Scripture Reading: 2 Peter 1:16-21
So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. –2 Peter 1:19-21
Th book of Amos written around 750 BCE could have been penned or keyboarded yesterday. It speaks of rampant greed and the use of religion for selfish gain. Humans have difficultly learning from history when it impedes our avarice. I was watching a rerun of Foyle’s War recently which dealt with the aftermath of World War II where the vulture capitalist ruthlessly attached to whichever side brought them the most reward in the recovery. The ones in the show were in league with Stalin. It was chilling to watch. I have wondered how much of the continuation of our recent wars are as much about the growth of private contractors’ bottom lines as it is about terrorism. I have no question that the increase in the number of prisoners in the USA is related to growing the private prison industry. As with Israel in the 750’s BCE, our society will crumble around us if we do not repent and change our ways.
The faith community is being distracted from such issues as we are pitted one against the other. Very personal, emotion laden issues are tossed in our faces each time we start pilfering around the edges of other problems. It was going on as far back as the 1980’s when I spent a fair amount of time working with others to address the problems of teenage pregnancy and low-birth weight babies. None of our energies were targeted at abortion. It is my experience that most people in Oklahoma generally do not believe in abortion. We were trying to reduce unwanted pregnancies and assure that every newborn had a healthy start. Our efforts were routinely thwarted when funding bills were considered by cries of abortion being an ulterior motive in our efforts. Using government funds to pay for abortion has been against the law since the 1970’s and still is today. If there were ulterior motives, they most likely were to use well intended people of faith to stop the use of tax dollars on addressing human need.
We have prophetic voices speaking today. As was true in Amos’ day, we must carefully discern the voice of God when hearing them speak. The litmus test I like to apply is determining if prophetic ideas pass the test of love. Where is the love in cutting funding for prenatal care? Where is the love in sending first-time, drug offenders to prison rather than restoring them to wholeness in a community based setting?
Prayer: God, open our ears to hear truth when truth is spoken and to identify manipulation when truth is not spoken. Amen.
Pictured above is The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina and architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement that gained national acclaim with its Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013.