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Posts Tagged ‘god’

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(in 2006 i did a documentary about homelessness in Nashville, TN…in the two years since that time i have often walked a road parallel to those we documented.  it has been a walk of faith)

 

I woke up this morning thinking about the prophet Amos. I had found a statement yesterday when I was doing some research on homelessness for a book I am working on at a fellow bloggers site that said,

 

The Prophet Amos Spoke up on Behalf of the Poor Nearly 3,000 Years Ago (800 BCE)  Amos warned the people their disregard for the poor was a bad idea. It would result in the destruction of their nation. Apparently there’s a long history of God trying to get our attention in this regard. Approximately 830 years later, a lawyer asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”  He hears the parable of the good Samaritan.

I headed for Panera this morning, with laptop in hand and logged on before I even took that first sip of coffee to find out just who Amos was. I knew he was a prophet and the book of Amos was in the old testament, but that was about it. First off I learned that most scholars date his prophetic work somewhere between 760 and 755 BC.  More importantingly I learned…we are still repeating the same mistakes from centuries ago … and we have the teachings of Christ.

Amos was a common man chosen by the Lord to deliver His Word to His people. “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet … but the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.’ And now hear the Word of the Lord!” (Amos 7:14-16).  A common man…a divine nobody as my new friend, Jim would say. (http://divinenobodies.com)

Al Maxey’s commentary about Amos states, “He was not a man of wealth, yet was sent to warn the wealthy; not a man of luxury, or one who was lazy, yet sent to those who were both. All of this was designed to separate the MAN from the MESSAGE. There was to be nothing about this man which would attract a personal following.

 

It was the message God desired the people to focus upon… not the messenger!

It is still the message God desires us to focus on!

 

The people were religious, but they were far from being spiritual. Their religion consisted of external acts — they were putting on a show for God, but He was not fooled. “They prided themselves in their expensive ‘church buildings.’ They boasted of the numerous sacrifices which they offered, and of the fact that they offered them exactly as the Law prescribed (‘legalism’). They gloried in their perfect attendance record at the worship services. They were well pleased with their efforts to sing praises to the Lord. But, by way of contrast, Amos rejected the idea that quantity, numbers, and external show was really religion!” (Willis). Some have criticized Amos for being a preacher of a “social gospel.”

 

However, “God made it clear that the heart of religion was to love God with all the heart, and to love one’s neighbor as himself. Without these two elements, any number of external acts are meaningless to God” (Willis).

 

“The prophets had degenerated into time-servers, blinded with the complacency of the nation. Religion certainly flourished in the nation but it was a religion that was completely divorced from reality. There was a great deal of activism and outward show with crowds thronging the shrines at the times of the great festivals. Ritual was elaborate, but there was no true life and no evidence that real spiritual values had any place, and Yahweh was patronized with a presumption bordering upon arrogance”

Extravagant religious ceremonies and rites were manifested on every hand. Tithes were offered every three days; free-will offerings were abundant and the amounts advertised (Amos 4:4-5). Religious fervor was high, but true spiritual devotion to God was utterly lacking” (Homer Hailey). “It was a religion which was empty in content, though full of ritual. Amos insisted that God had no time for ritualistic religion without heart”

-New Layman’s Bible Commentary

 

 

Fast forward to 2008…the century of mega churches, sermons laced with scripture that tickles the ear and pleases the masses. Is God even there? Does anyone truly hear the voice of God? We have seen throughout the Bible, God called the common man …is it because the common man’s life is less cluttered with material things that he is more prone to bend his ear and heart to God and then carry out our Father’s bidding? Is it because the common man can more easily empathize with the pain of his brother because at one time he himself bore that same pain?

Have we become a nation of religion void the personal relationship? Have we packaged our belief in God  into a neat little stained glass box and have become blind to the ones that sleep in the shadows of the steeples?  What can be said of our relationship with God, with Jesus (who carried all of our sin and pain), with our family, friends, neighbors and strangers? If we are to say we are Christians, then we must adhere to the teachings of Christ and look back at the prophetic warnings of the old prophets and take heed. Do you love the Lord with all your heart? Do you love your neighbor as yourself?

Do you even know your neighbor’s name?

 

 

 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: (the parable starts here) “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn in Jericho and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

 

Gospel of Luke, chapter 10 verses 25–37   New International Version

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