Ripening and rosy against a backdrop of blue, the morning sky is curling in and over itself unfolding the beauty of a new day before my very eyes. High above, those wispy, lacy-type clouds are swirling in and out of one another, caught up in a breezy dance scented with a hint of the coming rain.
It really needs to come and wash all this dusty heaviness away.
Unseen and yet unmistakeable, with all that I am, my soul is sensing the rising weight of a spiritual storm building on the horizon. A soul-shaking-and-awakening storm… at least it could be.
There are times when it happens like this. There are moments when there can be no more “business as usual” and something has to give.
Thumbing through my bible I come to one of those moments recorded in Scripture and like this morning’s sky, it curls in and over itself and unfolds into a new slice of beautiful wisdom I hadn’t caught before. But it’s caught me… red handed.
It was “business as usual” in the temple that day. You may know the story: money changers and animal dealers had set up their wares in the temple courts— sort of a “one stop shopping” experience for people to come in and take care of their ritualistic obligation to the law. Certainly, I don’t know the heart or the spirit of all that was taking place that day, but Jesus did and His reaction tells it all:
He’d had enough.
Turning over the tables and tearing through the place with a whip of cords, Jesus drove the profiteers out of the temple with a level of rage and fury that shocked everyone. (John 2: 13-20)
“Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.”
Many were guilty that day. The priests, just doing their job, had laid such heavy burdens upon the backs of the people, who’s hearts had drifted so far from God into a largely ritualistic “get’er done” complacency. These and the traders too, who made a profit off of every exchange in the name of God and lining their pockets with every purchase.
Very little sacrifice. Very little worship. Very little … real.
The focus of this moment tends to be on Jesus’ righteous indignation and divine rage directed at the ungodliness of it all. No doubt about it. Surely, there have been moments all down the line since then where those in Authority over the Assembly have sought to profit one way or another off their Calling under the guise of Godly organization.
If I’m honest, I have to check my own spirit here and recognize the times I’ve come close to doing the same in fact or in spirit. I know the sin has been mine before.
But what God revealed to me anew is that it’s not necessarily an “out there” problem taking place in a building or beneath a denominational label or title. It really wasn’t then and it isn’t now. It’s all about location, location, location.
Jesus’s rage that day in the temple was not only for the obvious mess everyone was making out of God’s covenant, it was because no one could see what He could see: the heart of worship had grown cold, flat and stale and He knew the Father wanted so much more.
Relationship. That’s why He came.
The kicker comes when I recall that the temple is not some place outside of us, It’s within us— within me.. I am the temple of the Holy Spirit and in my soul, is where the Spirit of God resides. It’s where worship and relationship with Him begins and flows from and is then invited to gather with the same Spirit in others each time we meet. At least that’s the way it should be.
Then Jesus comes nearer and points out where…
** I’ve set up short cuts to worship.
** I’ve allowed sin and selfishness to creep in and set up shop too near to God.
** I might be leading others astray or allowing more dependence upon me than God.
** I might be more focused on what’s in it for me versus the glory of God.
Before you know it, He’s using the conviction of His word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit to turn over a few tables inside my heart where I’ve been making subtle and outright exchanges.
Places where my worship has been compromised by pride and contaminated with selfishness.
Or it’s to drive out other things —situations or people who’d set themselves up between me and the true experience of God’s grace.
He’s not always gentle— sometimes He’s jealous and fierce.
I need Him to be and I’m grateful for the times when Jesus comes near to inspect this temple and because He loves me and wants the best for me, He helps me put things in order again….for my good and His glory… and equips me to help others , and myself, face the inevitable storms.
Linking with Lisha