One thing that all politicians have in common is the intense desire for supporters. In fact, supporters keep them in the political game, which explains why most people who aspire to leadership positions spend resources lobbying for supporters and retaining them.
There seems to be something in our human nature that urges us to relate more with the people who tell us “what we want to hear” than those who tell us “what we need to hear.” But, unfortunately, those who say what we need to hear often speak the truth, and most people would rather believe lies than hear the truth.
In the Book of the Prophet Amos (7:12-15), we read about the attack of the priest Amaziah on the Prophet Amos who was on a mission from the South (Judah) of the divided Kingdom to the North (Israel) during the wicked reign of King Jeroboam II (See 2 Kings 14:23-24).
King Jeroboam appointed Amaziah to function as a priest in the national temple. However, the appointment was political, not divine. So, the only way he could remain in office as the Kingdom priest was to tell the king what he wanted to hear, everything that would make him feel good and satisfied, including false oracles.
The “Amaziah” Syndrome
When the Prophet Amos showed up with the authentic word of God for the Northern Kingdom, Amaziah could not hold his peace. He saw Amos as a competition and bitterly rebuked him, saying:
Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah! There earn your bread by prophesying, but never again prophesy in Bethel; for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.
Amos gives a very modest reply by attesting that he is just a shepherd and a part-time fruit farmer called by God to the prophetic vocation. He comes to speak God’s words to the people about the things that would happen in the Kingdom, including the destruction of the people and the high places and a siege in the household of Jeroboam (Amos 7: 8-9).
From the priest’s attitude toward Amos the prophet, we could see that the Amaziah syndrome pays attention to man instead of God. It is about working for the pay and not for the passion for the Lord. The Amaziah syndrome focuses on what would make the people relax in sin, not what would release them from sin. It is all about the fight for royal favors instead of the advancement of divine fraternity and fellowship.
The Amaziah syndrome takes what belongs to God and turns it into a mundane possession. Notice from the words of the priest Amaziah, Bethel, which should be the House of God, became the king’s sanctuary and the royal temple. The temple is not hallowed by the king’s usage but by the divine presence.
Responding to the “Amos” Mandate
The flip side of the Amaziah syndrome is what we shall understand here as the “Amos” mandate. We realize that Amos was called directly by God and sent to fulfill the prophetic vocation from the narrative.
In the Gospel of Mark (6:7-13), Jesus summoned the twelve apostles he had called earlier and sent them out in pairs to preach repentance and gave them authority over unclean spirits. However, he also charged them to go only with a walking stick and a sandal, stay wherever they are welcomed, and depart where they are not accepted.
The Amos mandate involves an effective response to the divine invitation to become a helpful instrument in advancing the Kingdom of God. Thus, the Amos mandate is not a political construct like that of Amaziah sponsored by a self-aggrandizing leader.
It is a task for the Lord that does not pay attention to what one could gain. Remember that Jesus instructed the twelve to take nothing for the journey. It also means that they should not be concerned about material benefits. Notice that he required them to give by preaching repentance and exercising authority over unclean spirits.
They are not to worry about material provisions because they have comprehensive divine coverage. In fact, St. Paul made it more eloquent in his letter to the Ephesians (1:3-14), where among other things, he says that God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens and in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.
The Amos mandate leaves us with another lesson which is fellowship in the work of God. Notice again that Jesus did not send them out individually but in pairs, unlike the Amaziah syndrome that seeks to be a lone voice and sees competition in any other individual. Ecclesiastes (4:9-10) says:
Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. If they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help.
The Amos mandate is open to all the baptized who share in the prophetic office of Christ. We are expected to spread the Good News far and near leveraging one of the departure instructions of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone” (Mark 16:15).
While spreading the Good News, we are expected to tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Hence, we should, like Amos, speak the truth regardless of whom it hurts. We cannot afford to please the “Jeroboams” around us while displeasing the almighty God and creator of all things.
God bless you as you continue to respond to the Amos mandate!