Tuesday, December 12, 2006

“Get out, you seer!”

A few Sundays ago, we heard a great sermon about the human condition. Our pastor said that after doing something shabby and being called on it, “I thought, ‘What else could I have done?’ And a little voice said to me,

“‘You could have said, I’m sorry, you’re right; thank you for pointing out that character defect in me, for correcting me.

“ And I said, ‘I don’t like that one very much; what else have you got?’”

We all laughed, but we also recognized ourselves in that little vignette. Most of us don’t really like being corrected.

Today’s Old Testament reading, from the book of Amos, includes someone who took that attitude, the attitude of hating correction, and turned it into a fine art, or rather a coarse one.
Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. For this is what Amos is saying:

“‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.’ ”

Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.”
Amos 7.12-13
This Amaziah guy was something else — but how different from him am I when I reject the truth about my own sin... when I’m being selfish or rude, when I pursue meaning in life outside of my relationship with Jesus? When I ignore a pang of conscience or a prompting of the spirit?

Today, if I hear his voice, let me not harden my heart. Let me not be like Amaziah. Help me to be like the man who under reproof becomes wiser and increases his learning — and not to be a scoffer.

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