'The Plumb Line and the City': sculpture by Clark Fitzgerald in Coventry Cathedral.
God on Monday
The Lord was standing beside a wall…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 amid my people Israel’ (Amos 7.7-8).
Amos was an ordinary agricultural worker who looked after sheep and nurtured sycamore trees. But he felt God’s righteous indignation stir within him when he witnessed the opulence and extravagance of those who made themselves rich at the expense of the poor. As a result of this injustice, the rich were sleeping in grand beds inlaid with ivory whilst the poor experienced deprivation and misery.
One day, Amos sees the vision recalled above. Despite our technological superiority to Amos’ times, plumb lines are still used in the construction industry. This is because they are always accurate – even if we make one ourselves from a stone and a piece of string. Plumb lines cannot but expose what is crooked. This, Amos is saying, is just like the ways of God – they are utterly straight and reliable.
God’s plumb line still hangs over every area of life. It is as inescapable and unfathomable as the gravity that accounts for a plumb line’s precision. For, as Issac Newton proposed, gravity is a force we cannot escape; and as Stephen Hawking conceded, gravity is something we do not fully understand. We do know that gravity is constant, tugging at a weight to make the line on which it hangs absolutely straight, and utterly reliable. This is just what we need to make sure the lives we build for ourselves, and the institutions we build with others, are straight and sound.
There is no need to accept the crooked ways that are so often suggested to us, either by our inner selves or by those around us. Taking a path that is straight and true is possible because of the way God has wired the world. When people follow that way – whether they believe in God or not – everything lines up and works the way it should.
I will proclaim the name of the Lord. I will ascribe greatness to our God, the rock! His work is perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God, without deceit. Just and upright is he (based on Deuteronomy 32.3-4).
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Peter Heslam, Director of Faith in Business
God on Monday is produced in partnership with the Church of England. The reflections are based on the scriptural readings designated for the coming Sunday in the Church's lectionary. You can sign up to Faith in Business here to receive each God on Monday instalment.
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