Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
The last few weeks have brought regular earnings reports from companies following the end of the accounting quarter. Many of the statements trumpeted positive profits. For those monitoring the broader scope of the nation’s economy those profits indicate the economy’s strength. Profit is good. Unfortunately in the drive for gain, some businesspeople skirt, stretch, bend, and break the rules. Such dishonest profits are not good. There is nothing unchristian about being successful in business; however, practices driven by greed, as we see in today’s passages, not only threaten the broader economy as we have experienced over the recent years, they violate God’s commandment.
The passage in Amos described the collapse of the nation’s economy due to greedy business practices that targeted poor and needy. They stole from the most vulnerable by manipulating currency and measurement systems. Amos’s vision of the basket of summer fruit reflected the end of the productive season for the trees and symbolized the end of a productive season for the Israeli economy. God’s judgment disrupted the normal natural order turning day to night, celebrations to sadness, and wealth to poverty. Amos even offered a new order of famine: the absence of God and holy instruction. This famine assured dire consequences for a nation that lost its spiritual compass. The Psalm passages reinforce the prophet’s message.
Amos’s Israel lost their connection to God. Genesis, Colossians, and Luke remind us that our relationship with God is direct and personal. Abraham prepared a meal for God (Genesis); Jesus sat and taught in small groups with people in the community (Luke); Jesus became a human embodiment of God to provide a way to reconcile God and humanity. Encounters with God throughout the Bible demonstrate the personal nature of God’s relationship with his creation. Every encounter with God, addressed a need of the person(s) involved.
Nothing has changed: our relationship with God remains personal. The personal nature of our relationship with God dictates that our actions outside our place of worship reflect God’s expectations of behavior. Amos gives us the example from business of ways disobedience to God’s way leads to a break from the personal relationship, but the rules apply to all aspects of our lives.
In the context of a prophet foretelling the fall of the nation, living according to God’s standards seems restrictive, but when we look at the wholeness of the scripture we find just the opposite. Wealth and fame in this life last only as long as this life. Permanent riches found through God only come with maintenance of a personal relationship. Gaining such security, is anything but restrictive; it liberates. God really does look out for the needs of each of us.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org