We invite congregation members to provide submissions directly to the office at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 3:00 pm.
Ever since the time of Genesis, builders and carpenters have relied on tools to complete their jobs. A tool is essentially a device used to carry out a function. Often, a tool will enable a user to do a task they otherwise couldn’t, or the tool will at least make it easier for that task to be completed. Take, for instance, a ruler. A ruler allows a carpenter precision in measuring the size of an object in order to replicate it.
Well, tools have come a long way since Genesis, some have stood the test of time. One such tool is a plumb bob. A plumb bob consists of a weight (plumb bob) tied to a long string (plumb line), and it is used to create a vertical reference line, usually for walls. In ancient times, after completing a wall, a worker would stand on top of the new wall and lower the plumb bob down until it reached the ground. Since the bob was heavy, the string it was tie to would become “taut,” or tight, thus creating a perfectly straight line down the wall. And, with a taut plumb line, another worker could see if the new wall was “to plumb” (that is, straight).
So, while a plumb bob is useful for walls, Amos showed us how it had other purposes. In a vision to Amos, God stood beside a wall built with a plumb line (Amos 7). God then tells Amos, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel” (verse 8). In other words, God was standing next to a wall representing Israel. Israel had been built straight and flawless by God, yet their sin had caused them to become “crooked.” Therefore, by comparing Israel’s crookedness (condition) with God’s “plumb” (perfect) design, God grew angry with their sin and was ready to Israel fall over.
So, I personally enjoy working with tools, and the tool I probably use the most is a plumb bob. Oddly enough though, I have never built a wall, nor do I even own a plumb bob. Yet, whenever I read the news, whenever I go to the store, whenever I see other people and their actions, I am subconsciously holding a plumb bob. I am holding a plumb bob to these people or ideas, wondering if they are “to plumb” with my standards or expectations. And, whenever the people or ideas are not, I am tempted to judge them as “crooked” or sinful. Well, in all reality, I may be correct in my judgement, but then I forget how many of those same people are holding a plumb bob to me (and who knows whether I am “to plumb” in their eyes or not).
Plumb bobs are indeed useful tools. They provide a handy reference for making things “to plumb.” But, based on Amos 7, if God were to examine our plumb lines, especially the ones we hold to others, He will find how our lines are not fully “taut;” our lines, unlike His, are crooked to begin with. In other words, the standards we set for others fall far short of the standards He sets for us. The perfectly taut line that revealed Israel’s crookedness will also reveal our own. Now, if a wall is crooked and remains so, it will eventually come down. The wall must be therefore be straightened to remain standing. Indeed, God is not pleased with a crooked wall, but He also does not like to leave it that way; He wants that wall standing straight again. And the only way to do this is with a taut plumb line. So, out of His loving mercy, God sent His Son, Jesus, to make us perfectly straight again. He sent Jesus to die and rise for us so that, through His forgiveness, we can be made to plumb again.
Therefore, if Jesus’ forgiveness makes us to plumb, imagine how our forgiveness could make others to plumb. The same forgiveness that bring us life and salvation can also be given to others through us. Maybe our plumb lines then are not sufficient for the job; maybe we need Jesus to do that for us instead.