I watched bits of the movie “this is 40” a thinly veiled semi autobiographical Judd Apatow story about the horrors of middle age, and was struck by some lines from Albert Brooks about being Jewish. Describing his son to his (gentile) daughter in law: “now he doesn’t seem very Jewish, but believe me one day you will wake up with a rabbi”. An inescapable cultural identity.
The perennial Jewish stereotype, which Brooks and, say, Woody Allen are adept at expressing, is uncomfortable, an outsider, the other, feisty, endlessly questioning how you fit in, which then becomes an often humourous commentary on society’s paradigms. All of that familiar schtick.
To an extent it’s still the role God created for the Jewish race by choosing them, and by extension for all believers.
In Amos they have grown way too comfortable. Here the prophet/God takes them astral travelling to look at the neighbouring lands and sees no distinction, no difference. Lolling about, plenty of wine, plenty of food, singing idle songs, living a life of ease. They are insiders, there’s no questioning, the mainstream owns them.
To me the phrase it all seemed to hang off, and about the only direct criticism (there is plenty implied) is that they are “not grieved for the affliction of Joseph”.
Joseph, chosen by God, who was left to die in a hole by his brothers out of resentment. Became a prince in a foreign land but never lost his identity, reviled by his own, by whom grace was poured out and the whole race was saved. A prototype of the Messiah, who would also be despised.
This is the identity God has for us.
Another memory, John White, the great christian psychologist and teacher was asked to give a talk on dealing with stress as a Christian, and he said that if you are doing it right you should expect more stress, not less.
So let me astral travel in prayer to the world around me and let me look for opportunities for difference.