Thursday, January 23, 2014

Clear Expectations

In preparation to serve in Venezuela, The Mission Society sent us to Mission Training International (MTI) in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  One of the best things they gave us at MTI was a long (and entertaining!) session on what to expect as far as phases of inculturalization—they told us about the roller-coaster of feelings that would hit us over the first year of service.  At first, all would be new and novel and joyful—“Wow! Tastes great! What fun!”  Then, we’d start comparing and criticizing everything—“Ugh…too sweet. I just want a hamburger! Not the way we do back home!”  Finally, we’d find a balance in which we recognized that our host country and the US were simply different with their own strengths and weaknesses…and we could live in both.  Knowing what to expect helped us to move forward with confidence…and saved us from packing our bags in phase two and heading back to the US!

Just as MTI prepared us by making expectations clear, God has done the same—

          He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
             and what does the LORD require of you
          but to do justice, and to love kindness,
             and to walk humbly with your God?  (Micah 6:8 NRSV)

Do justice.  Do what’s right, be about ‘right-ness’…or righteousness.  Often, we easily latch onto to big issues like education, immigration or human-relations issues.  While we want to see justice there, our focus there often distracts us from doing right by our own families—spouse, children, parents, siblings.  We may march on Washington…and neglect to fulfill our promises to our children.  God expects us to do what’s right.

Love kindness.  Our world could sure use a little more of this!  What a different world if we were kind in our interactions.  Yes, easy enough in the check-out line at Kroger or H.E.B. to smile at the cashier and wish him or her a nice day.  But, what about kindness on the highways…letting someone in the long line of traffic?  What about kindness at work…letting a co-worker take a more ‘interesting’ project this time around? And, again, what about kindness to those closest to us? A kind word or act may just change the course of the day for someone….

Walk humbly with your God.  Some folks just park—they accept Christ and they think the journey’s done.  Others are on the fast track to spiritual maturity or of church growth.  God calls us to join Him on a walk…a slow journey.  A walk goes places…but allows for conversation, observation…relationship. 
Of course, the first two can’t happen unless the last one is in place.  Try as we might, we can’t do right and be kind unless we’re walking with God.  But, once we walk with Him, we find that we want to do what’s right, and we want to be kind…because that is what He wants.

What does God expect of us?  This is a good place to start—do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Him.  If we begin here, we’ll find our lives and lives of those around us transformed.