Social Justice is Anti-Materialism. Period.
In other words, materialism is the enemy of social justice. Don’t believe us? Look at Amos 6. We have studied God’s scathing critique against the Israelites this week on account of their injustices. They are frightening critiques, indeed! You would think that His people would be frightened, convicted and moved to change. But do they? Do the people respond in obedience and justice? Have they taken God’s charge for social justice seriously? In Amos 6:4–7, we see that the people of Israel have not changed, and the reason for their passivity and apathy is nothing less than their materialism.
The Israelites are not moved to social justice because they continue to wine and dine in their own wealth and comforts.
In fact, they are so blinded by their own comfortable life that they don’t even realize they need to change their ways. The leaders and elites, the powerful and those with influence are still living in luxury – they are sleeping on beds of ivory, lounging around without a concern, eating the choicest of foods; they are entertaining themselves with music, they are drinking delicious wine, and are wearing the best of perfumes. They are living what we call the American dream. They are indulging in materialism.
Here’s the problem: wealth, comfort and ease have blinded these people from action.
They neither know nor care about the injustices that they have committed or the injustices that have taken place in their cities. And, because of their blindness, because of their materialism God says that they will be the first to be punished. These people with influence will be the first ones exiled, and the noise they made while on their posh couches will be no more. God has a strong indictment for the wealthy in this last passage.
Now hear us out: God is not saying that wealth in itself is evil or unjust.
No, there are plenty of examples in the Bible where wealthy individuals used their resources for God’s kingdom and for the vulnerable. However, wealth has a way of blinding people from the injustices in our world, in our city. This is what has happened in Israel. This should strike home for us. Here in America, what are we plagued by? Selfishness, individualism, greed. All we think about is ourselves!
This is the problem that wealth brings. And we become so self-consumed that we don’t have either the time nor care to think about others. We have things to do, people to meet. We have deadlines to make. Materialism makes us lazy and ineffective. And God says He has no use for such people! Let that be a warning for us to wake up!
You see, we ourselves are the biggest obstacles to doing justice.
We, as Americans, are lazy and inactive. And that should scare us! We think that we are doing fine because we are working hard in our own personal lives, caring for our family, doing well in our workplace, making money. But how many of us take time in our week to care for those God calls the vulnerable? How often do you interact with the homeless, the destitute, the vulnerable? How often do you care for those that are suffering from real injustice in the world? For many of us, I’m assuming the answer is “never.” And that should scare us.
Let us break out of the world of our health and wealth, truly die to ourselves, and start caring for the people around us.
Because the consequences, if we don’t, are terrifying. Let us pray for God to open our eyes to those around us, to the needs of others, to the injustices that others face daily. Let us pray to God that we will stop being so worried about ourselves and the petty things in our life that claim all of our time. Let this call us to action because as Amos has shown, materialism is the enemy of justice.