Let Justice Roll

Water pouring over Victoria falls and into the river. In the same way, may justice roll
from the lives of God's obedient servants.  


Amos 5:21    I hate, I despise your festivals,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
I will not look upon.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an everflowing stream.


God’s emotional response to the empty worship of the Israelites can be heard in these words from Amos. The double emphasis of hate and despise opens the commentary. These are God’s people who are participating in all the “events” that are to surround their worship of God but they have become rituals that have nothing to do with God and everything to do with themselves. God is not fooled. 

God knows that the selection of music and the style of worship has become inwardly focused. This is what the people want and like and so God no longer has any desire to listen. God says to turn off the music and the noise! All the fervency in worship is not being translated into the ordinary life of God’s people. If there is no repentance, then there is no justice, and the result is a lack of  obedience on a daily basis. 


These people had cried out for the day of the Lord to come! They thought that they wanted justice, but not for themselves, for they thought they were calling down punishment on those whom they perceived as their enemies. Through Amos God revealed to them that God’s justice called into question their spirituality. Their spiritual lives were lacking and when we lead religious lives without morality, we will invite divine hatred. 

We can become so busy with all of our religious life that we forget that the Christian life calls for sacrifice and obedience. It is when we participate in a life of sacrifice and respond with obedience that we want to worship. It’s a matter of getting the priorities straight and understanding what comes first! 

Therefore, if we have somehow bifurcated our lives, one part spiritual, three parts daily life in the world, then we are missing out what God really wants from us. A student in one of the classes that I taught really drove home the part of finding balance in the Christian life, only she revealed that most Christians are trying to figure out how to balance out having that Christian life on one side and as much of the world as we can on the other. Jesus calls us to find balance in the permeation of Christ into every part of our lives. That is the true balance that God is asking from each one of us. 

I’ve learned that my worship experience on Sunday is directly related to my time with the Lord throughout the week. If I have been providing space for the Spirit to participate in every part of my life, then the style of music, the quality of the sermon and the type of building do not impact my ability to worship. With excitement I enter into the house of the Lord and have the blessed opportunity to worship my Lord with others who are like-minded in heart and soul. 

Obedience requires participation in God’s justice. Our lives of holiness are not just to be personal holiness, but also reflected in corporate and social holiness. What God does in the interior of my life is supposed to flow out into the lives of those with whom we come into contact. Justice is to flow out of God’s people as a sign of the overflow of God’s presence. 

Unfortunately society has caused us to become fearful of the term justice. God’s people need to reclaim the word that is found more than 1500 times in the Bible. Justice is a descriptor of the very nature of God and if we are participating in God through the power of the Holy Spirit, then justice is to describe God’s people. Holy love results in acts of justice in the world. It is these acts of justice that God embraces as worship, more than empty songs and beautifully staged worship services. 

Amos challenges us today to stop and examine our hearts, motives and activities. Is justice rolling out of our lives and spilling over into the world? What would it mean for us to participate in God’s justice? May this become the challenge for our spiritual worship. 


Lord, may justice roll. Amen. 


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