Seek Good

TEXT: Amos 5:6-7, l0-l5; Mark l0: l7-31


What a wonderful life it is, when prosperity seems to flourish in the land! All is well, all LOOKS well, the majority of people are happy, they're well fed, employed, and the nation is strong and healthy. It's a good life, and if everyone is not happy – then it must be their problem. Maybe they don't really want to work, since jobs are available, or maybe they choose to be one of those who do not prosper. After all, you get out of life what you put in. Everyone seeks good and that which brings life, and only a destructive person would seek evil and that which brings death. - Would you generally agree with that?

This was the case in Israel during the peaceful reign of Jeroboam the second. Everything was going well, when out of the country comes this shepherd named Amos who starts denouncing Israel and her neighbors for their reliance upon military might; -for their injustice in social dealings with the poor; - for the hated immorality that was widespread throughout the city, -and for their shallow and meaningless piety. Do I need to tell you that Amos was not a popular man about town? His message was not received well by the religious bodies of the day, or the legal authorities, or for that fact, by a large part of the population who thought that they were doing very well indeed. Of course, in Israel about 750 B.C., the religious authorities were the power behind the throne, as well as the interpreters of law for the people. The court of law, was located at the city gate, -and presided over by the priests, - it was open to any who had a grievance or cause to bring up. Here was where Amos spoke out, -saying that the people and the priests who represented them had turned away from God. They had become

complacent, - what we might call today, sort of fat, dumb, and happy in all their prosperity. Because you see, true justice for ALL OF GOD'S PEOPLE was not being observed. There were many in need, they were suffering and getting no relief from this governing organization. In fact, this prosperous system was taking the people for all they had. The poor were really destitute, the middle class (if they existed) was over-taxed, and the wealthy were living in the lap of luxury. Amos calls them to task when he says: “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate”.

Some 800 years later, a wealthy young man approaches Jesus and asks him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answers in the same way that God, His Father, had established beforehand in the time of Amos. Seek good and not evil, be just in your dealings with one another. If you need a measuring stick, look at the commandments, are you following them? The young man answers: “Yes, I follow the laws, I'm just to all people, and I've done this since I was old enough to know right from wrong.” (You know, not all of us could make that same claim with such conviction.)

Then we are told that our Lord looks with love upon the man -do you suppose He looked a little deeper? -Looked with those piercing eyes into the man's heart and saw all his goodness, -and yes, the flaws as well? Then Jesus throws out the challenge; “You lack one thing; -go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, COME, Follow Me”.

Today, here and now, I ask you, how strong is your faith? What really rules your hearts? What governs your conduct and controls your responses in life: Not everyone is called to be a prophet or an apostle or an ordained minister. Not everyone wants to live the life of hardship that is often involved in being so totally claimed. And, yet, today you are challenged to seek good, and not evil that you may live.

How hard it will be for those who have riches, those who have other priorities, to enter the kingdom of God?” Now, I don't think that Jesus is condemning those to whom much has been given. For scripture claims very clearly that to those who have, more will be given. Here, in this scripture, Jesus is simply asking how important is it? Does it, - your wealth, your talent, and your gift in and to the world, take precedence over God? Is that particular gift, that wealth, that talent, or position, more important then God Almighty and allowing Him to live fully through your life?

Peter is our champion on this question. I dearly love the character of Peter, because he is so real –so very human, and what is more, he charges in where angels fear to tread, -just as I do at times. Who but Peter would dare to challenge our Lord, again and again? Peter asks, “If it is so hard to enter the kingdom of God, then who can be saved?” Who can be saved, indeed, -for we are all human, -and we all fail and fall at times in our life. Today we live in stressful times where there are other demands that claim our time, our talents, and our tithes. We may find that we don't have the strength to be a Mother Theresa type, giving up all for the other – and that means all the time! So, how can we do it? Jesus gives us the answer, “With (human beings) it is impossible; but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

Seek the good, and not the evil. In all things, keep the image of God shining through your life. And, when in doubt, ask yourself, “Is this good, - what are my motives, - who does it prosper?” And sometimes, just sometimes, that answer is that it will prosper 'you'. Or, if I were to ask the question for myself, the answer might be that it prospers me. Is that so evil? I find I must trust in God, I try always to look to the common good, the greater good, especially as a minister. But, I also remember that we are all created for good. IF, and more probably WHEN, I stumble onto the wrong path, it is – to give us once again the vision, the image to seek after that which is good. We are to hate evil and when we realize we are falling into sin, -seek out the good, seek God. Seek out God in whose strength and forgiveness we have our very beings.

We live today in a time that sounds very much like the time of Amos. It is also like the time of Jesus. It is the best of times and the worst of times. And, today, as then, you and I are called out – called to look at, - to seek out that which is good, that which needs your care, your concern, your time, and your talents. This is especially so as you seek to serve the Lord. For without you, the ministry of Jesus Christ would not be possible and it might not get done. We are, each one of us, 'called' by God to hate evil and to seek good. And, then, by the grace of God, we will have everlasting life. Amen.

*Pastor Susen LaBlanc

Iron Hill Church, Iron Hill, Iowa.

Thank You, once again, for your contribution!