But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (@revpamsmith)

Amos-prophet

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Amos 5:24 (New International Version)

Amos the shepherd was called by God to prophesy in the 8th century BCE. His prophecies called society back to justice, mercy and the Law of Moses from which they had strayed.

Amos was an isolated figure who opposed those who held power and wealth – the king, the institutions, the leaders – in support of the oppressed and the poor. Criticising the powerful and calling them to take responsibility for the powerless is never popular. If you have wealth and power, it is all too easy to view this as a reward for your own hard work or worthiness. Seeing power and wealth as gifts from God which should be shared is always going to be an unpopular view.

During the last general election, I wondered whether, as a Christian voice online, I should perhaps maintain a neutral position, in case sharing my political views implied that I thought God took a particular political position?

The prophets of the Bible are very clear about what God is telling them to say. I don’t have the certainty that a prophet like Amos has, but I think I still have a responsibility to be ‘prophetic’ in the sense of speaking out what I believe rather than hiding it in order to fit in better or out of fear that people will fall out with me.

In the end, I decided to be open about my views, and entered into the discussions that my openness provoked with people who disagreed with me. I aimed for dialogue with people of other views where possible, rather than arguments.I didn’t always manage this!

Ultimately, I was most concerned that people should be informed about their choices and should vote, even if they voted for a different party. I talked to people who weren’t going to vote because they believed it didn’t make a difference.This worries me more than a particular party being in power.

With hindsight, I’m glad that I chose to participate in the lively discussions that were taking place online rather than sit on the fence. Christianity is about incarnation and engagement.  We may not all agree about the best way to achieve a just society, but God cares passionately about what happens in human society, about whether we treat each other with justice and mercy, so as a Christian, I should care passionately as well.

image from Wikimedia Commons

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