I think I’ve commented on this verse before, but it is so fundamental that its applications seem never ending. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown thee, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”
What this tells us is the God looks at our character, our heart, not our intelligence, socioeconomic status, or anything else. For us as academics, at the top of our field, where we receive accolades because of our abilities, this can be difficult to accept.
How often do we privately groan at some example of pure idiocy in the words or actions of someone on TV or around us in daily life? How often do we tend to think of ourselves, however subtly or sophisticatedly, as being “more” in some way than the poor pathetic who doesn’t know on which foot to put their shoe?
As strange as it is, that usually seems to matter little to God. He cares about the condition of their hearts and ours.
It puzzles me a bit when I think through this because I don’t understand why God would seem to create such a profound diversity of intellectual ability, when it creates so many problems in life when people do dumb things. Obviously, from time to time we all do dumb things, but some seem to have a talent for it.
Of course, we could make similar arguments for many of our abilities, gifts and talents. Why did God make such a wide range of ability in >blank< area? In particular, the heart of the question is why He created some people so bad in >blank<? Come on, some level of diversity is good, but do we really have to explore the low end of the spectrum that thoroughly??
I honestly don’t have the answer to that question. Honestly, if I were God, ‘those’ people would frustrate the tar out of me. It’s probably good, therefore, that I am not God.
What it does tell me though, is that our views on equality, diversity, and opportunity, reward and laudability are not the same as God’s. Jesus offered a stiff warning in Matthew 25:40, “Whatsoever you’ve done to the least of these My brethren, you do it also to Me.”
There are at least three key points in that one sentence.
1) He explicitly acknowledges a differential in ability or some other metric.
2) He still counts them as not only important to Him, but His brethren.
3) Injustice to them, or justice, mercy, or respect towards them counts as the same being done to Him.
Interestingly, like in other places in Scripture, it isn’t clear strictly from His words whether the metric used was a good one or not. His concern is our behaviour towards others, and seems to point out that the quality of our behaviour needs be less focused on who they are, yet crystal clear on Whose they are.
We say a lot, especially here in the States, about how all humans are created equal. Yet, we don’t spend nearly so much time thinking on what that equality means or looks like. Thus, we tend to get wound up on the wrong spindle. We think we have to treat everyone identically rather than treating them equally. I think this is a product of our highly analytical, math-centric society, where equality clearly connotes identity.
However, as any good parent knows, two children can be loved equally, yet treated very differently because they are different people. For example, we can say all porcelain is equal, but that doesn’t mean we treat fine china like a toilet, and vice versa. It is an extreme example, but it illustrates the point that not everyone is the same, yet they have the same Origin. Thus, we need to allow for these differences in personhood, protecting some in different ways than others, rebuking others in different ways than still others, and so on. And, to do it with mercy, grace, and love, as if it is Christ Himself.
That takes a lot more work than cranking them through a mill or a bureaucracy, and far more emotional investment than work. But it boils down to three (deceptively) simple phrases: do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God. When it gets right down to it on a daily level, I’m not sure which is harder.
Thankfully, as Christians, we have the Holy Spirit, our Counselor, for just this issue.