Act Justly, love kindly, walk humbly

Good Morning Church,

The most well known physicists in human history, Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein, both had a great appreciation for the order of our universe. ‘The overwhelming impression is of order…[in] the universe’ (‘The Time of His Life’, Gregory Benford, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Apr. 2002), and that ‘behind everything is an order’ (Einstein Revealed, PBS, 1997). Yes, this ‘order’ IS apparent everywhere.

We see this, over eons of universal expansion, there has been an ordering of all matter into what we see and interact with every day. The chaos described in Genesis 1 is seen in the evolutionary development of our stars, planets and galaxies. Here on Earth we have seen atoms form into molecules, which in turn become compounds, single-celled organisms and complex organisms. There is an ordering of the world down to the smallest forms of matter that we can only witness through a very powerful microscope. Isn’t God’s creation simply astounding and worth beholding?

What we see on Earth is everything ordering itself into a large whole. I believe that this is well suited when we are thinking about the meaning of life. It's well suited because we spend our lives learning, growing, and adding new things to make a more complete whole of ourselves. Love is a component of this “more complete whole”. Think of the times that you have experienced love and the times that you have experienced something quite different. When we feel love, it is as if it’s adding something more to our “complete whole”. The opposite is true when we have experienced something different, we lose something of our “complete whole”.

Just like our bodies can be fragile and the smallest thing can throw everything out of whack, or spiritual self can be thrown out of whack when we experience something different from love. Like creation itself, God has made our spiritual selves to live within this delicate ecosystem of love. We are not created to be surrounded by negativity and cruel nature. We are created to be surrounded by love, kindness, and care.

When we look too scripture to understand the love that God designed for us to experience, we see time and time again that love is unconditional, yet human nature is one of competitiveness, selfishness, and aggression. The whole concept of the American dream needs to be taken with a grain of salt, not because all of what it teaches is bad, but because with any human made institution it lends itself to these negative parts of the human condition. We are trained that we need to get ahead of others because it’s the only way we will get the dream we are told we need to achieve. This dream, though good in many respects, can make us live in ways that are counter to the way of Jesus and it is for this reason that Christians have often been a bit counter cultural.

The love, which Jesus taught, calls us to live for the greater good of all even above our own personal welfare. “love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col. 3:14) ‘Greater love has no-one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.’ (John 15:13) Love inherently means that we be willing to give up something of our own life for another. Love means that we be willing to make ourselves second to all other people.

Sometimes this comes in the form of a church serving the community where they live and doing all that they can to make sure all people feel the love of Jesus. Sometimes this comes in the form of societies recognizing their down falls and working to make amends for past wrong doings. Sometimes this means welcoming the stranger that once would have made us uncomfortable because they may actually be Jesus in our midst. Remember that whatever we do for the least of these your brothers and sisters, you have done for me. The last shall be first and the first shall be last. Love means laying down our lives for others as Jesus laid down his life for every human that has ever and will ever live.

The love that we experience in Jesus was always a part of God’s interaction with the world, but there was this moment of covenant with David that changed the way in which God interacted and was a precursor the love we would experience in Jesus. We see this in the very beginning of our psalm for today where the Psalmist offers God’s steadfast love and the covenant with David. The themes run throughout the remainder of this Psalm and offer us a glimpse into the faithfulness shown to the people of God during the Babylonian exile. The key words are steadfast love (Hebrew hesed) and covenant (Hebrew berit). Together, these two words form one of the most powerful theological tag-teams in the Psalter, because both words have to do with God's character.

This steadfast love is the foundation of all balanced life and is the glue that holds our wholeness together. ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8, 16) is what the writer of 1 John described for the believer. To follow the eternal and everlasting God is to embrace the steadfast love that binds all of us together as one. It is the job of humanity to honor and glorify this God of love by being the hands and feet of this unconditional love in all the world.

I want to end this morning with a simple lesson that can give us the framework we need to live into this unconditional love of God. This week I attended the Leadership Institute with Church of The Resurrection in Kansas City. The theme for the Institute was Micah 6:8, which calls us to Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly with God. I believe that if we want to flip the script on those moments when we may capitulate to the human condition that doesn’t look so kind, we can follow this. I believe that when we live like this, we lead others to a better way of life through our example. The love of Jesus Christ continually expands to fit the needs of an every changing world. Sometimes we do not do well in following the Spirits call, but God is there to give us a helping hand along the journey of life. This week, offer the love of Jesus to someone who may be in need. Care for the broken hearted, love the people who may not love you in return, be the change you want to see in the world. Through the love of Jesus flowing through our lives, there is nothing that can stop the transformative power of God. Amen.