Tag Archives: Amos

righteous indignation

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Sunday night I was angry. And truth be told I don’t get angry a lot. I think my wife may actually think there is something wrong with me…but Sunday night, oh man. You see, I had shared a video of a young black man and his white grandmother being pulled over because someone had “reportedly” told the cops that they thought this white woman was being robbed by this black man. And all I kept thinking about was, “This could be my son.” So I shared the video on social media and was astounded at the ensuing dialogue. Some of it was very supportive and resonated well with me, but some of it left me with a little holy anger, if you will. And it’s not even so much what they were arguing with me per se (I understand police procedure and I wasn’t faulting a police officer who could be correctly acting on misinformation), but just the fact that they were arguing for the fact that this is the way things are or how they are done now. You see, for a follower of Christ in this world, I don’t think this approach is acceptable.

Allow me to elaborate a bit. Time and time in scripture we are told about the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom. We hear about it with phrases like “The Day of the Lord” or “When the Son of Man returns” or “The Kingdom of God is at Hand”. And when the disciples ask Jesus how to pray He responds with, “Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done on Earth”. And the images of this in scripture are profound. “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” – Amos 5:25 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” – Isaiah 61:1 This is what the Kingdom coming looks like. Something new; something profound! Something that challenges “what is” for “what can be”. When we are content to accept the status quo or even pine for the way things used to be, we are submitting to the kingdoms of this world and refusing to see the world for what it can be. We are living out of fear instead of hope.

This isn’t a liberal or conservative issue, but it is a political issue. It’s a proclamation of the fact that we belong to a different kind of Kingdom. The apostle Paul puts it this way in Colossians 3, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things aboveHere there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” – Colossians 3:1,11 This different view of the world is the thing that Christians should always ascribe to and hope for. A world where bias and fear are left in the dust because after all, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” – 1 John 4:18

I remember when I held Jonas for the first time. I was worried about how he might be treated in the world. But I thought to myself, “It’s going to get better…it has to.” And yet today, I am angry. I am hurt. I am sad because the church continues to buy into the narrative of “it will all work out or this is just how things are.” Hear me O church. Christ Kingdom is at hand. We are called to live into this. And the day is now! I still believe it can get better. But church we must get to work alongside Christ building his kingdom here, now, today.

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hate

I’m tired. I’m really so tired. I’m tired of not having the right words for a world that is in such desperate need for hope. I’m tired of my friends and family trying to make sense of senseless violence. I’m tired of living in a world that seeks to give meaning to tragedy by labeling the victims or the oppressors with grandiose terms that simply go further to divide us. And I’m tired of the church responding in silence or worse yet responding with the same malevolence that leads to atrocities like that which just took place in Orlando…Orlando. A city that is usually synonymous with childhood excitement and imagination. The city of Mickey and the Magic Kingdom, Seaworld and Harry Potter and Universal Studios is now most closely associated with the worst mass shooting on US Soil of the 21st century. Orlando; a name that means ‘famous throughout the land’ has now become infamous for all the wrong reasons.

Many times when I am trying to make sense of hatred and violence and how the church is called to respond in our modern age, I look to the prophets of Israel. Prior to the birth of the church, the role the church was intended to play for the world (revealing God and his love for mankind) belonged to Israel. Unfortunately they at times did not understand how to fulfill that role either. And so the prophets resonate loudly in our world today. Hate is a word that I am not too fond of and yet one of the prophets uses it to help us make sense of the world in which we find ourselves in. Amos was a prophet called to critique the disconnect between hollow religious worship and societal injustice in Israel. Speaking the heart of God to those assembled he has this to say, ““I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” – Amos 5:21-24

When it comes to the word hate, it is not used for people groups or individuals, but rather for worship that is not connected to justice for the least of these. Israel had been oppressing those they deemed unworthy and therefore God looks down upon their worship with disgust…hatred. When we look to the prophetic voice to see that which God truly hates we see it is our hollow assemblies where we gather for worship but forget that our fellow man is made in the image of the same God that we gather to worship on a weekly basis. We have to stop labeling. We have to stop distancing people from us because they are not like us. We have to become active in sharing the love of Christ everywhere. In light of this most recent tragedy perhaps it is in giving blood or donating to the Red Cross or giving to a church in Orlando that is fulfilling the call to be light in the darkness. But we cannot allow our worship to be disconnected from compassionate action anymore. Our worship cannot be separate from God’s justice and righteousness anymore. We must find ourselves shining like light in the darkness and realizing that hate and fear and apathy are never the answer.


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