Every week, during our Sunday evening service, we highlight a specific Christian facing persecution, or an area in which persecution is experienced. In a country like South Africa, which enjoys relative freedom of religion and religious worship, we can easily forget that Christians around the world do not enjoy the freedoms we do. It is important to keep these needs before us.
Of course, the open, violent persecution that we do not typically face in South Africa does not minimise all the other types of opposition that we do experience out of fidelity to the gospel. Paul assured his readers that allegiance to Christ would certainly, in one form or another, invite opposition (2 Timothy 3:12).
It can be difficult to know how to respond when we are opposed for our faithfulness to Christ, particularly when, as was the case with Amaziah’s accusations against Amos, our opponents misrepresent us. But Amos’s response is helpful. Specifically, it is helpful in that it shows us two ways to respond to unjust criticism because of our faith.
First, Amos responded by remembering God’s calling (vv. 14–15). He had not signed up to be a prophet. He had not inherited a prophetic gift. He had not studied at prophecy school. He had been a simple shepherd-farmer when Yahweh had called him and given him the task of prophesying. Stopping was not an option because it was something that God had clearly called him to.
You may not immediately resonate with Amos’s call to prophesy but, if you are a Christian, you do share something of his experience. As a believer in Christ, you did not choose to follow Christ without his prior intervention in your life. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (John 15:16).
As one who has been chosen and sealed by God, you have the strength to persevere. When you face opposition for your faith, you can look back at your conversion, observing God’s grace in your life, and take encouragement to persevere through the suffering. Opposition will not cause you to abandon your faith if you reflect on the fact that God chose and saved you.
Second, Amos responded by believing and declaring God’s word (vv. 16–17). Amaziah had misrepresented what Amos had preached and had strongly suggested that Amos leave. Bethel, which means “house of God,” was no longer God’s house but “the king’s sanctuary, and a temple of the kingdom” (vv. 12–13). God’s word was unwelcome in that place.
Amos did not shy away in embarrassment. He did not agree to remain silent to keep the peace. Instead, he responded, “Now therefore hear the word of the LORD,” and, “Therefore thus says the LORD” (vv. 16–17). He believed that God’s word carried authority and was true regardless of the opposition that it invited. He therefore held firm to and boldly preached the word that God gave to him.
When we face opposition for our allegiance to the truth, we must not allow the opposition to sway our allegiance. God’s truth remains true whether it is embraced or rejected. It did not matter what Amaziah thought or threatened. God’s truth remained his truth and Amos believed and declared that truth as a means to persevering through opposition.
As South African Christians, we may not face the open opposition that North Korean believers, for example, experience. But God’s truth is never popular among those who reject his authority. It will certainly invite opposition. When we are opposed, we must know how to respond.
As you reflect on Amos 7:10–17 this morning, ask God for grace to respond wisely and boldly to opposition. Remember your calling. Believe God’s truth. Then declare that truth, trusting God to vindicate his truth before his enemies.