Friday, September 23, 2011

What we See-What we Convey

Thoughts from Amos (The Message Paraphrase)-the "what we see" part:
Chapter 5:
"Justice is a lost cause. Evil is epidemic.  Decent people throw up their hands.  Protest and rebuke are useless, a waste of breath.  Seek good and not evil-and live!  You talk about God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, being your best friend.  Well, live like it, and maybe it will happen.  Hate evil and love good, then work it out in the public square."
"...I can't stand your religious meetings.  I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.  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.  I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.  When was the last time you sang to me?  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." 
Chapter 6:
"Woe to those who live in luxury and expect everyone else to serve them!  Woe to those who live only for today, indifferent to the fate of others!  Woe to the playboys, the playgirls, who think life is a party held just for them!  Woe to those addicted to feeling good-life without pain!  Those obsessed with looking good-life without wrinkles!  They could not care less about their country going to ruin." 
Is it just me or does this sound an awful lot like what we see around us today?  Amos may have brought the message (rather reluctantly) but he was obedient-he said what had to be said.  But he also ended on a hopeful note.  There would be shaking and sifting but a faithful remnant would remain.  And that remnant would rebuild because God would bless them.  

I'm still reading in the Book of Acts and today I read about Paul and Barnabas in Antioch (chapter 13). They were invited to speak twice.  The second time some of the Jews became jealous because of the crowds and they contradicted what Paul was saying.  Long story short, this is the point where Paul told the Jews that they had rejected the message so now they would be going to preach to the Gentiles siting Isaiah 49:6 as the justification for doing so.  It goes on to say that when they Gentiles heard this "they were glad and praised the word of the Lord..."  The message that was conveyed?  There was hope for them too!  They could accept that Jesus was the Savior and they too could be saved.  They could be included as well!  I got thinking about this:  what would it feel like to be an outsider, wanting to be a part of this but being told that you couldn't be included because you didn't have the right qualifications.  What would it feel like to have someone come along and suddenly say "oh that's nonsense, you can be included too!"  Is the church today willing to convey that message-hope.  Or will we stand by and look at what we see and say "this is simply how it is."  What message are we willing to convey?  How far are we willing to go?

If Amos, even in the midst of delivering a very painful message, could still hold out a message of hope, shouldn't we be doing the same?  The message is not pleasant-we all need to repent.  But there is hope!  Jesus is Savior and he is available to all who are willing to believe.  No qualifications necessary other then a believing heart and a willingness to repent our old ways and follow a new way.  That message should be first and foremost today!  Our world needs it desperately!

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