JR. Forasteros - November 18, 2012

You Can't Stop Crooked

The Lion Roars

We think of judgment as something God does to us. But Amos shows us that judgment is the result of our own malformed character.

From Series: "The Lion Roars"

Amos pictures God as a lion, roaring God's judgment from Mt. Zion. We don't like to think of God as a judge. But the biblical picture of God as judge is founded in God's love as our Father in Heaven. We can hear God's judgment as words as a firm love calling us to be whole.

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God’s judgment is a scary thing to consider. Anytime a national tragedy strikes, there’re always people ready to claim it’s God judging us. So when 9/11 happened, Katrina or Sandy. The earthquake in Haiti. Or on a more personal level, we often think of the bad things happening in our lives as God punishing us. So if we get an illness or lose a job or something like that, we wonder, Did I do something wrong? Is God judging me?

And to complicate it more, some who experience those tough times, those personal or national tragedies claim they’re blessings. Some claim losing a job or getting cancer or losing a home was the best thing that ever happened to them, that their judgment was a wake-up call and they wouldn’t trade it for a million bucks.

So which is it? Are tough times blessings or judgments?

According to Amos, judgment is blessing. God sending judgment on us can very well be the best thing to happen to us. It makes sense if you remember that judgment in the biblical world was based in the world of the family, not of the courtroom. When God judges us, it’s correction, restoration. The point of God’s judgment is always to bring about repentance and restoration. So in that sense, God’s judgment is blessing.

But what makes the difference for us – whether we experience hard times in our lives as blessing or curse – has to do with our own character.

The question we want to ask ourselves today is, How am I preparing myself for judgment?

My cousin Tanner is a freshman at Ohio State. A couple of weeks ago, he decided to run a marathon there with a couple of his friends. He’s in ROTC, so he’s in pretty good shape – apparently good enough shape that he decided he didn’t need to train at all for the marathon. Then, as if that weren’t enough, he and his friends agreed to ride their bicycles to the race.

Which means they’d also have to bike home. After running 26.2 miles.

When he told his dad his plan, his dad said, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. Why don’t you let me meet you at the finish line with my truck. I’ll drive you and the bikes home.

My cousin said, No thanks.

You know how this story ends, right? After the race, he couldn’t even walk for at least half an hour. And then he and his friends had to ride their bikes back home. He said it was one of the worst, most painful experiences of his life.

Now, compare that with many of my other friends who’ve run marathons. Sure, it’s hard. Their bodies hurt afterwards. But they consider it a good experience. Hard, yes. Painful, yes. But good. Why? What’s the difference?

Mostly, it’s the way they prepared themselves. It’s how their internal character was prepared for the external circumstances.

That’s not how we think of judgment. We think that judgment is something that happens OUT THERE, not something contingent on IN HERE. But that’s exactly how Amos tells us to think in chapter 7.

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