Session 2: The kind of religion that is part of the problem (Amos 3 & 4)

Download these notes in word format: Amos course – session 2

‘Bring your sacrifices every morning…and brag about your freewill offerings – boast about them, you Israelites for this is what you love to do’ (4:4-5)

Re-cap on last session

  • Re-cap on last time’s session about a world of injustice and ask people to share briefly any facts or information about the issue they were looking into.  As leader, it might be a good idea to kick off the sharing time.

We will come back to that issue later on.

Introduce theme

Tonight we are looking at the kind of religion that is part of the world’s problems rather than part of the solution.

Read the whole of Amos 3

Focus on Amos 3:1-2
Israel had been chosen from among the nations, but why?

  • For what purpose were they chosen?
  • Ask one person to read Genesis 12:2-3

Israel had been chosen to be a blessing to the whole world: ‘all peoples on earth will be blessed through you’ (Genesis 12:3, 18:18).  Later when they were rescued from Egypt, God gave them the law so they would be distinctive: ‘Show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’. (Deuteronomy 4:6).

A key part of the law was concern for the marginalised and poor: ‘Do not oppress an alien: you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt’ (Exodus 23:9).

But by Amos’ day this concern for the poor at the heart of Hebrew faith had been discarded and forgotten.  Religion become hopelessly corrupted and helped maintain social injustice rather than challenge it.  Religion had become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

Read the whole of Amos 4

Focus on Amos 4:1-5

  • What is the lifestyle of the wealthy women?
  • In v.4 and 5, through Amos’ sarcasm, what impression do we see of their religious practices?
  • Look onto verse 12, what do we see is the consequences?

The religion may be enthusiastic but there is something deeply wrong: an offering is a way of acknowledging and thanking God for his generosity – but here it is being used as a way of looking good.  Offerings and tithes are an opportunity to boast.  

How does this connect with today’s world?

  • What kind of religious experiences have you had or seen which have similar problems to this?

Exercise

Divide the group into two – rather than move around too much maybe just divide the room in half.

Each group has 5 minutes to discuss the following question.  Leaders, please make clear that we are not just discussing our church but the Church generally.

Group 1: In terms of bearing a good witness to God, what are the best things the Church can do?

Group 2: In terms of bearing witness to God, what are the worst things the Church does?

Come back into a large group and one person from each group share what was said.

Question: What do these answers tell us about the way we should bear witness to God?

Return to the issues of injustice that each person took away from last week (and hopefully researched)

What could the Church do about this issue?  Or, what are churches already doing?

  • Are there any issues that you feel your church could something about?  Is there anything that your home-group or you personally could do?

Prayer:

  • Offer prayers for the Church globally, the UK Church, for churches in your area, for your Church fellowship, for your home-group and for each of you – that we may not follow the example of the religion condemned in Amos but that we may have integrity between what we say and sing of and how we live.  Help our lives be marked by your justice and joy Lord God.

A Challenge:

Give each person a copy of the challenge below (and enthuse them to do it!)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Ask a friend, colleague or family member who is not a Christian the following question. (It is a good idea to be open and tell them that your church is looking at how Christians are seen by those outside the church.)

  • ‘In your experience, what is the best thing you have seen a church do?’

After they have answered take a note of their answers and bring it back to next home-group

2 Responses to Session 2: The kind of religion that is part of the problem (Amos 3 & 4)

  1. Pingback: The Amos Course: God’s Word to a World of Injustice (a bit of R&R for your home group) | Resistance & Renewal

  2. Pingback: ’12 Years a Slave’ and the ambivalent role of religion | Resistance & Renewal

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