When I took up a pre-medical course in a Protestant [or evangelical] school, Silliman University, in Dumaguete City, Province of Negros Oriental on Negros Island in the Visayas Region, in the late 1950s, I was required to enroll in several religion classes. One subject of such a class was a survey of the Old Testament.
One particular OT verse that stood out for me was that from the book of the prophet Micah (6:8, NKJV): “He [God] has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to have mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
The small word “but” implies that God requires just one thing or a series of connected things that a man is to fulfill, in order to do what is good. This was a bit of a shock to me, because – growing up in a staunch Protestant home [See: http://www.pool-of-siloam.com/about-the-author] — I had assumed that one only needed to believe in Jesus in order to be saved (John 3:16). Later I learned about the teachings of the protestant movement’s founder, Martin Luther, on salvation by grace through faith alone – not through works (Ephesians 2:8). This is the banner which many evangelical groups carry when preaching the “gospel” to all the world. One particularly active such group is “Evangelism Explosion [or EE; see: https://evangelismexplosion.org/about-us/.]
Through time, however, it seems that some evangelical groups, such as the church I and my siblings grew up in, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines [UCCP], have intertwined these two divine “mandates” and have come up with a “social gospel.” They believe that they should follow their Lord Jesus’ example of not only preaching the gospel but also doing good by helping the poor, healing the sick, raising the dead, liberating those oppressed by demons, etc. Thus, the UCCP promotes active participation in labor movements, charities, mission hospitals, relief efforts during calamities, etc. My elder brother, a labor union lawyer, spent himself defending the rights of laborers. My elder sister, a public health nurse, was at the forefront in seeking the welfare of health workers. As the delegate for the medical sector to the 1987 Philippine Constitutional Convention, she made sure that the constitution made provisions for their benefit. My father, the first lawyer of his indigenous tribe, the Bukidnons, spent most of his years and energies defending the rights of his fellow-tribesmen to their ancestral lands, which “Christian” settlers were trying to take away from them.
Amos 5:23-24 shows that true worship requires justice and righteousness. Isaiah 58:6-10 teaches that true humility requires one to “loose the bonds of wickedness, undo heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, break every yoke, share one’s bread with the hungry, offer one’s house to the poor, cover the naked, take care of one’s family,” etc.
Jesus taught a similar thing, in Luke 3:10-14 and Matthew 25:31-45. The apostle Paul, under Christ’s inspiration, taught that “…as we have [the] opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith [fellow-Christians]” (Galatians 6:10).
Micah 6:8 speaks volumes of our main Christian duty: to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. In fulfilling this one requirement, we will also be able to comprehend and practice The Four Dimensions of Christ’s Love.
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.