You know you’re gonna have to face it…you’re addicted to love…
Your lights are on, but you’re not home
Your mind is not your own
Your heart sweats, your body shakes
Another kiss is what it takes
You can’t sleep, you can’t eat
There’s no doubt, you’re in deep
Your throat is tight, you can’t breathe
Another kiss is all you need
It is pretty clear that Robert Palmer was singing about love as a physical desire, but surely, as addictions go being addicted to love is not a bad thing. In the passage under consideration this week we hear that marvelous Hebrew work, hesed, which is often translated in this verse simply as kindness. Other places it is translated lovingkindness, or steadfast love. At the heart of the meaning of this word is a faithfulness to a covenant of love. Yes, hesed, is an addiction to love.
When the people get called out by God for not keeping the covenant, Micah records that they try to buy their way back in to God’s good graces with expensive track lighting, upgrading the sound system, and stadium seating. OK, so it was a thousand rams and ten thousand rivers of oil, but the concept is the same: give it to God, but not in a way that helps your neighbor in need. God ignores their (sarcastic?) exaggeration, and reminds them of the simplicity of the covenant: execute justice and keep the covenant in faithful acts of caring…oh, and do it with some humility.
Others have pointed out the common twisting of this verse in our practice in that we tend more to love justice and do mercy. It is easy to long for justice, bemoaning our ability to bring about change while soothing our consciences with random acts of kindness. That may be a step in the journey of walking with God, but it betrays a lack of humility. The word humility comes from the word for soil, or the earth, humus. Because the second Creation story speaks of people being made from the earth, we share that root in the name human. Humility then means that we are of the earth and owe our allegiance only to that which is above the earth. To walk humbly with God requires us to stop serving our own addiction to misplaced love of self. We can’t simply do mercy in order to make ourselves feel better. We need to have the patience of a long distance walker, trusting that God is leading us to a place where true, restorative justice reigns. We must mark our steps by faithfully keeping the covenant by serving our neighbor (even loving our enemy!). It is only when we are addicted to hesed that we will find the patience to keep up the humble walk with God to the Promised Land of justice.
Rev. Ian Lynch is pastor of Old South UCC in Kirtland, Ohio, where Darkwood Brew is used as a tool for ministry as church beyond walls. He has a YouTube channel called Bible Bytes, short video commentaries on the scripture lesson for the week.