Micah 6:8 “He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
This is a very familiar verse to most of us, with the prophet Micah telling the people of Israel, and us, that justice and mercy are at the core of being people of God. However, like many important things in life and faith, this is more easily said than done. What does it mean to do justice in our very complex and conflict-filled world?
I have spent much of this week participating in a virtual conference that I believe did a very good job of addressing this question, and giving us in 21st Century America one very good set of models for this important work. The conference was sponsored by the Opportunity Finance Network, and was titled “Finance Justice”. OFN is an association of more than 750 community loan funds, or Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) around the country. This is a network where I do much of my work as an executive search consultant, finding key executives for these nonprofit financial institutions whose core business is making loans for affordable housing, small businesses and community facilities like day care centers and health centers in communities that most banks find too high risk to lend in. You can learn more about this remarkable network at www.ofn.org.
The presentations were inspiring, but the most inspiring thing is the commitment of the members to do justice in their communities. One of the biggest challenges in our society is achieving economic justice and finding ways to include those people and communities that have not been able to fully participate in the bounty of our country. The amazing thing is that they have found ways to be successful at this work, and are able to make loans that are consistently repaid by people and organizations who are often turned down by banks. In this time of pandemic, they have been one of the primary channels that government agencies have used to connect with the minority and women owned businesses that have been hit especially hard.
This work by CDFIs has consistently secured bipartisan support from Congress for its work, and is increasingly securing investments from such corporate giants as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Google. It warmed my heart to see such an active and committed, if still not widely known, group of people and organizations who are doing their best to “do justice” in what I usually think of as the cold world lf finance.
Thank you Lord, for letting us know what you require of us. And thank you for providing encouragement in the form of others who are working effectively to do justice and love mercy, and serving “the least of these” in our midst. Help us to recognize and support those who are doing your work, even when it is not always explicitly in your name. Amen.