Following Jesus Together

Like Amos before him, the prophet Micah railed against the social injustice of his day. He reminded Israel that religious worship and ritual are meaningless if they do not lead to changed hearts and actions. What the Lord requires, Micah said, is to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.

For Christians, what the Lord requires is all the more clear because of Jesus’ life, teaching, death and rising. We have just celebrated the birth of Christ. And the Incarnation is not about some abstract notion of “God being with us.” It is quite specifically about God revealed to us in the person of Jesus. Indeed, Jesus said whoever has seen me has seen the Father. So as Christians, we claim that what we know about God, we know because of Jesus.

Jesus’ preaching on inaugurating God’s kingdom has everything to do with self-giving and reconciliation. He spent his time crossing boundaries, eating and drinking with people on the margins — the poor, the sick, outcasts, prostitutes, tax collectors — and rebuking those who see themselves as insiders or somehow better than others, in particular because of their social and religious standing. The prophet Micah would have liked Jesus!

Jesus said repeatedly, “Follow me.” In other words, he calls us who would be his disciples to model his compassion, inclusion and understanding of God’s love and righteousness in our lives. And he calls his followers to join in creating the Kingdom of God now.

For Jesus, the transforming power of the Kingdom of God starts within each one of us and not with some external force. In bits and pieces, it breaks in here and there in your life and mine. A transformed world, manifesting God’s love, justice and reconciliation, happens one life at a time, one community at a time. But as his disciples, what the Lord requires is that we do indeed follow him, and through his grace, discover the seeds of God’s kingdom in our hearts. We will then discover the truth of our lives and the world Jesus came to announce.

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