Passage: Amos 5:18-27
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
It is possible to have a faith that appears vibrant, but in reality, is empty and decaying. Amos reawakens us to this possibility, lamenting our false worship and teaching us what true worship entails.
First, true worship begins with offering ourselves to God. Amos decried Northern Israel’s worship which, though busy with pomp and ritual, was actually nauseating to God. The purpose of Israel’s appointed feasts and sacrifices was to nurture her relationship with God, and yet she consistently abandoned him for other gods. God wants the heart of the worshipper themselves, so we need to ponder the motives behind our religious activities today. Second, true worship involves a commitment to justice. Justice, which involves “meeting needs through deeds,” should be persistent, strong, and constant in our lives—“like an ever-flowing stream” (5:24). Meeting the needs of others, large and small, through concrete actions, shows that our hearts have been captured by God himself, who met our greatest need in Jesus. Jesus came as the justice-bringing Messiah, a Savior whose ministry was defined by concrete acts of justice for the last, the lost, and the least. This ministry culminated in his death on the cross, dying in our place as the ultimate victim of injustice, and dying to forgive us for our own failure to live justly.
- True Worship Begins by Offering Ourselves to God (5:18-23)
- True Worship Involves a Commitment to Justice (5:24-27)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Amos 5:18-27)
True Worship Begins by Offering Ourselves to God (5:18-23)
Q) Re-read Amos 5:21-23. How would you describe God’s attitude towards Israel’s worship? What words does he use to describe this attitude? Why do you think God reacts so strongly here?
Q) God himself was the one who had directed Israel to worship him with “assemblies,” “offerings,” and “sacrifices.” Why, then, does he despise this ritual worship in these verses?
Q) Have you ever found yourself in a season where you were “going through the motions” of worshipping God, while your heart was far from him? What was it like? What are some of the signs that we’re in a season like this?
True Worship Involves a Commitment to Justice (5:24-27)
Q) Re-read Amos 5:24. Why do you think that doing justice is directly contrasted with the empty religious ritual of the precious verses? What do you think the image of rushing waters, and an ever-flowing stream is meant to convey about the role of justice in a Christian’s life?
Q) How has doing justice factored into your discipleship so far? If you grew up in a Christian environment, was justice seen as a core tenet of Christian living, or as an “optional extra”?
Q) Pastor Bobby defined doing justice as “meeting somebody’s needs through physical deeds.” How, if at all, does this expand your view of what it means to “do justice”?
Q) Our culture talks a lot about the importance of justice. How is our culture’s conception of justice similar to, and different from, the biblical conception of justice?
Q) Justice is always costly. Where in your life is there an opportunity to “do justice” right now, and what do you think it will cost you? (NOTE: Really try to process how you can concretely “do justice,” or areas where you’re doing it already).
Q) Read Luke 4:16-21. In this passage, Jesus announces the purpose of his ministry as the Messiah. What role does justice place in his ministry? What do these verses tell us about what Jesus considers important?
Q) How does Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection motivate us to do justice?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.