Justice. Mercy. Humility. A Simple Path to Following Jesus

by Rusty George

From the time our youth pastor first strummed the tune on his guitar the words of Micah 6:8 have tugged at my heart. Even if I learned the verse in King James English. And even if the act of playing a guitar in church outraged the saints. The verse offered a simple path to following Jesus. “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God” couldn’t be that complicated, could it?

The chorus and the verse have made me question the disconnect between what my Protestant church says—do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God—and what it does. Deny women equality in leadership. Condemn unwed mothers and anyone else carrying around a visible sin. Disfellowshipping those who ‘go astray.’

Sure, they try to live out the mercy part—they sponsor one of the world’s largest disaster relief organizations. But the church as an entity often fails to have mercy on the individuals who don’t fit the mold of saint.

And I often wonder what would happen if we as a church had less pride in our doctrine and its ‘rightness’ and more humility towards other ways of seeing and doing. Especially when our pride gets in the way of forming authentic relationships with others.

A Simple Path to Following Jesus

Rusty George breaks down Micah 6:8 and examines, first of all, our ‘relationship with God’ and how we let the fine print of our chosen denomination tether us to a narrow construct of what it means to be a Christian. At the end of the chapter (and each subsequent chapter), he has a to-do list and discussion questions. I love the format because it allows me to act on what I’ve read and provides discussion starters for those who read the book in community.

According to George, Micah wrote during a time period in Israel that parallels our current time period in history. The Israelites suffered from the effects of radical societal changes and anxiety. “God’s people were losing their identity, forgetting their story, and were threatened with losing it entirely…”

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God’s answer, revealed through Micah? Return to the basics. Not the basics of calling out sin, preaching damnation and hell, and adhering to strict rules and regulations. But the basics of making sure each individual—as well as the corporate body—acted justly. The basics of learning to love mercy—both individual and as a church. And most importantly, learning to call out pride in self that gets in the way of actually walking with God.

George points out that justice consists of more than foreign mission trips and feeding the homeless once a year. “If the only way we define justice is by our preference, then our definition of justice is limited to our personality, and thus will only benefit us.”

Readers might find themselves startled at times by what George has to say. For example, “Do we feel our identity is based on the ability to say YES to every request, or are we humble enough to let God be the only one omnipresent?” I know I’ve fallen prey to the need for omnipresence more than once. It wears me out. Now I know it’s false humility, too.

How to Get the Most Out of the Book

Justice. Mercy. Humility. A Simple Path to Following Jesus, reminds me of a good meal at my favorite Indian restaurant. I knew going in that I’ll enjoy the food. Leisurely conversations, and a cornucopia of tantalizing smells surround me. When our food arrives, the flavor combinations punch my taste buds and my companions also fall silent. We savor and share dishes, fortified not just by the food, but by the conversation. It’s what we expected and looked forward to, yet exciting and new at the same time.

Although a wonderful book to read alone, I encourage you to sit down and read Justice. Mercy. Humility. with a group of friends. It acts as a conversation starter and a catalyst for iron to sharpen iron as we struggle to understand what following Jesus means in the 21st Century.

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I receive free electronic advanced reader copies of these books through an arrangement between the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion on NetGalley’s website. I only review books on my blog that I really love.