Micah 6.1-8; 1 Corinthians 1.26-31
I’ve never been lost … in a mountain wilderness, or at sea … cast adrift in a lifeboat, or whatever …
There was a time in northern Michigan, a friend and I went hunting for morel mushrooms … he went one way, and I the other, and for a time, I was lost in the forest … not quite sure which way to turn for the road and our car, nor did I have a clue as to where my friend was.
Several years ago, D and I were traveling in Southern France, and in the city of Arles, we had a hotel reservation, and some directions … with google, we got close, but ended up going literally in circles … we were “this close,” and couldn’t find our way … even asking some locals for help, who provided us with suggestions, but language-differences made it difficult at best.
We parked the car, I called the hotel, and learned that the street we needed to be on was on the other side of the area where we had now parked our car … so, we started all over again … retracing our way, and finally came to the right road, blocked by a pylon … and when we called back to the hotel, the lady at the desk pushed a button, and, presto, the pylon went down into the roadway … we drove on and arrived at our hotel.
There have been times when I’ve been emotionally lost … having spent my all … too tired to go any further … coming to a point when nothing had a point … nothing had purpose … faith seemed a waste of time, and God? … maybe a figment of my imagination, or the imagination of the world.
A part of living is being lost now and then … something changes, things get turned upside down, bad things happen, friends disappoint, relationships crumble, life falls apart … worst of all, when we disappoint ourselves … when we make really bad decisions … when we quite blaming others, and find the fault to be ours.
We’re all lost now and then …
We’re human beings … with an incredible capacity to screw up … hurt others, make crummy choices … follow the map when the map is upside down, and somehow or other we know it’s upside down, but we’re too stubborn to flip the map.
Finding our way?
A hiker might have a compass, maybe a map … we have google, we have Amazon … we have friends who stand by us, family to help us … here in this place, we have the deep traditions of faith, hope, and love …
We have a “sacred” text … a source of light and hope for millions who have opened its pages to read of God’s creation, God’s covenant with a people called Israel, the gift of Christ, God’s Lamb, who takes on the sins of the world, to chart a new course, Paul the Apostle to the nations, and that wild and wooly book of Revelation.
Myself, personally, I have found the text from Micah to be vital to my own story … vital to the welfare of the church …
Micah asks the right questions - what do we have to bring to life to make life good? How much effort will it take? What kinds of sacrifice? How much will it cost?
Micah’s questions are the questions of ambition … whatever the ambition might be - a material ambition … a spiritual ambition … the ambition of power … the ambition of hurt and hate, to get even with others … the ambition to love, the ambition to build a better world.
What must I do to gain my place in the world? And what should that place look like?
The world never runs out of advice … every ad touches the ambition-button in our lives - fame, fortune, happiness … winning the lottery … being cozy and comfortable … eternally youthful skin, endless energy, chiseled abs - getting your child into Yale or Harvard, how to ace the tests … the latest in styles, … a new car with all the gizmos and gadgets we could want.
What will win the day?
Micah goes through the usual list - expensive and dramatic things … burnt offerings, calves a year old, thousands of rams, rivers of oil … even my firstborn? … a hint of what human beings are willing to pay for ambition.
The Prophet Micah goes to the heart of the matter … his counsel, his advice, his word: move away from the self; move toward the needs of the world … celebrate the love of God, affirm creation’s diversity, engage the world in deeds of love and kindness.
A justice-love … to see the needs of another and never rest until those needs are met …
Micah says to each of us: God has made clear what’s needed … God has made clear what is good … God has made clear what is right … do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God.
Paul the Apostle invites us to consider our calling … in other words, put on our thinking caps … give some thought to who we are, and how we live … do some soul-searching - to find our greatness, and our sin … to know our power to love, and our power to be small-minded and selfish … our ability to love God, and our ability to be be hateful … yes, the whole kit and caboodle … know who we are, in the light of Christ, and by the light of Christ, find our true selves.
Paul writes to the church in Corinth … a church troubled by ambition …
Spiritual ambition of the worst kind - to be better than others … those with money flaunted their wealth to the embarrassment of those who had less … those with spiritual gifts used those gifts to elevate their own sense of importance and power. The Corinthian Church was a mess.
Paul shifts the center of gravity - reminds the Corinthians that God has chosen them, given them everything … no one becomes a Christian on their own volition - people can join the church, but becoming a Christian is the work of the Holy Spirit … every spiritual gift, given by the Holy Spirit, for the sake of the church, for the world, and everyone in it.
Finding our way?
We have Micah’s words in one hand, Paul’s counsel in the other, and Christ in the center … we have a roadmap … a plan, a method, a blueprint - to keep our ambitions aligned with the kingdom of God … our life purpose focused in Christ … our hopes and dreams, real and godly … the years of our lives, thoughtful, balanced, and wise …
Finding our way? … indeed!
To God be the glory. Amen and Amen!