I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, “The Lord will not do good, nor will the Lord do harm.” Their wealth shall be plundered, and their houses laid waste. … The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast. - Zephaniah 1:12-14 (NRSV)
I live a comfortable life. My house is warm and dry, I have plenty of food, I have Netflix for watching the Great British Baking Show. It’s tempting to think of my material comfort as a divine blessing. My comfortable life, however, has a lot to do with my social position and not a lot to do with God. I’m a white, grad-school educated, married man. Explaining my comfortable life is easy enough without divine blessings.
In fact, God’s most zealous blessings are reserved – not for the comfortable – but for the poor. And God’s most zealous anger is reserved for the comfortable. Describing people like me, Amos 6 reads: “They lie on ivory beds, lolling on their couches.” While I am in no danger of lying down on an ivory bed (ouch! also, ew), I am concerned that I may be lolling on my couch. Who doesn’t like a nice loll on the couch, perhaps while watching Great British Baking Show?
The Bible makes clear that a day of reckoning is coming, a day when God will get what God wants. For the poor, what God wants is an upheaval of society so the poor at last have enough. And for the well-to-do, what God wants is an upheaval of society so that no one will have too much.
I’m a Christian, meaning I know better than to think the Lord will neither do good nor harm. The Day of the Lord is coming. And in a society filled with desperation and destitution, God has picked Her side.
The question is, if tomorrow were the day of the Lord, which side would I be on?
God, bless me with your own zeal for uplifting the poor.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.