Monday, March 21, 2016

Cleaning House

In the final week before the crucifixion Jesus was in no mood for fooling around. These were the last few days and every moment mattered. It makes sense then that we would pay close attention to what he said and what he did with his time.

After arriving in the city to much fanfare from those who knew him, Jesus went to the Temple. It only makes sense that this is the first place he would go; it was the center of all religious activity. More personally, it was his Father's house. Imagine the disappointment he felt when we walked in and found a market place. I am sure that every Israelite who made the pilgrimage felt a similar disappointment. It may even be the same disappointment that seekers of God today feel when they walk into some of our churches.

In his authority Jesus stepped in and chased the marketers out and told everyone who was willing to listen:

"He said to them,'It’s written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you’ve made it a hideout for crooks.'” (Matthew 21:13)

Imagine how he feels about what we have done with his Church, our mentality of marketing, which has turned the Church into big business. We can justify it many different ways but we need to ask ourselves some honest questions about purpose, perspective, power, expectation. Then we need to look at what Jesus did after he cleansed the Temple:

"People who were blind and lame came to Jesus in the temple, and he healed them." (v 14)

In the days to follow Jesus will heal many more people and will teach great spiritual insights in the Temple. Today, we have turned our Churches into social work centers, running food programs, day cares, AA meetings, exercise groups and many other great programs, to show that the Church is relevant today. Yet, we fail to do what Jesus did.

We pray with people as a way of encouraging them, but we don't have people lining up to be healed. They don't come because we don't believe it happens. It is not that they don't believe; we don't believe. God's House, the Church, is no longer a house of prayer, where God moves and miracles happen. We are a place of business, managing our money, and meeting as many needs as we can within our means.

There is a difference between good stewardship and faithless business. People come seeking and they are disappointed with what they find. They are not looking for a group to help them with their hospital bills; they want healing. They are not looking for someone to call in their loneliness; they want the emptiness to be filled with Jesus. They don't want a long list of suicide prevention numbers; they want the spirit of depression to be cast out. They aren't looking for a floor show; they want to see God.

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