Thursday, February 17, 2011

Justice and Mercy Redux

Over the summer I posted a link to a sermon I gave at our church.  The text for the sermon was Micah 6:8 and the title "Justice and Mercy."  I also noted in a previous post that our church staff is currently involved in a study using the Kairos Lifeshapes tools.  The most recent shape we've looked at is the triangle as a tool for managing our relationships.

The three basic relationships in our lives are up, in, and outUp refers to our relationship with God, in to our relationship with a closer circle of friends, and out to our relationship with the larger world.  Jesus reflects this balance in his relationships, spending focused time alone with God, time in the company of a few disciples, and time among the crowd.  It only makes sense that we would strive for the same type of balance in our own lives.

The resource we use for this study compares the angles of the triangle to the three commands from Micah 6:8.  At first I didn't see the connection, and even felt like I had spent time trying to understand Micah 6:8, and this didn't seem to fit with my understanding.  The connection between walking humbly with Our God and the "up" portion of the triangle seems obvious.  But acting justly being an outward focus and loving mercy being an inward focus doesn't fit quite as nicely.

But then I got it.  Just last month I posted a video of Cornell West on the Colbert Report with a little commentary.  One of the quotes I shared was as follows: "Justice is what love looks like in public, just like tenderness is what it looks like in private."  If the "out" angle of the triangle represents how we relate to the world, this makes perfect sense--Justice is what love looks like in public.  And the "in" angle of the triangle represents how we relate to those we are closest to--Tenderness is what it looks like in private. (I'm taking liberty of associating tenderness and mercy)  The power to do both comes from the love of God which we draw from our upward relationship because after all, God is Love (1 John 4:8 & 16).

So may we learn to balance the relationships in our lives, acting justly in the world, showing mercy to those we love, and walking humbly with our God.

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