29 June 2017
Reading: Amos 4-6, Psalm 86; Titus 1
21 “I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. 22 I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. 23 I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? 24 Do you know what I want? I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want. (Amos 5:21-24 MSG)
Amos stood in the central square of Samaria, Israel’s capital, bony finger pointing, shouting his message, no one listening or taking him seriously. People who speak critically or correctively against a system – political, economic, or religious – are usually marginalized or labeled “traitor” if they attempt to speak from the inside, or mocked, then suppressed as a threat, if they speak from the outside.
How should we read the prophecies of Amos today? What’s the point? Is there a message for you and me in the rantings of old Amos the sheepherder?
Here’s how I see it. Paul said all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for me. Jesus said it’s a heart issue. So when I read through the Bible and come across old Amos pointing his bony finger at me and saying “Woe to you!”, here’s what I can do:
• First, I can examine my heart. I can say, “How’s my heart on these matters? Am I caught up in ritual and religion? Are my motives about me or about God and others?” And I can repent and say “Sorry, Father! Please help me do better!”
• Second, I can look at areas in which I lead or influence. I can say, “Am I influencing others toward purity of heart and motive or am I caught up in slogans and ideologies, public relations and success schemes?” And I can repent and say, “Sorry, Father! Please help me do better!”
• Third, I can look at my network of relationships, my community, my church, my nation. I can pray for God’s mercy and patience. I can pray for awakening and awareness. I can pray for God to pour out his Spirit in a fresh move of redemption and revival. I can say, “Sorry Father, please help us do better!”
Father, I open my heart to The Message of your Word. Let Amos and Joel and Jesus and Paul and all the others I meet each year as I travel through the Bible speak a word in season to the season of my life. I commit to listen, to learn, and to obey. Amen.