Good news for the common man

 Sheep watching

Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. For this is what Amos is saying:

“‘Jeroboam will die by the sword,
    and Israel will surely go into exile,
    away from their native land.’”

Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.”

Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

Israel basically told Amos to get outta dodge. To go back where he came from and continue herding sheep and growing fig trees. They were bloated on their power, in love with their wealth and comforts,  and they were talking advantage of the poor and needy. That never sits very well with God.

At first Amos held the spotlight on Israel’s neighbors and that was all good with them. But when Amos started listing all their sins on the town marquee it got ugly. They wanted him out of there.

I like the fact that God roots for the underdogs of the world. It is easy to convince myself that I am one. But the lessons of the Israelites can be equally applied to me. And it stings. In reading these Chapters I need to ask myself the hard questions.

Am I getting complacent? Am I quick to point fingers of blame at someone else, when I need to be looking inwardly at myself? Am I getting lazy? Am I putting myself above others when I don’t reach out because it’s too uncomfortable?

Amos reminds me that though God loves the underdog, the common working class, he also loves the people drunk on their own self-importance who don’t think they need him at all. He loves them enough to warn them. 

I remember all the times in my life when he gave me second and third chances. I am bowled over by his compassion, by his mercy that never seems to run dry.

There are so many things in this life that scream for justice, and it seems to be getting worse. It’s so easy for me to jump up and down and scream, “Yeah God, get them, get them!” 

Get those people who are doing unspeakable things to children.

Get the those politicians in Washington who couldn’t care less about us hard-working folks, who have their pensions and their pockets stuffed with bribes.

Get the addicted mother who has 6 kids she doesn’t even care about running wild raising themselves, while she sits on the couch sucking on cigarettes as well as the system. (I know this to be true)

But God never told me to be concerned with them, but with my own heart.

I am thinking of a scene, that breakfast meeting on the beach where Jesus met the disciples after his resurrection.  Peter asked him a question concerning John. I love what Jesus says, and I can imagine him saying it with a measure of remonstration in his voice and love radiating out of his eyes at the same time.

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

Yes, Lord. I get it. Point taken.

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