Exactly four years ago – on the very Wednesday before the election – I wrote “My Silent Witness.” The 2016 presidential campaign was coming to a close and wow – it had been brutal. For six months prior to the 2016 election, I wore a necklace every day bearing words based on Micah 6:8: “Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly.”
It’s no surprise, but these words still ring true to me today in 2020. No wonder they’ve stood the test of time. Act. Love. Walk. These action words call us to be better, to do better. Like much of what we read in scripture, these words challenge us to live out our faith in concrete ways.
As this year’s hard-to-stomach presidential campaign comes to a close, a new scripture has emerged that challenges me perhaps as much as Micah 6:8.
This fall I virtually attended Church of the Resurrection’s Leadership Conference. A few days before the conference, I received a box full of swag. A present, for me? Why thank you! Coffee, a pen, a coaster, a framed piece of art of Micah 6:8, and a hand-written note from one of the organizers. This conference, even if it was online, was a classy affair.
Included in the box was a sticker that simply stated the scripture, “Love your neighbor.” Adam Hamilton later explained that this was a major campaign that Church of the Resurrection was promoting: “Love your neighbor.”
Before I put it on my car, I somehow buried it under a pile of papers. When I would think about it – I remembered it being, “Love one another.” I’m pretty sure I reworded it that way because “Love one another” is ten times easier to do than to “Love your neighbor.” When I think of loving one another I think of my circle, my crew, and my people with whom I share an affinity.
But my neighbor?
That could be the guy that has political signs that are an anathema to me. Or the woman that doesn’t bother putting signs up at all and I question if she is on the “right” side. These are people that I did not choose to live next to. And yet, Jesus says to love them too?
I resist because I fear that I will be selling out on my principles. I might even be selling out my faith to “love my neighbor.” Undoubtedly, that’s my immature self speaking because I know better. The words of Jesus and all those other places in the scriptures that say “love your neighbor” – both Hebrew and Greek – knew what they were talking about. It’s a stretch goal. They must have figured out how hard it would be to love the person next door to you or they wouldn’t have had to hammer the same thing over and over…
Love. Your. Neighbor.
A couple of days ago, Sojourners Verse and Voice shared this from Valerie Bridgeman:
If in fact we owe one another love,
then we owe one another justice,
which includes repairing the damages done,
individually and collectively, in community.
According to scripture, I really do owe my neighbor love. But like Micah 6:8, I can’t sit on my duff and hope that someone else will “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.” No, that’s on me to do. And it’s on me to actively figure out what it means practically to “love my neighbor.” And it’s on me to continue to work for justice no matter what election day brings.
So, bring it on. I may be on my knees praying really hard on November 3rd but I’m ready to face the day on November 4th – to love my neighbor, to act justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly. It’s the very least and the very most I can do. But right now…go out there and vote.