Apr 18 2010

A Call for Justice

BBF 4419This morning I preached a message from Amos chapter 5.  In this passage God comes down hard on the people of Israel and indicates that He is about to wipe them out.  Amos reveals the reason for God’s anger.  The people had turned “justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground.”  After identifying a number of ways that Israel had failed to practice justice and righteousness God declared, “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.”

Thirty years ago I had the privilege of studying in Israel for a month.  The Middle East is an arid region; there are few flowing rivers in Israel.  Following rainstorms, however, water rushes down streambeds that are normally dry.  These streambeds are called wadis.  What God seems to be saying through Amos here is “Listen, justice and righteousness must be more than wadis that flow only on certain occasions, slow to a trickle at other times, and often dry up completely.  Justice and righteousness are to be like rolling, surging streams of water that flow continuously.”

God’s message to the ancient Israelites is intended for us today too.  Unfortunately there is still much injustice in the world and a shortage of righteousness.  In addition to racial , social and economic injustice, there is a great deal of environmental injustice.  The earth, which Psalm 24:1 tells us belongs to the Lord, is often abused.  Many of the creatures God made, likewise, suffer at our hands.  The polluting of the air and water might also be seen as examples of environmental injustice.  I cannot help but believe that these are things that upset God.  The earth is His Creation and He loves it dearly.  How it must hurt Him to see the way many of us have treated His handiwork! 

This week we will once again observe Earth Day.  I’m glad we will have many reminders in the days to come about how important it is to care for the earth but as Christians we shouldn’t need these reminders.  The Bible is full of passages that call for us to practice environmental stewardship and justice.  Loving and caring for the earth is part of what it means to be a Christian.  But some of us need reminders nonetheless and if we don’t pay heed to them I fear that we, like Israel before us, will experience devastation.  We, too, will reap what we sow.  I hope you’ll think about that the next time you see a flowing body of water.  That’s what I did when I photographed the image above at Bad Branch Falls this past Friday.


Jun 10 2009

Let Justice Roll Down Like Water…


George Washington Carver once said, “Nature is an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour—if we will only tune in.”  By now you know that I agree with Carver.  If we will slow down and listen carefully, God has much to say to us in His creation.  Many of the things we hear will be comforting or encouraging words, but at times the message may be challenging.

A few weeks ago I made a day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with my friend Bill Fortney.  Bill wanted to go to the Tremont area so we could photograph the beautiful Middle Prong cascades.  As you can see from the picture, this is a lovely and inspiring location. 

When I am in places like this there is a passage from the prophet Amos that invariably comes to my mind.  Amos says, “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.”  Roaring rivers and streams cause me to remember that there is much injustice in the world today.  There is racial injustice, economic injustice, environmental injustice, social injustice and a host of other injustices.  Countless people suffer today because justice and righteousness are all too often lacking.

A few verses after Amos made his familiar admonition he declared, “Woe to you who are complacent…”  Although these words were spoken over twenty-five hundred years ago I believe that it is, in fact, complacency that remains a major contributor to the many injustices in the world.    I know I am guilty of being complacent far more  often than I should be.  For this reason I remain thankful for God’s “unlimited broadcasting station” of nature and how it reminds me time and time again of His desire to see “justice roll on like a river” and “righteousness like a never-failing stream.”  Now it’s up to folks like you and me to see that it happens!

–Chuck Summers