Amos saw a wall that was so far from true that it was on the verge of crumbling away - and he spoke out, he showed people, he pointed out all that was wrong and he is told to flee - for Israel can not bear to hear his words. - how plumb is Israel’s wall today? - as we hear of the escalating violence in the Middle East - is the targeting of civilian targets, the killing of innocents a justifiable reaction to the capture of two soldiers - is the wall a legitimate defensive strategy or an act of aggression against an oppressed people? Is the refusal to grant travel passes to a group of children traveling to the UK the action of a people whose plumb line is true?
‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb-line.’ Then the Lord said,
‘See, I am setting a plumb-line, in the midst of my people Israel;
“The first casualty of war is the truth,” - and so it is hard for us to really know the truth and there are no easy answers to any of the above - we will each start from our own perspective and arrive at a variety of views. But God begins and and ends with truth, and it is God who has set the plumb line and God who will judge just how plumb is the modern State of Israel.
Speaking the truth has always been a dangerous occupation - John spoke against Herod - ultimate crime was to point out his moral failings, but John has been speaking about the Kingdom of God and in doing so contrasting the justice and righteousness of the God’s reign with the power-grabbing injustice and oppressiveness of Herod’s reign - speaking the truth provokes fear and reaction - and a rash drunken lustful promise - that doesn’t release Herod from the John problem - he is haunted by his fear throughout the gospel. Herod’s plumb line was so far from the vertical that it was horizontal - The kingdom of God is a kingdom where justice and peace kiss. It is a kingdom built on compassion, where the least is first so that there can be no possibility of people being used as instruments or cannon fodder or as a means to some (alleged) “greater good”. In a climate where we are told that “security” justifies killing and making war on the people, we are confronted with Jesus who is murdered for “reasons of state security”. http://wolabcd.wordpress.com/2006/07/15/pentecost-6-year-b/
Where is God in any of this? - Where are we? do we have any relevance? any voice? any role? In Ephesians our individual story is set within the context of God’s whole story, we are part of creation, connected to the whole of humanity and chosen, adopted, precious to the one who made all things. “In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit” - having heard the word of truth we must live the word of truth - the plumb line falls on us just as it falls on those in power - we must live with honesty and integrity, seeking the truth, speaking the truth, living the truth - sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. - in doing so we assist in holding up the plumb line to those who hide the truth, who use their power and their influence to create a Kingdom of injustice and unrighteousness.
How do we know truth in our own lives - later in Ephesians Paul calls on the people to live as the children of the light - for everything exposed by the light becomes visible. Perhaps that is the clue - are their parts of our lives that we would not wish to be exposed to the light? Are these the areas of life that we need to deal with as individuals, as a community of God’s people, so that we can be the word of truth? By God’s grace, by God’s goodness each person, each community, each nation, the whole of humanity is valued, chosen, loved. None are beyond the reach of God’s love - each can know new life through Jesus.
“God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:20-23