Caring about what God Cares about in Amos 4-5

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This pastoral passage was written for LRBC for August 14, 2022, and was drawn from a sermon from the week before.

I spoke last week on the theme of what God cares about in Amos 4:1-5:17. There were two things. One was that the Lord expects his people to worship him alone and pay attention to what he says. The second was to care about those in who need extra help to get by in life. In Amos’s time what he saw instead was a self-indulgent people who practised self-interested religion. It is important to remember that God wants us to take both seriously – he does not want churches who are preoccupied with themselves, nor does he want Christianity reduced to religiously-motivated social work.

We can see the two concerns connected in Proverbs 14:31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. Do we insult God if we neglect the poor? Or only if we oppress them? Perhaps we need to think about the issue differently. We could feel pleased that we are not bad like the bad people that Amos preached to. But I don’t think looking at bad examples is what we are called to do. Rather we should look to God and consider whether we reflect his character and care about what he cares about.

Sometimes being jaded in our faith can make it hard to care about what God cares about. We don’t retain the wonder (if we ever had it) of the magnitude of grace – what it cost Jesus, what it bought us, and how much he has gifted to us. Or we feel too busy with life or too overwhelmed by the size of the world’s problems. We need to be formed by an understanding of verses like 2nd Corinthians 8:9 if we are to live as Jesus asks us: …You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. Jesus asks us to be his disciples and follow him in light of who he is and what he has done for us. He doesn’t ask us to accomplish everything we might think we could do.

Perhaps it is better to think about finding a way to do something we ourselves can do (alone or together) in the place and time that God has put us, with the means and opportunities he has given us, and with the interests and skills he has kindled in us.

What can we do to care about what God cares about with our hands and feet?