Saturday, February 11, 2012

Amos: Mere religion is deadly

These biting words of Amos 5:18-27 are consciousness-raising. It is so incredibly easy to spend our precious time dawdling on things that do not matter to God. Talk about having a blind spot! Amos would not let the people of his day comfortably gather in their solemn assemblies while the powerful and rich press the poor and weak into the ground.

What happens inside of you when you hear God say: "I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen."

That's right. All the religious religious activities that we so easily fight over might just elicit a yawn from God. As long as justice is denied or ignored and religious activities take priority, God will say, "Stop!"

"Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream."

When we read Amos' words we should press the pause button we call ministry and ask ourselves questions:

Why are we here?
Who are we called to serve?
Are we pleasing God or are we pleasing ourselves?
What has God given us that must now be used to change the world for even one person?

If we don't, then our religious activities might really be more about us and peripherally about God. How does a Christian, or a church engage in this kind of honest soul-searching? How do we assess life and ministry in accordance with Amos' challenge? That's the question for all of us.