Seek the LORD and live, or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire, and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it. Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood, and bring righteousness to the ground!” (Amos 5:6 – 7)

I remember back in my youth that sermons exhorted the listener to repent and return to the proper Christian life, or suffer the perils of being outside of God’s will. Or at least it seems that was the thrust of sermons back in that day. I am trying to pinpoint when that changed, or when in my personal perception that changed. When did Christianity become “soft”? When did it change from being fire and brimstone to opening up the scriptures for understanding and edification? I am not saying the change was a good thing, or a bad thing. I am just wondering when it happened?

“They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth. Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins– you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate.” (Verses 10 – 12)

“They hate the one reproves in the gate”; I still have memory of fiery preachers and altar calls that brought people weeping down to the front of the assemblage. My grandfather used to preach in such a place, and everyone once in a while at the church of my youth there were such services. But they became less frequent, and I guess less attended. Did we become “better” people who did not need such reprove?

“Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time; for it is an evil time. Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.” (Verses 13 – 15)

Or, as it occurs to me, did we become “silent” because such confrontational preaching did not have the desire outcome? As I think on it, in seminary there was the coming realization that conversion that comes at the front of the assemblage gets weaker and more watered down by the time the new converts reach the back of the church and exit. Maybe that is why.

Another reason could be that the fiery rants are heard more from politicians and social pundits – those who pass judgment not from a religious base but from a personal perspective. A perspective that does more harm than good when paired with religiosity. Ah well.

May you, beloved reader, seek the Lord and live. Not because you fear the fire that will come against; but because living within God’s will is so much more pleasant and reassuring. And living within the Divine’s love brings rewards that are like cool refreshment to the soul! Shalom & Selah!