They do not know how to do right, says the LORD, those who store up violence and robbery in their strongholds. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: An adversary shall surround the land, and strip you of your defense; and your strongholds shall be plundered. (Amos 3:10-11)Very often, we are tempted to think of Christ in only terms of brother, friend, shepherd, king, Lord... maybe even judge. Today's reading however sparked my thinking about Christ as adversary.
Amos came bearing the word of the Lord unto the people in an age of great prosperity and expansion under the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.). Amos preached against over reliance on military might, the injustice done to poor and outcast, and grave immorality. Just read the second chapter of Amos. Judah and Israel do not come off looking good at all. Amos proclaims in the midst of such a world that it is God's might that will prevail, not Israel's human might.
In this season of Advent, as we read of Christ's coming in the clouds, we might be left thinking that Christ comes to take away those very folks who store up violence and robbery. And that is so... however we too must see ourselves in the same boat. Insofar as we are complicit with the powers that seek to take others' lives, to not protect our neighbor's property, we are the very same ones. Christ comes to surround us, strip away our defenses, and plunder our strongholds.
And this should be heard as good news. For when Christ comes to us, he desires that we live. Our reliance on power and might must die. Our consumption of goods, services, food, resources of the earth must cease. All of the ways that our fallen, sinful self participates in the brokenness of the world must taste death; a death meted out by our adversary, Christ. But this Christ, our adversary, is also the adversary who is our Lord. Our Lord is not the violent rampaging Mars, or the Invisible Hand of the Market, but the very Lord of Life, who comes that we might die, so he might raise us up to new life.
Even as an adversary, Christ does not work the way the world would. In the world the adversary seeks to crush and destroy its opponents. Christ seeks only to crush and destroy so that he might raise up and redeem, thereby showing his love and power are what will rule in the end.