How clearly do you see the promise & peril of our country during the 2016 election? Are you able to see that there is an American Dream, and that you share in its promise? Can you see how God's hope is calling us forward? Do you see your part to play in solving our perilous problems? Do you believe that our national motto, "In God we trust", provides our pathway forward?
Our greatest challenge as Americans is to identify and claim that "common good" which holds us together. Without a common good we are fragmented by self interests which cause us to war against each other. With a common good we pull ourselves together into a shared effort to help each person engage the American dream as highlighted in our Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
Every generation of Americans has to flesh out this common good. And we are in the midst of a colossal struggle to do this effectively in 2016. Our future existence as a nation depends on our national spirit, our "e pluribus unum", which is teetering on unbridled disunity. Anger politics is grabbing the headlines and fueling the growing mistrust in our diverse nation of 320 million people. Given our crisis, what are we to do? And how can preaching ethics show us our way forward?
Long ago, when another nation confronted a historical crisis, God called out preachers who were willing to preach ethics around the ultimate common good. The prophet Micah saw the promise and declared, "God has showed you O people what is good, what the Lord has required of you - but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
This Hebrew prophet, who lived 700+ years before his prophecy would be fulfilled that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), clarified how we can answer the "promise & peril" questions. Look closely. Listen carefully.
•"God has showed you" - Let's agree on what we know. God calls us to act on what we know to get to what we don't know.
*"O people" - See yourself as a people and not just as individuals standing apart from each other.
•"What is good" - Claim that God provides a common good which is the source of our good will towards each other.
•"What is required of you" - Act. You have a part to play in growing goodness in our world. Begin by personally growing goodness in your life.
•"To do justice" - Be noble by seeing that it is our responsibility to apply justice in everyone of our relationships. As Jesus said, "do unto others as you would have them do to you."
•"To love mercy" - Be kind. Live compassionately by loving people. Build hope by healing hurts. Be a Good Samaritan.
•"And to walk humbly with your God" - Be a life long learner and doer by yearning to live in God's presence.
In light of Micah 6:8, what commitments are you making? The French writer Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote after touring America, "America is great because she is good. If she ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great."
To purchase tickets for the Micah 6:8 conference, or to learn more about the event, please go to texasbaptists.org/micah68.