What if, in the eyes of heaven, one hard-working, well-meaning picketer/crime-fighter is worth more than a million-dollar ministry campaign?
Bizarre question, I suppose, but give me a few minutes to flesh out my thoughts, and you’ll understand.
“Actions speak louder than words.” We’ve heard this all our lives, but I stumbled on something which, I believe, proves it mirrors God’s opinion as well.
I used to work at the headquarters of a religious organization, and many people there knew how to talk a great game. The “stuff” they did for God was mind-blowing, and I knew I could never match their million-dollar projects, catchy slogans and slickly-printed promotional material.
Compare that with my buddy Emil, who, dressed as a Real-life Superhero (RLSH), “The Komet,” marched with a group of people in his hometown of York, PA, a few years ago, in a rally which combined a message of anti-violence with a city-wide clean-up effort. He’s the one on the right side of the picture below, with a red mask and shirt:
One man stands on stage in a $1000 suit, laying out a stirring plan for distributing his new “Christian inspirational” book to thousands of church-goers all over the country.
While another marches in a home-made cape and mask, picking up trash and encouraging the community to seek non-violent ways of expressing themselves.
One man stands in front of thousands of mega-church attendees, flying their spirits to the very throne of God with soul-rapturing music, only to drive home in his expensive car, to his expensive house, and spend the following week planning for next Sunday.
While another is interviewed in his RLSH costume, telling the local news channel it’s time for change, and that the city may have to get their hands dirty in order to make it happen.
Is one better than the other? Am I claiming the workers at the religious organization, the Christian inspirational writer and the Worship Leader are “bad” or “unholy” in some way?
Their actions are not for me to judge. Try this, however: weigh each against the following Bible verse, which God gave to a man named Amos, after having His fill of Israel’s pomp and pretense:
“I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want (Amos 5:21-24).”
Another version states the last verse like this:
“I want to see a mighty flood of justice—a torrent of doing good (Amos 5:21-24).”
This inspired me. It reminded me that, while it’s wonderful I work at a Christian university, what am I doing to feed the homeless? Going to church every Sunday is a great thing, but am I fighting for the poor to receive the same measure of justice the rich enjoy? Having Christian friends is amazing, but when was the last time I slipped out for a slice of pizza with someone who doesn’t believe the same way I do? Someone who…GULP….even hates Christians, just to talk?
What am I doing to bring about a “mighty flood of justice?”
Nothing. That’s the embarrassing and humbling reply.
May we be stirred to movement. May we step out of our cushiony, velvety world, into a place of action and, for some, even danger.
For goodness’ sake.
“Be good, flee evil—and live! Then the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will truly be your Helper, as you have claimed he is. Hate evil and love the good; remodel your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Hosts will have mercy on his people who remain (Amos 5:14-15).”