Let Justice Roll
Rev. Irance’ Reddix McRay, Pastor
Amos 5:23-24 23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
The Lord was not pleased with Israel. They had once again forgotten the One who had given them life and hope. Inequities, poverty, division, and greed were prevalent, and the streets were filled with self-centered pseudo-piety. Sounds like today. In this text, the prophet Amos decried their celebrations, which were just for the sake of festivities and not to celebrate God. Amos told the people to let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like a never-failing stream.
That descriptor of justice like a river paints the picture of being continuous with no beginning and no end. The stream of justice begins from the heart of God the creator. It flows over its banks and its water saturates all that it touches. Justice is a moral principle that is comprised of just conduct, dealings, administration, and lawfulness. It is mandated by a rule of law. Righteousness, on the other hand, is determined by the moral compass that is God’s law. Righteousness is determined by being in right standing with God. This admonition of justice being a never-failing stream points the hearer to become totally immersed in being in right standing with God.
During this time of unrest and upheaval, turbulence seems to be the order of the day. There is disease and destruction from an unseen enemy on one side and violence and death from an enemy that we can see. Both are antithetical to God’s peace: the COVID-19 pandemic on one side and systemic racism and hatred on the other. It is easy to slip into an everyday numbing routine that allows us to sing and dance our way into some form of normalcy. We laugh because we need mirth in our lives, we sing because we need to feel some joy, and we dance so that we may feel alive. But the Prophet Amos says all our singing and dancing are aimless if they are not predicated in the concepts of justice and righteousness.
The God we serve is communal in nature: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Since we are created in the image of God, we too are created as people of community; as such, what happens to one affects the other. This is why God requires us to act justly. God has given each of us a moral compass, a set of laws written on our hearts that are designed by God. This moral compass allows us to live in community; yet living in community does not mean that we are right with God, it just means that we can follow the laws. Righteousness on the other hand, being right with God, gives us the ability to feel as God feels, to love as God loves, be as close to God as we can.
So, as you watch the events of the world around us, keep in mind that we have a God-given moral compass that points us to justice and a God-given right to be close to God our righteousness. When we keep those two things in front of us and we become immersed in that stream that is called God’s grace then justice and righteousness are not hard to find. In fact, they can overflow everything that we think or do. Instead of being the victim of a viral disease or a moral disease such as racism, be the vaccine that inoculates the whole of community and be the cure of the malady called injustice, hatred, fear mongering, racism and bigotry. Be the righteousness of God and an example of what it means to live in justice.