But let justice roll down like water
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:24
Around 750 BCE, the prophet Amos delivered his message to the people of Israel. Amos was uncompromising in his message that God would soon come to judge people for their sins. Therefore, it was not sufficient to confine religious observance to ritual and worship without compassion for others.
This verse is one of Martin Luther King’s most quoted, appearing in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail in 1963 and five months later in his “I Have a Dream” speech. It is no surprise how these words confront indifference to racism and discrimination. The words are universal and transparent and reflect the profound ethical nature of God. We are called to seek justice and be righteous.
How do these words relate to our daily life in this suffering world?
First, we can do more than passively lament injustice. Biblical justice is not impartial but focuses on helping the helpless and the oppressed. Giving our time, talent, and resources to serve those in need is central to our faith. There are many opportunities to engage at Grace Church and the wider Christian community.
Second, being righteous is how we relate to and treat others. It is a high calling to love and respect others, particularly in this time of stark divisions. The word righteous is distinctly different from “being right” and requires humility.
We are in Advent and a season of hope. The words of Amos demanding justice and fairness are not all that different from Jesus’s words in Matthew 22:37-40 telling us to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Good and gracious God, we have fallen short in this unjust world. We seek your help to live our lives according to your will. Help us have compassion, mercy, and grace for others so they may know your love. Open our eyes to injustice and help us work for the helpless and needy. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
Well written, Jeff