Choosing God, choosing lands, and choosing the peoples one lives with, both then and now, is no easy task. Nevertheless, the good news, while not always easy or comforting, is that the borders of our identities and lands have always been permeable. Could that be our embodied witness?
Those who commit dehumanizing acts of violence—whether through physical harm, abusive exploitation, or benign neglect—themselves become debased and subhuman, even as they sit in positions of power. Indeed, Micah puts this in sharp relief … where he depicts the corrupt “leaders and rulers” as ravenous animals who cannibalize those who the Lord has placed in their care.
Rather than read it prescriptively to justify my own identification as a “righteous Christian,” I now read this passage for what it is: a poem that describes the resilience of a people who found true comfort and safety in God, despite attacks from those who would cause them harm.
In this hymnic account of Jesus’ person and mission, his preference for and service to others becomes a paradigm for faithful human existence. God’s solidarity with the human race discloses the truth of both power and freedom.
If we are willing to listen to those standing around without work, however, a new possibility emerges. Why are they standing around without work? “Because no one has hired us,” they reply (Matthew 20:7). They aren’t lazy, they’re desperate enough to stand around all day waiting for work. The laborers are many; the jobs are few.
The capacious and eternal love of God is neither a verifiable fact nor an opinion, but a theological truth-claim, staked on trust in Jesus as a credible witness. Christians who believe in such love should be wary of both the politics of condemnation and the politics of purity.