Being a pastor I get the chance to study the Bible and teach what I learn. And honestly I’ve been learning a lot lately! I’m not sure how it happened but for a time it felt like I heard less new to me stuff and kept almost recycling the information I already knew. But starting the first of the year over at Living Word Galena we started a new sermon series titled Reframe. The point was to take what we know and look at it from a different angle, kind of like looking at an old picture after it’s been reframed. Well this process has been massively rewarding! It’s been so rewarding that I’ve started to implement this idea in all of my reading.
This week as I was preparing for our midweek Bible study on the book of Amos, I was stunned when I stepped back and took a second look. Ok so you can get over the shock of the question that has to be rolling through your head – Who reads Amos? It’s a pretty good book with a few great nuggets of Jesus’ presence nestled inside! Let’s take a look at one that really stuck out to me.
In Amos 7, God uses a really cool image. Take a look.
Behold I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass by them; the high places of Isaac will be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel will be laid waist, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.
Up until this point God has warned of pending destruction to the nation. Amos pleads for the people and God relents. That’s another post for another time. But the third warning has no rebuttal. No reply at all! That’s because even Amos can see it. The people out of plumb! If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically that they’re crooked. They haven’t been able to live rightly. You see we tend to measure our right and wrong in comparison to other people. We think at least I’m not as bad as him! But this isn’t plumb! It’s just not as crooked as someone else.
God says I’m going to set the standard for right and hold you accountable to it. When we measure our righteousness by anything other than God we’re left kind of wobbly. It’s like trying to walk with a cane and not putting your feet on the floor! It’s just not possible. It doesn’t’ work that way. All too often we think we can measure ourselves by our time spent on something or by a comparison to someone else or even by a book written by men. But God here says you are righteous by how plumb you are compared to my standard of perfect. Doesn’t seem fair does it? At a minimum it sounds impossible.
But the story takes a drastic change in the New Testament. Enter Jesus. When God set the standard of perfect, he knew we wouldn’t be able to measure up. So he gave us a gift. Using churchy words it’s call the imputation of righteousness, which basically means that Jesus’ perfect becomes our perfect! He gives us, credits us, corrects us to match his righteousness. That means when God sees us, he sees the cross and its perfect righteousness.
All that comes from one verse in this little read book of Amos! Take a minute and look at something you’ve seen a million times. Slow down enough to recognize the little things. Maybe God has a message for you in the short pauses, little words, and seemingly insignificant moments of life.