Personally, I looked at the  two presidential candidates and saw one who was moral and one who wasn’t, one who was honest with the American people and one who wasn’t, one who was prepared to lead us into the future and one who was prepared to return us to the past. And it wasn’t who some of you might think it was, in either case.

The prophet Micah wrote, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Mic. 6:8 NIV). These three things, justice, mercy, and humility, were clearly present in one candidate–at least as present as they can be in a man who thinks he’s qualified to be President–and markedly absent in the other. If there is no justice, no mercy, and no humility before God, there is no spirituality and no morality. Everything else is merely for show. What about us? How well do we meet God’s requirements?

Jesus called the teachers and Pharisees hypocrites because their religion was all show but lacked the fundamentals. They gave freely of their possessions but treated others badly. “But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness.” (Matt. 23:23b NIV). Again, he demanded justice, mercy, and humility before God—faithfulness.

Jesus was once asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He answered, ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”’” (Matt. 22:36, 37b-39 NIV). If we love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, we’ve barely met the requirements.

Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual  act of worship.” (Rom. 12:1 NIV). The King James Version words the last part of the verse slightly differently: “. . . which is your reasonable service.” “Reasonable.” Your body as a living sacrifice, and Paul calls it “reasonable.” He goes on to write, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind. . . . Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,” (Rom. 12:2b, 3b NIV). God wants both your body and your mind. And God wants humility—“sober judgment” of ourselves–again.

James wrote, “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.” (Jas. 1:27 NIV). Look after the poor and vulnerable. Again, justice in practice.

We are called as Christ’s representatives in the world to let others see Christ in us. How can we show them Christ? By practicing justice, mercy, and humility before God. Our decisions at the ballot box and in everyday life can reflect Christ. The stands we take and the issues that matter to us can show Christ. Our spirituality can’t just be words; it must be expressed in the way we live our lives. If we live for Christ, others will see that our words are true and our faith is real.

“With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Mic. 6:6-8 NIV).

Copyright © 2004 by David Phelps