Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Witnessing Life of the Laity
V12 ”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.”
The Book of Amos is the third book in the collection of the so-called Twelve Minor Prophets. The introductory title to the book provides a wealth of information about the prophet’s name, his professional occupation, his home, and the time of his prophetic activity. Prophet Amos lived among a group of shepherds in Tekoa, a small town approximately ten miles south of Jerusalem. Amos made clear in his writings that he did not come from a family of prophets, nor did he even consider himself one. Rather, he was “a grower of sycamore figs” as well as a shepherd (Amos7:14-15). Amos’s connection to the simple life of the people made its way into the center of his prophecies, as he showed a heart for the oppressed and the voiceless in the world.
With the people of Israel in the north enjoying an almost unparalleled time of success, God decided to call a quiet shepherd and farmer to travel from his home in the less sinful south and carry a message of judgment to the Israelites. The people in the north used Amos’s status as a foreigner as an excuse to ignore his message of judgment for a multiplicity of sins. Though he came from the southern kingdom of Judah, Amos delivered his prophecy against the northern kingdom of Israel and the surrounding nations, leading to some resistance from the prideful Israelites (Amos 7:12). Jeroboam’s reign had been quite profitable for the northern kingdom, at least in a material sense. However, while their outer lives gleamed with the rays of success, their inner lives sank into a pit of moral decay. They were selling off needy people for goods, taking advantage of the helpless, oppressing the poor, and the men were using women immorally. Rather than seeking out opportunities to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly, they embraced their arrogance, idolatry, self-righteousness, and materialism. Amos communicated God’s utter disdain for the hypocritical lives of His people (Amos 5:21-24).
Injustice pervades our world, yet as Christians we often turn a blind eye to the suffering of others for “more important” work like praying, preaching, and teaching. But the book of Amos reminds us that those works, while unquestionably central to a believer’s life, ring hollow when we don’t love and serve others in our own lives. As laity the prophecy of Amos should help us make a choice in our lives. Instead of choosing between prayer and service, the book of Amos teaches us that both are essential. God has called Christians not only to be in relationship with Him but also to be in relationships with others. For those Christians whose tendency has been to focus more on the invisible God than on His visible creation, Amos pulls us back toward the center, where both the physical and the spiritual needs of people matter in God’s scheme of justice.
Forgive us O Lord, for embracing arrogance, idolatry, self-righteousness, and materialism rather than seeking opportunities to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in the Your sight.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
As a witnessing community God expects purity of all. The years we live in this world is not important but how we live is important.
GOLDA MANOJ W/O Rev. Manoj Idiculla
Sinai Mar Thoma Center, New York
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church