The famine of the Gospel

I have an internal conflict at the moment. It resurfaces from time to time and today I'm going to blog my mental somersaults.

Recently in Disciple III we read Amos. Have you read it lately? Its a great book and Amos is an amazing prophet. Two Scriptures stand out in my mind. From chapter 8....

11 "The days are coming," declares the Sovereign LORD,
"when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.

12 Men will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the LORD,
but they will not find it.

The idea of the whole book of Amos is that Israel is sitting pretty...ivory houses, bowls of wine. They have the good life. They THINK they are blessed by God but in truth they've traded their blessings for curses and curses for blessings. God has cut off the words of life. It isn't because God doesn't love us or wants the best for us - its because we have traded the words of God for a lie. We've forgotten what God sounds like. If we heard him would be be attentive? What if God asked us for something difficult or for something we didn't want?

Which is the next Scripture from Amos that stuck...from chapter 5...

21 "I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
I cannot stand your assemblies.

22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, [b]
I will have no regard for them.

23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.

24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Yikes. Its my job to plan religious festivals. Its what I do for a living - help people offer God their first fruits. But God doesn't want us to try and buy him off. God wants justice. Righteousness. God was angry the Israelites were doing rote, hollow shows of religiosity while trampling the poor and exploiting the system.

The question isn't whether I go to church every Sunday, the question is whether I support getting people there through my actions.

The question isn't whether I'm handing out food to the poor in Birmingham, the question is whether my lifestyle got them there or allows them to be there.

My hope and prayer is that God will speak to us again. He'll bring a fresh word. And when it comes we won't turn away. I hope like Nineveh in the days of Jonah we'll put on sackcloth and ashes and pray God's forgiveness for the sad state of our world.