“Pursue good and not evil so that you may live, and the Lord, the God of Armies, will be with you as you have claimed.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
One of my favorite things to do growing up was read the newspaper comics. The top of my list were always Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side. I even purchased the complete boxed set of each of them when they became available. Once they retired, though, I had to move on to others. On my second tier, Non Sequitur was always one of my favorites. Let me explain what this has to do with what Amos is saying here.
Do you know what a non sequitur is? It is a logical term for a conclusion that does not follow from the premises given. There are all kinds of ways this can happen, but they are often used for humor. Consider the following: It’s supposed to be raining next Thursday, I should probably walk the dog this morning. The conclusion doesn’t make any sense given the premise.
Still waiting on the connection point? The Israelites to whom Amos was addressing his prophecy were living a non sequitur lifestyle. They were claiming to be faithful to God, but then not living like He commanded them to live. They were claiming the mantle of the Law, but then brazenly ignoring many of the things the Law set before then as non-negotiable.
This was not a situation that was going to be able to be sustained for very long. God wasn’t going to put up with it, and they were going to grow tired of the charade anyway.
To a certain extent, we are seeing this play out in our own culture. For many years, there was a positive social credit given for being a member of a church. As a result, many claimed devotion to one church or another (but especially those with weak theology) even though there was no real devotion to Christ holding sway in their hearts. The result of this was the phenomenon of the cultural Christian. They claimed the title for the social credit it garnered them, but they weren’t interested in actually following Jesus.
But, as that social credit has evaporated and even become a net social demerit, we have seen a rapid rise in the number of folks who are now willing to acknowledge they don’t have any real meaningful religious affiliation. These are the “nones” of religious survey fame. These nones have been leaving the church in droves, but mostly from the mainline, theologically weak denominations, that made cultural Christianity a comfortable position to hold.
Here’s the thing: Jesus doesn’t want non sequitur followers. He wants committed disciples. God was giving the Israelites the same warning here. If they wanted to have Him with them as they liked to claim, they were going to need to start pursuing life His way. Absent that, they were on their own.
Listen to this: The same thing is true in our own lives. If we claim the mantle of Christ, but don’t do life His way, we are fooling ourselves. As Jesus Himself put it, no one can serve two masters. If we want Him, we need to go all in for it. Otherwise, we shouldn’t bother. That may sound tough, but it’s His standard, not mine. He absolutely takes us just as we are, but He won’t be satisfied with anything less than all of us.
So, what are you holding back? Where are you living with sin that is keeping you from selling out entirely for Him? How can you place yourself even more unreservedly in His hands? The way of life is narrow and steep, we shouldn’t have any delusions about that. But it is the only one that leads to that destination. Let’s start walking and stay on it.