Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Call To Righteous Action"

Amos 7:7-17, Psalm 82,Colossians 1:1-14,Luke 10: 25-37

July 11, 2007

by James Greene

 

In our readings this morning we see the theme of Godís call to righteous action.It is a call to us as the people of God to do the right thing.We are called to be righteous, and to reflect that righteousness in our actions.We have to have that integrity in our character and our actions.††

†††††††††† Have you ever really looked at the outside of this church?Have you looked at the way it was built, and itís style of construction?When you go outside this morning, take a look.The foundation is firm.I discovered that, when the man from the pest control drilled a hole through the floor in the basement.He used a 36Ē long bit, to drill through the concrete.(He never hit dirt.)The walls are true.You can look down the side of the walls and they are straight and true. The mortar in between the brick is only about 1/8Ē.†† You can tell the masonry was done well.You could put a plumb line down the wall and it will still be plumb after almost 96 years.†† It was built right.It has integrity in its structure.We as the church have to reflect the same integrity in our structure.

 

The reading of Amos this morning we see the prophet in conflict with the culture of the northern kingdom.He must have been one of the prophets that came out of A&M.

††††† The Lord is standing by a wall, that was built true to plumb with a plumb line and he asks Amos what does he see?His answer is ďA plumb line.ĒWith an answer like that, he had to be an Aggie.

The imagery here is Amos who is a shepherd, and an aggie, who comes from Judea, below Jerusalem, and travels to the northern kingdom city of Bethel.He comes to bring the Lordís prophesy of judgment to that kingdom.He comes against Amaziah the high priest at Bethel.He is calling the kingdom to righteousness.Amaziah is a professional, he is a priest paid by Jeroboam the King.The kingdom has used its judges and its power to oppress the poor, and God is bringing His judgment upon them.

††††††††† We have a glimpse of dueling prophets: Layman Vs. Professional Priest.Amaziah declares that Amos is conspiring against Jeroboam, and told not to prophesy.Amos explains that he is not a professional, but a shepherd that has been called by the Lord to bring the word to Israel.†† He proclaims the destruction of Israel, Amaziahís family also will be destroyed, Israel will go into exile, and Amaziah will die in a pagan land.It is because Israel has fallen away from its call to righteousness by God.

 

Our reading from Psalm 82, is about Godís righteous call to those who are placed or chosen into authority.†† We see God presiding in the great assembly.He is giving judgment among the gods.It seems kind of strange way to phrase things.

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Mathew Henryís Commentary helps explain this phrasing:

Godís presiding power is asserted as a great truth that is necessary, to be believed by both the Judges and the people being judged.

Judges are entrusted with this power and honor that to be used in might and authority for the public good.They should be the same in wisdom and in courage in the use of their position.They are, in the Hebrew dialect, called gods.The same word Elohim is used for God and for the judges that are under his authority.

 

But God is calling them to righteous action, because God is a God of action;he calls them to action.They are under a higher moral responsibility, because of their position.He calls them to defend, maintain, rescue, deliver---the weak, the fatherless, the needy and the poor.God calls them to care for the lost, those who donít understand: those who walk about in darkness.††

†††††††††† God is calling us, as his people, to righteous action, in this community today, just as he calls the magistrates, the rulers, and the judges in ages past.†† We are called to responsibility as the people of God.The plumb line of Godís righteousness is just as true for us today.We are called to action to defend, to maintain, to rescue, and deliver : the weak, the fatherless, the widow, the needy and the poor.We are not to just stand by as spectators, and say ďOh thatís too badWe are called to do something about it:

†††††††††† To help feed the hungry, to give to the homeless person on the corner, to visit the sick, to mentor the fatherless, to help each other in community.It is all part of bringing in Godís Kingdom, and being Godís people in our secular culture.

 

†††††††††† The reading from Colossians, is all about growing in the knowledge of God.It is about the spreading of faithfulness and bearing fruit for the Kingdom.We see this in Paulís praying for the church in Colosse to fill them with that knowledge of Godís Will.When we pray we prepare the ground for the planting of Godís word, and the calling of Godís people to him.

†††††††††† This is one of the things we need to do in this congregation today.We need to pray.We need to prepare the ground for those coming to us, that they will hear Godís word and learn about Godís Will in their lives.It can happen through us, but we have to take action, and actively pray for this church and its call to this community.We are to help with The Harvest, because we are bringing in the Kingdom.It is a labor not only of the Spirit, but also of action as Godís people.It is bringing in Christís Kingdom and bringing people to God through Jesus.

†††††††††† Yet we, like Amos and the Psalmist, need to do it with integrity, and with the understanding of the responsibility of our task and our call.It is to change the culture to one that breathes with a spirit of integrity, that the work we do, in the community, reflects Godís values, principles, and righteousness.We need to remember that we are building a community that doesnít oppress and enslave the weak, and the helpless.†††

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In the Luke we see parable of the Good Samaritan and a reflection of a call to righteous action.It is an image of goodness.

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The expert in the law is wanting to find out what he has to do to inherit eternal life.He is concerned with the letter of the law, but has missed the intent and the spirit of the law.He has answered correctly the question Jesus asks about what is written in the law. He breaks it down into the two basic elements of the law to (1.) ďLove God, with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mindAnd (2.) ďLove your neighbor as yourself.ĒBut he doesnít grasp the essence of the Law.

The parable is about a call to righteous action.Jesus demonstrates through this story how the Priest, and the Layman keep the laws of cleanliness, but fail to understand the law of compassion.They donít understand that the compassionate God, looks to them to be compassionate towards the helpless, - the needy.

Ironically, it is the outcast, the Samaritan, who demonstrates compassion towards the suffering man on the side of the road.The Samaritan answers the call to righteous action; the call to right- action.It is not the professional righteous, but the amateur righteous who actually live Godís will, and demonstrate Godís compassion.It shows us how God can demonstrate his power and his salvation through imperfect people to accomplish His Will.We demonstrate active love towards someone who is weak, in need, or fatherless.We have that ability here today, as Godís people, to be Godís people, to those around us.We are called to Righteous action, because it is a part of who we are.We have to become amateurs.We to do it because we love, and we express that love in an image of goodness to the strangers around us, and those with us in community.†††††††

 

Summery

†††††††††† Just as in Amos, God calls his people to righteous action because it is their responsibility as his people to defend the weak.We see in Psalm 82 the same example with those who are placed in positions of authority and power to be good stewards, and take care of Godís people.Finally, in Luke Jesus also shows us what the image of goodness looks like, when we answer the call to righteous action.

 

It is a mind set of relationship to, and with each other, in our actions.It is

bringing in the Kingdom and it is happening through us with our actions.††† It is the rule of God through Jesus demonstrated for us,-††† that we may demonstrate Godís power and wisdom through our weaknessÖ.

 

†††††††††† In the Name of Ö††† the Father,†† the Son,†† and the Holy Spirit.Amen

 

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