July 16, 2018
By Andrew Page.
Drew Page is the News & Media Editor for the Connecticut Conference, UCC and co-dean for week 4 at Silver Lake Conference Center.
This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb-line.’ Then the Lord said,
‘See, I am setting a plumb-line
in the midst of my people Israel;
I will never again pass them by;
the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’
The plumb line, or plumb bob, is a tool invented by the Egyptians over 4000 years ago. In Amos’ time, it would be a common tool, certainly to a shepherd and farmer like him. The tool, still used today, is a weight with a string attached. When hung from a point, it draws a perfectly vertical line to the ground. Egyptians, and everyone since, used this straight line to create vertical posts and walls, to measure tracts of land, even to measure the stars. It was a reference to which many other objects and circumstances could be measured.
And God told Amos he was setting one in the midst of the Israelites. I’ll admit, I’m no engineer, so I have no idea how that would help destroy the kingdom of Jeroboam.
But the idea of God placing a plumb line amidst the people is just awesome.
In our day, it is getting awfully difficult to find a reference in life. We are bombarded with bias. We see and hear news from organizations that do not seem capable of sharing only facts (or even any facts). We surround ourselves with like-mindedness, hiding in a comfortable din of words and ideas that we can relate with. Even when we struggle to free ourselves from these preferred quagmires, we escape into an unfamiliar space with no arrows or signs telling us which way to go.
How cool would it be to have a vision in which God says, “Here’s your plumb bob. Just use this as a reference, and you’ll be fine.”
Jesus was that reference, some will say? The bible shows is the perfectly straight line, others will say. Well, says my cynical side, that was a long time ago, the stories skewed by ages and ages. Is the Jesus Line — those acts and words written down by men hundreds of years ago, translated in many languages, often dozens of times — as perfectly straight as a plumb line?
Here’s the thing about a plumb line – if you build a post with a plumb line, the post will be straight, perhaps not perfectly vertical, but very, very close. Once straightened, that post can serve as a reference for something else. Each straight post can serve to create another.
Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Okay, I can do that; that is a line I can follow. In fact, I can do more than follow. As this devotion gets published, I will be at Silver Lake, deaning a 7th and 8th grade conference. Perhaps I can try to be a plumb line for some of those kids. Imperfect as I am, I can try to be a reference to them, a guide to helping them understanding the Jesus Line – to love rather than hate, to care rather than ignore. Maybe those around me — my co-dean and wife, Debby, and my wonderful counselors — can also be models of the Jesus Line. And when those kids return home, they too can be a reference – helping others find the Jesus Line.
Maybe God only ever needed the one plumb line. The rest is on us.
Holy God, you have shown us the way through Jesus Christ. Thank you. We’ll take it from here.
Starting With Scripture: July 16, 2018 , by Andrew Page.