Speaking from this week’s lectionary readings (Amos 8:1-12, Colossians 1:15-28, Luke 10:38-42), Rev. Augustin preached a challenging message on what it truly meant to have Jesus at the center of our lives; moving us away from superficial, pre-fabricated, and insipid spirituality.
Amos begins this mornings readings with dire warnings of doom and gloom. The Israelites have convinced themselves that, as God’s special people, they could do whatever they wanted and get away with it. It was the heathen nations such as Egypt and Assyria that would suffer God’s wrath because they did not know God and they also would suffer because they went again God’s own people.
But in this series of messages to Amos, God points out that He actually helped Egypt and Assyria, but it is Israel who would suffer His wrath – simply because they were His people. God was upset with them because they did not change their ways. It was business as usual for them even though they were now a Holy Nation. Amos calls us to move out of superficial spirituality – to get deeper with our faith.
Very often, our faith does not impact us enough to cause real change and we go on as before, like everybody else. How that change is to occur is a mystery, says Paul. The secret is that Jesus is in us. The mind-blowing fact is that God lives in us! As Paul addresses the Colossians, he reminds them of this all important truth – our God is not far away. He lives right inside us.
This second reading thus warns us against pre-fabricated spirituality. We often want to make God over to fit our lives and our perceptions. We want a faith and spirituality that we are comfortable with.
But as we sang in the morning: “Jesus be our center…” – if Jesus is to be our center, then He will remodel us to fit Him, not the other way around. We sometimes have a cheap view of grace, much like the ancient Israelites had – God is gracious and kind, so no matter what we do or how we live, he will close one eye. However, the Bible tells us that grace does not exists without law. Grace does not replace law. Jesus said he came to fulfil the law, not abolish it. The second reading encourages us to move beyond pre-fab spirituality to a faith that really remodels us.
The third reading speaks of the priority of Jesus in our lives. He calls us from the things that would distract us, that would turn our attention away from Him – even doing his works can be a distraction. When was the last time we enjoyed the presence of Jesus? When was the last time we gloried in his presence? He calls us to move from an insipid spirituality to a deeper communion with Him, holding Him in our hearts as we go about life this week.
May this week see Jesus revealed to us as move deeper, fuller, into a closer walk with Him.
Jesus, be our vision, be the center and hope of our lives.