Rich Kids of Instagram and…Jesus

“Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory, and stretch themselves out on couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall… but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile; and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.” (Amos 6:4, 6-7)

Courtesy of unsplash.com and Manuel Moreno

Courtesy of unsplash.com and Manuel Moreno

Preaching is supposed to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Amos, the first, and angriest, of the prophets could be the originator of that advice: he spends all of the  sixth chapter, including the passage above afflicting the comfortable for being comfortable and ignoring the needs of the poor.

Basically, Amos is attacking his version of the Rich Kids of Instagram: people who luxuriated while others suffered.

Though I’m not filthy wealthy, this still bites at me. I wonder how my daily luxuries would stand up to Amos’ fierce words. Do I enjoy my morning latte in callous disregard for the suffering in the way that the Israelites eat lambs from the flock and stretch themselves out on couches? I can easily find myself oppressed by guilt and forbidding myself to rest at all in a push for a just society.

But this passage is more than a moralistic incitement to do better and to care more about suffering (much less a blanket attack on luxury). It should point us, as the whole Bible does, to Jesus.

Right now, we are in an Advent season which is looking forward to the incarnation of a God who acted nothing like the people that Amos is critiquing here. God came down, made himself one of us and entered into the brokenness of the world. He didn’t have to, and he even sacrificed his own glory out of love.

After this supreme demonstration of care and involvement, after joining us in the mess that we have made of our lives, Jesus suffered from the very punishment which Amos warns is coming to the wealthy in his era. He took the judgment for callous indifference even as  he demonstrated the most powerful kind of involvement.

With Jesus as my model, I don’t need to worry, since I’m much worse than I thought. The blindness which causes me to ignore the suffering makes me incredibly culpable. But this very culpability is what Jesus came for: why God did intervene and made himself known in the ruin that is our world – and even in my comfortable indifference. He doesn’t let me stay there.

So when you are oppressed this Christmas season by comfort and by your own seeming indifference know that your feelings of guilt are appropriate. But look, again, to Jesus: he came, fulfilled the law of compassion perfectly and suffered the just punishment for our indifference. Look to him, and rest in his incarnation.

And, if need be, sing about it: as one of my favorite carols ,”Thou who wast rich,” addresses God:

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becomes poor.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man.

Written by Greg Williams

Greg Williams

Greg Williams is pretty good at thinking about theology and pretty terrible at loving God and people. relying on God’s grace to help him get better. Greg tweets @gwilliamsster and blogs at fourthconfession.com (I have it on good authority he’d like it if you said hi).

About Greg Williams

Greg Williams is pretty good at thinking about theology and pretty terrible at loving God and people. relying on God’s grace to help him get better. Greg tweets @gwilliamsster and blogs at fourthconfession.com (I have it on good authority he'd like it if you said hi).

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