Live In Concert

When I think of a concert, I think of a set of songs that sound worse than the studio version.

I have a friend who went to a Don McLean concert where all he did was sing "American Pie", leave for a half-hour, then come back and sing it again, twice, and then call it quits...*

Another (older) friend of mine saw David Crosby in concert where he showed up a half-hour late, sang a couple of songs, then left. As an aside—an anecdote—I actually saw David Crosby in person one day but was unable to meet him. I was able, however to meet and talk with Graham Nash. (They were in town for a concert.)*

*Concert performances don't actually reflect the character and personality of the artists, themselves. Who knows what they had been through on the tour leading up to the night of the show? I know you paid for the tickets, but as with most things, it's a safe bet to believe the best and move on. And listen to the original versions...

All this aside, my favorite Crosby, Stills and Nash song is "Southern Cross". I don't mind "American Pie", but at eight minutes long, I'm inclined to change the station.

If you thought I was here to talk about concerts and live performances, then it's time to move on and talk about something else: living in concert.

There are several verses in the Bible that encapsulate life. It's refreshing to come upon them as they make our journey through God's word a little more manageable and—I think after reading—easier. Easier to wrap our mind around the greater themes found throughout the rest of the Bible. And as God prizes simplicity and (I believe) rejects confusing complexity, these verses are enough to frame our entire lives upon.

One such verse is Micah 6:8, which says: "He hath shewed thee, O man (and woman), what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (emphasis mine) Walking with God...

Before we go any further, I think the concept of keeping in step with God—when we realize what it's gonna take from us—can cause us to wilt from exhaustion without even having opened the door. Like a song that sounds better, recorded in the relative peace and quiet of the studio and not lived out in real life. While the analogy may be true on one side, I can assure you that living in concert with God is much more fun in person than simply reading (or hearing) about it in a book. Whichever book that may be...

Taking this verse apart line by line, the first part says "He hath shewed thee, O man what is good...". Can I just stop right there and say that Jesus is the one who has showed us? "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God" (Luke 18:19) If there's one person who walked the walk and lived out their life as the ultimate template after which we are supposed to model our lives, it's Jesus. "Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself." (Ephesians 1:9) He is the "express image of His (God's) person..." (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is more than the "Avatar" of God the Father, as Krishna is the Avatar of Brahma (from Hindu). Jesus is God. As much God as is the Father. A great mystery... "He hath shewed thee, O man what is good".

The second part is: "and what doth the Lord require of thee, but...". I add the word "but" to part two so as to allay any overwhelming notions that might cause us to think that God "requires" more of us than is humanly possible. In reality, what God requires is indeed more than humanly possible. Millenia of sacrificial practice wasn't enough to make up for the original sin ("to obey is better than sacrifice" 1 Samuel 15:22). When we leave off seeing Jesus as, not only our template, but also as "the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:30), then we'll think it's up to us to perform in such a way as to please the impossibly exacting God of all time, space and eternity. Where only someone who was sinless (i.e. Jesus) could do something like that—perfectly. And thank God He did. No, seriously. When was the last time you (or I) thanked Jesus for His record of perfect obedience that He gives to us as a gift? Like an afterthought, almost. Jesus summed it up best when He said "only believe" (Mark 5:36). Believing is lived out in parts three, through five.

"To do justly" Simply put: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matthew 7:12) Hard as we can try, we never get beyond the simple wisdom of "doing unto others". (more on that in the future)

"To love mercy" Why would God ask us to "love mercy"? I think because He knows we're going to need it. Anytime we slip up and make a mistake, anything on the positive side, anything that helps us get back up is God's mercy—some aspect of it. And He shows us in the verse from Micah how to respond to His extravagant mercy. To love it. And in turn love Him. "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:23, emphasis mine)

The last part of Micah 6:8 is the capstone to our "life in concert": "And to walk humbly with Thy God." The keyword there—while there are many good ones—that I would like to emphasize is humbly.

When Peter (1 Peter 5:5) says that "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble", what He's really saying, is that God has to walk on if we choose to lead the way. Peter's next verse says to "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." (emphasis mine) Should God choose to elevate you onto the world's stage, make sure that you give the audience what they came for. And stay humble. Peter continues: "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." Share with God any care or concern you have—however minor they may seem—and His grace (from verse 5), His unmerited favor and ability, will keep you in concert with Him.

Rock on.

Four Word Progress part 4: Same Differences