Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rethink Jesus: Part 2

Last week, I was giving blood and didn’t get to hear the message that Kent preached. So, I went to our church website to listen to the newly added podcast in the series. As with all the messages, I encourage you to listen to them for yourself (especially ones like these that go into deep detail).

As I listened to the message online, I soon realized that I must have missed something interesting. I heard the worship team singing a song and then what seemed to be a conflict of sorts. Apparently, a bunch of people were onstage playing basketball while the band was trying to lead worship. How disrespectful and distracting it was to be disrupting what was supposed to be a time to worship God!

Kent used this very example to talk about the next portion of the “Rethink Jesus” series. He was talking about Jesus going into the temple and overturning tables. I know that sometimes, people get the wrong impression about this. Some even think that maybe Jesus was out of line. Was he? Well, let’s see…..Kent said that if one doesn’t understand why something is being done, one will often make the wrong conclusions about what IS being done. No kidding!! How often do we misinterpret things out of our own ignorance or failure to explore deeper? How often do we jump to conclusions and get the wrong idea about something? So often, we fail to give a person, or circumstance, a fair look and we just take from it what we want. We totally miss the point when we unintentionally (or in some cases, purposefully) fail to see the whole picture and the purpose behind what we see on the surface.

Such is the case with Jesus and the circumstances surrounding his actions in the temple. So many people don’t see the MOTIVE behind it all!! They just think, “Man, he lost his temper! How horrible!!” But, that’s not it at all!! And, as a matter of fact, anger isn’t a sin - particularly if it’s righteous anger (just like in the case with Jesus). Ephesians 4:26-27 says: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” It’s ok to be angry; just watch your reaction. Emotions, including anger, are natural responses to situations that come up in our lives. It’s not a sin to have the emotions; it’s only sin if our emotions produce a bad fruit. That is why the verse warns us not to let the “sun go down” on it. If we don’t let go and move on from our anger quickly, it has a way of sticking with us and becoming a toxic poison that gives Satan the foothold that he wants. He takes that small window of opportunity and uses it to produce more anger, bad attitudes, pride, and all sorts of things - all because we chose to react badly and refused to let go of anger and forgive.

So, understandably, Jesus was rightfully angry about what was being done in God’s holy place of worship. The temple is supposed to be “a house of prayer.” However, the temple was being made into a “den of robbers.” (Mark 11:15-17). Because of all the buying and selling going on in God’s holy temple, people were prevented from going into the temple for the reasons it was built for - to honor and worship God. And, those that were buying and selling were taking advantage of and exploiting the poor. Those simply trying to celebrate the Passover were having a hard time affording the things they needed. And, ironically, all this was being done for “religious” reasons. All the buying and selling was being done in preparation for the Passover feast. And yet, the whole point of Passover was tainted, polluted, and exploited for financial gain. The meaning was becoming lost because it just started being all about the rituals, rules, and capital gain.

It all comes down to the things Kent mentioned: “relationship vs. rules….close vs. distance….love vs. power…..God’s Kingdom will be moved by love and not power.”
The bottom line is, God wants to have a relationship with you. He wants to be close to you. He wants a RELATIONSHIP with you!! God doesn’t want all the superficial rituals and rules of our “religion.” He doesn’t want us to have a shallow faith. He just wants to be with us!! He wants to live in OUR temple; a temple that houses His Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Speaking of us being the temple, Kent reminded us of 1 Corinthians 6:19 which says: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Did you KNOW that? Do you KNOW that your body is a temple for God? Therefore, if you are in Christ and He is in you, shouldn’t you be taking care of the temple in which He dwells? Or, does Jesus need to overturn your tables within? Kent said Jesus had done that to him many times. And, I know he has done it to me. I have not always taken care of my “temple.” I have even hated my temple (and how offensive is that not to love the temple in which God dwells in!!). But, God overturned my tables. He showed me how to love myself the way that He loves me. I am a child of God created in His image and I need to love and respect myself. And, I also need to take care of myself - which is a BIG reason why I decided to lose weight. Those are just a couple of the many examples in which God overturned my tables and gave me a wake-up call to straighten up! I can’t thank Jesus enough for doing that because everything he does (even if it seems “harsh”) if we really look at His motives, it’s all out of LOVE!! The Lord disciplines those that He loves!! (Proverbs 3:12).

So, what’s on your tables in your temple? What do you need to humble yourself about? If you don’t do it, God will do it for you…..and believe me, you don’t want it to have to come to that!! Don’t hold onto your pride so long that Jesus has to really shake you up to wake you up!! But, He will if He has to because He LOVES YOU!!

The Bible says in Psalm 51:16-17: “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” In other words, humble your hearts and be broken before Him. Clean up your temple!! Submit your sacrifices to God - the sacrifice of your heart and not the rules and rituals that mean nothing. Truly give yourself up to him in humble surrender and repentance and He will restore you!!

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