There’s a well-known story in the New Testament of Jesus driving moneychangers from the temple. It’s one of the times where Jesus is truly angry, and he takes action. Anyway, I have always kind of taken it as a given that the merchants in the temple were no good, very bad people. But in a sermon a few weeks ago, the pastor said that they were most likely just trying to make things convenient for the worshippers. It would be easier for a person needing to make a sacrifice to be able to take care of things all in one place. It most likely started out as a good thought. (How can we serve our people?) But like fingers on a keyboard, there was something out of place. When Jesus comes into the temple, he tosses the place upside down, but he sets things right.
The lesson: We are told that our bodies are the temple now. So when you feel like things are being tossed around, thrown out, and messed up…it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It may just be a sign that Jesus is cleaning up his house and setting things right again. That thought lines up with something I think is true. Holiness, Christ-likeness, is not something that happens overnight. It is a lifelong goal. And if we become complacent in that journey, we can start taking advantage of convenient ways of thinking or living that may not be bad…but are out of place in the temple. So when the Jesus in us wakes up and takes a look around, he may have some spiritual spring cleaning to do. But like all other cleaning and reorganization…things get messy before they get neat. But once things are cleared out, it all feels bright and new again. That’s a happy thought.
I read Rob Bell’s newest book earlier this week. I read it in one night 1) because I couldn’t put it down and 2) because it was a library book…I wanted to make sure it was worth keeping and re-reading before I got one of my own. (I’m trying to be better with money and books.) Suffice it to say, that Amazon will be hearing from me very soon. And this is one of the ideas in the book that gripped my heart and mind.
The last supper. Jesus takes bread and wine. Breaks it, pours it out, offers it to his disciples, and says, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Bell reminded me in the book that this was a picture of what was to come on the cross: Jesus body is broken and his blood is poured out for the healing of the world. But then Bell expanded the picture. Because just as our body is a temple…Christians called the body of Christ. Bell quoted Paul who says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”…”We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
The lesson: Being broken and poured out should be a way of life. As we give of ourselves for others, we can be a picture of Christ and help people find healing. When we love people who are hard to love. When we give to people who have a need. When we are patient with those who fray our nerves. When we hold our tongues when we have choice words to say. When we stand up and do the right thing even when it’s the hard thing. It costs us something. It’s not comfortable. It’s not convenient. But it’s good and right, and as Paul reminds us, “Our light and momentary troubles are working for us a weight in glory that far outweighs them all.” By being broken and poured out, we’re living in remembrance of him.
It also brings to mind the word “compassion.” I’ve heard the most powerful sermon in the world is two words: “Me too.” To quote a bit of Rob Bell’s book:
Me too. When you’re struggling, when you are hurting, wounded, limping, doubting, questioning, barely hanging on, moments away from another relapse, and somebody can identify with you – someone knows the temptations that are at your door, somebody has felt the pain that you are feeling, when someone can look you in the eyes and say, “Me too,” and they actually mean it – it can save you.
I think this is why we’re told that God uses our weaknesses for his glory. Because it’s where we have scars and struggles and pain, and yet we make it through, we keep walking, we hold our heads high, we function from a place peace and joy even if our hearts are hurting, and even when we question and don't understand and have to lean heavily on faith because not much else makes sense….that’s what people need to see. They need to know that they’re not alone. That they can make it. That there’s a hope. And for those of us who know Jesus, we should take every chance we have to share the hope that we’ve found. To say “me too.” Life sucks sometimes. I know what you’re feeling. But there’s more. Let me cry with you. Let me walk with you. And let me introduce you to the God who loves you. So then you can say with me, “Me too.” I’m whole, forgiven, broken, tossed, reordered…free. Me too.