I used this story in the sermon on Sunday to help us examine how we live out our faith and how we live into the words of Micah 6:8, “To do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” Who do we identify with in this story, if not both? In what ways does each brother live out Micah 6:8 and what ways does each brother fail? What can we learn from their successes and failures?
There were once two brothers who both grew up without really going to church. When they reached their teenage years each of the brothers was invited by a friend to go to two very different churches. The one brother went to a church where they were told that God had explained, in the bible and through correct doctrine, exactly how to live and how to think. They were told that they should give ten percent of their income, no matter how much or little they made. They were taught that they should go to worship and bible study on a weekly basis. They were taught to say prayers in the morning, in the evening and before they had meals. They were taught to do devotionals each day and to read the bible from cover to cover every year. They were taught not to put themselves in situations where they might sin, and exactly what those situations looked like and what exactly was a sin.
The other brother went to a church that taught him about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This church also taught about the importance of bible study, worship and prayer. It taught him that it is important to avoid sin. But, it taught him that he would know these things just by having a personal relationship with God. As long as he kept that relationship he wouldn’t need to worry about sinning or behaving in the right way, because God would lead him. It emphasized the importance of feeling and experiencing God, that worshiping God was simply an experience and response to that experience and there was no one way to do it.
Both brothers grew up and were very successful in the business world, acquiring reasonable amounts of wealth and comfort. The first brother continued to attend church weekly, to tithe his income, to do his bible study and devotions, as well as his morning and evening prayers. He continued to stay away from temptations to do anything that he had been told was a sin and did not associate with anyone who was known to commit those sins.
The second brother continued to pray whenever he felt he should, to read the bible whenever he was in need of guidance and to go to church whenever he thought he needed to or was hurting. As the years wore on he prayed a little less, studied the bible a little bit less and became very irregular in church attendance. But he still tried to have a relationship with God and continued to trust that God was guiding his life. He did God on his own time and in his own way and to him that meant that he had a true relationship with God.
Which of these two better lived out the instructions to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God? Let those who have ears hear.