August 1, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Truly Human (Part 2)

Genesis 1:26-28

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Yesterday, we talked about how, as humans, we exist as worship to God. As God’s image, we are objects of worship in the temple of God’s creation. But in the passage in Genesis 1, after God proclaims humankind as His image bearers, He gives them a follow-up command. He says to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Subdue the earth and have dominion over it. Basically, as the image of God, we are called to rule God’s creation in His place. Being human, then, means firstly existing as worship and, secondly, means ruling over God’s creation. But what does that look like?

The Bible actually speaks quite frequently about how people ought to rule. These passages often speak of kings in the line of David, which ultimately points to Jesus as the true king. But, remember, Jesus is the true human and we learn what it means to be human by looking at Jesus. So, if Jesus modeled certain royal attributes, we as humans should seek to follow suit. We were created to rule and Jesus shows us how.

When you read passages about kingship in the Bible, there are two words that often stand out: righteousness and justice. For example, we read in Psalm 72:1-2, “Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!” Similarly, in Isaiah 16:5 we read, “Then a throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness.” In God’s eyes, a true ruler would seek righteousness and justice. Being human, as rulers of creation, we ought to likewise seek righteousness and justice. This is what Jesus did – He promoted righteousness (i.e. people being made right with God) and promoted justice (i.e. the availability of healing and wholeness for all people).

What this means is that doing justice and seeking wholeness in our communities is not just something for the “justice-minded” people to think and care about. To be truly human means to truly care about righteousness and justice, to care about communities being healed and systems being promoted that contribute to flourishing for, not just humans, but all of creation. Being human means desiring to see God’s will being done on earth as it is done in heaven. This is what Jesus did. This is what it means to rule over God’s creation in His image. Just as not living as worship is to be subhuman, to not care about righteousness and justice is likewise subhuman.

Today, invite God to show you how to rule with righteousness and justice. See the world with God’s eyes and see the hope of justice and healing, a justice that could even come through you.

Prayer: Lord, teach us to be truly human. May we seek to be bringers of righteousness and justice to this world. There is so much brokenness around us – may our response not be hopelessness, but rather hopefulness. We are Your image and so we can do justice – here and now. May Your Spirit empower us to do this.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 15


Lunch Break Study  

Read Micah 6:6-8: “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”8 He has told you, O man, 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?

Questions to Consider

  1. According to this passage, what does the Lord require of us and what does he not require of us?
  2. What do you think it means “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”?
  3. In what ways can you do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God today?

Notes

  1. The Lord does not require from us empty religion; rather, He requires us to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. Now, this does not mean that church does not matter, that anything religious does not matter, and that all that matters is doing good works. There is a both/and here. Religion is empty when it does not seek justice and righteousness, but there is a place for religion, for church, for worship. Remember, worship is primary. But our worship is empty if we are not loving and caring for those around us. Jesus gave us the great commandment, “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Both are necessary.
  2. In Micah’s day, when this was written, there was a lot of oppression in the nation of Israel. The rich were exploiting the poor, rulers were corrupt, and worship of the Lord was hollow. The people had gotten so caught up in the routine of religion that they neglected what really mattered. Jesus summed up the law by saying we must love God and love people. That was meant to be primary. To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God is to do just that – to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. 
  3. Invite God to show you how you can do this today. Allow His Spirit to guide you.

Evening Reflection

This evening, reflect on what we have talked about as being truly human. We all fall short, that’s why we need God’s help. Invite God to fill you with His Spirit so that you can live out your calling as a human by worshiping and by ruling creation with righteousness and justice.

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