The Real Problem with Privilege

A sermon idea based on Amos 6:1a, 4-7.

Amos 6:1a, 4-7 NRSV

[1] Alas for those who are at ease in Zion, and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,…

[4] Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall; [5] who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music; [6] who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! [7] Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile, and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

Angle

The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…

When we walk in privilege, it’s so easy to ignore how our privilege came at the expense of others, and it’s also so easy to turn a blind eye to those who are struggling and suffering. In short, we lose connection with the purpose of God for our lives and for our world.

Anchor

Information about the text that matters to the message…

Amos was a shepherd, a farmer, a blue-collar worker who could be quite practical in the way he addressed his words to the people that needed them.

In this passage, he utters a word of warning toward those who have become settled and complacent in their comfort and their privilege. He could see that they had totally lost any connection to the real world around them.

That still happens today. Wealth, in and of itself, isn’t evil, but wealth can become a major spiritual hindrance because…

  1. We can remain blissfully ignorant of how wealth has flowed in an upward direction, leaving the poor even poorer still. We will even find it offensive at the suggestion that our comforts came at the expense of anyone else, believing that we’ve earned all that we possess through hard work from a fair system.
  2. We can turn a blind eye to the plight of the poor and to the struggle of those who cannot seem to get any upward footing. We avoid “those” parts of town and stay as disconnected as possible from media that spotlights the struggles of those in poverty.
  3. We can assume that our wealth is God’s blessing and that his purpose for people is purely spiritual rather than seeing just how much of scripture is dedicated to God’s heart for lifting up the broken.

Application

The big call-to-action in the message…

Check your privilege. And if the word “privilege” is offensive to you because of a perceived political agenda, examine your intake of both media and cultural tradition. Then, open your eyes. Look around. Love those who struggle and, where possible, put your own privilege to work on their behalf.

 

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About the Cover Art: Photo by Pedro Sostre on Unsplash.