Now in times past, Prophets did two things. They brought a word of warning. Their message was simple-repent or turn back otherwise, you're heading down a slippery slope. They also brought a word of hope. Usually they were ignored. Sometimes they had to run for the lives. And once in awhile someone actually listened to them like Jonah when he went to Nineveh. The point being, there was always a word of warning before catastrophe struck and the listener could choose to heed the warning or go on their merry way living only for today.
Let me just say that I'm not predicting gloom and doom. I take these modern day end time "prophets" with a grain of salt because A) the Bible clearly states that only God knows when the end will be and B) their message brings about fear rather than hope. And lets face it, the end for any human can come at any time without warning. Car accidents can't be predicted. Earthquakes can not be predicted. Our short span on this little rock in the universe is fraught with danger every day, so you might just as well do the very best you can and not worry about what is to come!
Does that sound contradictory to my blog title? On the surface, maybe. You have to delve a little deeper though to get the full gist of what Amos was saying. The people he was talking about were only concerned with themselves. They were driven by a "what's in it for me, what do I get out of this" mentality. So what if you have to sell me every last thing you own and live on the street, too bad, so sad, oh well. They based their worth on what they had accumulated. They took keeping up with the Jones to the extreme! And if there was a little bribery involved; a wink and a secret handshake well, that was just the way of the world cause it's dog eat dog out there. Oh and let's not forget their public worship-look at me, look how pious I am! Look at how generous I am-take a picture of my hugging a poor child that I just handed a toy to! Isn't it wonderful that I am all that and a bag of chips! They were living for today with a self absorbed ambition and obsession without regard to how it impacted those around them. Sound familiar?
Yes, I see that going on today. But I also see a great awakening which gives me hope! There's an old hymn called Simple Gifts that says :
"tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free, tis a gift to come round where you ought to be, and when you find the gift in the place just right, it will be in the valley of love and delight. When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed, to turn, turn will be our delight and by turning turning we come round right."It's a silent, quiet, growing movement. I see it with our young people who want to volunteer in order to help others. I see it with the "slow food revolution" where people buy locally, grow their own garden produce, cook at home, share meals with friends and family. I see it in communities that offer music in the park or family movie nights. I see it with companies that sign on with the "Doing Virtuous Business" project. I even see it in churches that open up their building to community groups to use and come up with creative ways to help out in the community. Being self absorbed is not the cool thing to do any more! It might make interesting and tragic reality television but that's about the extent of it! Being of service to others is the wave of the future.
There is a "turning" that is beginning to happen because people realize that there is far more to life than just "things". There is a longing to be a part of something bigger than ourselves! When we simplify our lives, when we stop striving for things that we don't really need we experience freedom and creativity because we're not weighed down by stuff! We gain the gift of time and the capacity to give. We are freed to do things that really matter the most to us. Balance is slowly but surely being restored.
I have great hope because I see that there are individual who understand that living for today means so much more than how we have defined it over the last few years! Thank you God for carefully timed warnings that bring us "where we ought to be!"