What we do for God is important and God appreciates it and takes it seriously. However, unless we are treating our fellow humans with fairness, kindness, and generosity, God doesn’t have any use for our tithes and offerings.
Karl Barth’s sermon from July 26, 1914 (just days after Austria-Hungary’s ultimatum to Serbia and just days before World War I finally erupted), is a reflection on the seeming incongruence of Ephesians 2:4-7 – and especially the idea that God has set us in the heavenly realm with Jesus – with the fearful turbulence of the times.
The Israelites were longing for the Day of the Lord, thinking that it would be a day of blessing for them. Amos, however, says it won’t be what you think it will be, and you won’t be on the side of it that you think you will be.
In John 20:24-28, the resurrected Jesus shows the scars of his crucifixion to his disciple Thomas, meaning the resurrected body of Jesus has scars. What does this tell us about scars, about what it means to follow Jesus, about the identity of Jesus, and about the nature of God?
As we become aware of just how sinful we really are, the voice of condemnation may spin this awareness as a sign that we are not truly saved. But as painful as this awareness is, it is actually part of the process of sanctification and evidence of the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives, the reproof of a loving Father. It is important that we realize that though sometimes our salvation is a painful one, it is a good kind of pain.
Amos calls on Israel to repent so that God will be with them to protect and prosper them the way they think he is. Because no matter how far we have fallen, we can always know that God will be merciful when no one else would be.
In Amos 5:10-13, we see a corrupt society where the wealthy elite maintain their wealth and power by dishonestly fixing the system in their favor. A just judge is despised. God’s punishment is appropriate: whatever you use your wealth to build will be taken from you before you can enjoy it.
God alone created the stars, so why would we consult the stars about our destinies when we can consult God? God alone gives us rain and provides for our needs, so why would we seek out another god to provide for us or, worse, to push God out of the picture altogether?
The question Amos 5:1-7 poses to us today is this: where are we seeking our security? Are we, like Israel, confusing human institutions for the activity of God in the world? Are we conflating the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the earth?
Why does this belief persist that we are not experiencing the full benefits of the Kingdom of God? It persists not based on the Bible and not based on experience but merely on the strength of assumptions that shape our perception of what the Bible says and of our experiences in false contrast.