"I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts. Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came! Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border? Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed." Amos 5:216:7
As sinful humans, every one of us is from birth under the impending divine wrath of God. Every man must decide at one point or another how he will respond to this. Each person chooses one of three ways to respond: religion, a relationship with Christ, or complacency. This passage talks about the two incorrect choices of the three, religion and complacency.
One popular response to the situation of mankind is religion. This takes many forms in many cultures. Religion is any attempt to make oneself right with God. The problem is that we as sinful men are absolutely powerless to do anything to make ourselves right with God. No religious actions, rituals, or sacrifice is enough to separate the gap between us and God. In Micah 6:6-8, Micah tells us that it isn’t anything which we can offer to the Lord that will bring us closer to Him. We can only be made closer to God on His strength. We can have no part in accomplishing our salvation. The problem with sacrifices is that they still require a cost to us. Only Jesus could be our sacrifice because He is the only sacrifice that costs us absolutely nothing. For more on the inability of sacrifices, see Psalm 50. Satan tries to use religion to fool people and keep them away from Christ, knowing that so many beliefs about how to escape the wrath of God would fool many. The problem with every religion is that they all require us to find our way to God. Only in a relationship with Christ does Christ come to rescue us and bridge the gap for us.
The second response is perhaps the more dangerous of the two, complacency. This is the opposite of religion. Complacency is a lack of response to our separation from God. There are a few reasons why someone might be complacent. It could be because he doesn’t realize that he is in danger, he could think that he is safe for one reason or another, or he could not care. Someone could think that because they have Christian parents, they are saved. They could think that they deserve to go to Heaven or that they can fight their way out of Hell. Some believe that Hell is no big deal, or some even think that it is better than Heaven. Still others don’t believe in God and thus have no reason to be made right with Him. No matter what the reason, complacency is a response, or lack thereof, which puts man in terrible danger. Religion shows a lack of understanding for the inability of man. Complacency shows a lack of understanding of the greatness and the terrible wrath of God. Everyone outside of Christ falls into one of these two categories. Both need to be told the Gospel.
Unfortunately, these are not problems which affect those outside of Christ only. Religion and complacency are both major issues within the body of Christ. Some struggle with religion. They try to create their own Christianity. We often call these people “self-righteous”. They do all kinds of service for Christ, but the relationship with Christ is not there. These are the Pharisees of the Church, the Christians who want everyone to know what a great Christian they are, but inside their heart is not following Jesus. However, today it is complacency which is more prevalent in the Church, just like the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22. How many believers do we see today that are merely content on “fire insurance”? They go to Church, but Christ is their back-up plan, their last resort, their genie in a lamp. We see so many who claim the name of Christ, but how many truly live in the way Christ wants them to live? How many have even read in their Bible to know what that means?
Are you either? Are you religious? Is God someone you serve, but not someone you know or have a real relationship with you? Are you complacent? Does Christ mean anything to you? Is He a name, a label, an idea? Is He even real to you? Do you care what He said or how He wants you to live? No one is ever going to strike the perfect balance on this side of eternity and in all likelihood you will struggle with one if not both. But do either of these define you? If they do, you really need to examine your relationship with Christ, if you even have one. If you do have that relationship with Christ, we should be burdened for those who struggle with either of these. Those who are religious, we need to show them our powerlessness to be made right with God. We don’t meet God halfway. He comes for us if we allow Him to save us. To the complacent, we need to show them the urgency of where they are at and God’s mighty power to save them. They need to hear of His redeeming grace. A relationship with Christ is truly the only way to be saved (John 14:6).