Micah isn’t exactly a household word. Too bad. Though obscure, the ancient prophet had his stuff together. Eclipsed by the much more famous Isaiah, who ministered among the elite, Micah took God’s message to the streets.
Micah had a deep suspicion of phony religion. He saw greed in the hearts of the leaders of the kingdom of Judah, which prompted him to warn the common folk not to be deceived by religious pretense among nobility. In true prophetic style, Micah comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. He condemned sin. He exposed performance-based piety. He championed the cause of the oppressed. He predicted the fall of the nation. And he did it all at the risk of his own life.
But Micah didn’t just denounce and attack, leaving everyone aware of the things he despised but none of the things he believed. Like rays of brilliant sunlight piercing charcoal-colored clouds after a storm, the prophet saved his best words for a positive message to the people, and I am pleased to say that he did it with simplicity: “With what shall I come to the LORD and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Mic. 6:6–7).
Micah’s words state exactly what many, to this day, wonder about pleasing God. Teachers and preachers have made it so sacrificial . . . so complicated . . . so extremely difficult. To them, God is virtually impossible to please. Therefore, religion has become a series of long, drawn-out, deeply painful acts designed to appease this peeved Deity in the sky who takes delight in watching us squirm.
Micah erases the things on the entire list, replacing the complicated possibilities with one of the finest definitions of simple faith: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6:8).
God does not look for big-time, external displays. He does not require slick public performances.
What is required? Slow down and read the list aloud: to do justice . . . to love kindness . . . and to walk humbly with your God. Period.
Faith is not a long series of religious performances or a pile of pious things. All God asks for is simple faith.