Dr Martin Luther King often quoted from Amos. In his most famous “I have a dream” speech he quoted Amos 5:24 with these words:
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
They are prescient words even for our times – some of those longings have been fulfilled and others clearly haven’t. As I was researching Amos 5 I came across a liberal theological paper that stated that evangelical Christians like to quote John 3:16 while theological liberals see Amos 5:24 as their clarion call.
They are not mutually exclusive. It’s not that evangelicals should just seek salvations using John 3:16 and ignore the need for social justice. Amos warns that God hates our noisy worship if it is not accompanied by social justice. James tells us that if our faith doesn’t have works it is dead. Our changed hearts, our clean hearts lead to a desire to get dirty hands and feet as we get stuck in. People need to be fed physical bread and the bread of life!