Saturday, December 03, 2011

Seek Me and Live

During this first week of Advent, we hear words from God through the prophet Amos.  The Lord says, "Seek me and live... Seek the LORD and live... Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts will be with you..." (Amos 5:4,6,14) When you read these words did they surprise you?

That the LORD calls his people to repentance is no surprise.   Since the chapter two of Amos, we have heard of nothing but the sin of God's people:  "they have rejected the law of God... they have sold the needy for a pair nice sandals... a father and a son go into the same girl...  [they] commanded the prophets, saying 'You shall not prophesy'... they do not know how to do right." (Amos 2:6,7,12; 3:10)  So, it is not a surprise to hear God's call to repentance, for them to seek good and not evil.  And as we reflect this Advent on our own sin, it should be no surprise to us that we also have need to repent.  Indeed, many of the sins that God condemns in Israel and Judah (and in the surrounding nations, see Amos 1:2-2:3) are present in our own country and in our own lives.

The big surprise of Amos 5 is that God is not only calling his people to repentance, but also to Himself.  He says, "Seek Me and live... Seek The LORD and live..."

When we are wronged by someone, especially when it is a big grievance (as in abuse or slander or unfaithfulness), anyone can easily admit the need for the offending party to repent, to turn away from the thing they are doing or have done.  But how many of us would readily call those who hurt us to come near?  How many of us would hold out open arms to those who have abused us, hated us, slandered us, belittled us, or ignored us?  That is what God is doing here.  He is calling the people who hate Him to come to Him.

In Advent, we put ourselves in Israel's position, and rightfully so.  We too have wronged our God.  We too have been unfaithful.  We also need to repent.  And we need to feel deeply the surprise of God's invitation.   We too need to be shocked that despite all our sin, He is still calling us to Himself! Indeed through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ that we anticipate during Advent, we are reminded that today the invitation of God for wayward sinners to come to Him is greater now than ever before!  Not only does God invite us near, but He Himself has come to us in Christ, and even more, He has taken our guilt on Himself!  He has displayed his love yet again, his mercy as unfathomable! Remember what St. Paul said? "For rarely would anyone die for a righteous person--- though maybe for a good person someone might dare to die-- But God shows his love to us in this, while we were still sinners Christ died for us... through him we have received reconciliation." (Rom 5:7-8, 11) God calls us to Him, and He has made a sure way to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:1)

The question that hit me this week was this:  Will I go to Him?  Amidst all the craziness of this time of year... will I go to Him?  Will I seek Him and not a method; seek Him and not just repentance.  Seek a Person and not just amendment of life. Yes, I need to repent, but in addition to that, I need life, and life can only be found in Him.  As the Psalm for Friday of this week reminded us:  "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Ps 16:17) He is better than any other thing in your life right now.  Seek Him and live.  Seek the LORD this week and have life that is truly life.

Advent 2011, Week 1

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