September 30, 2010

Table Flipping

For the next little while at Quest (youth group) we are looking at the Gospel of John. We have been at this for three weeks or so now, and we just looked at the story where Jesus clears out the temple. You know the story; Jesus comes into town at Passover, takes a look around at the temple, he sees the money changers and the offering sellers have set up shop in the courtyard. Jesus gets mad, very mad, he flips tables, and drives the livestock out of the area with a home made whip shutting down operations at least for a little while.

My understanding of the story is that Jesus is mad for two reasons, people are being blocked from being able to encounter God and the people who are coming with a desire to serve and worship God are being exploited. When I thought about what I wanted the teens to walk away from with this narrative I realized I wanted to use this as a platform to apologize.

You see it was the religious elite of the day that either set up or endorsed the temple flee market. Through their actions people who where either curious about God or desiring to worship God where being mistreated, gouged and shut out. I think it is fair to say that we can be accused of this same thing today.

When I was a kid reading the bible I identified with the heroes, I really saw myself as part of their legacy. As a teen and younger adult I started noticing my behaviour more closely resembled that of the Israelites than that of the heroes. I whined, complained and disobeyed far more than I ever did anything that could be considered heroic. As I have gotten a little older still I am becoming more aware that I can look a heck of a lot more like Jesus' opponents than Jesus on any given day. Obviously it looks different, I have never forced anyone to buy their sacrificial pigeons from me. But I think I have had conversations with people where I take a tone that says 'disagree with my view point and you are disagreeing with God'.

I suspect I am not the only one who has done something that put off a person who either wanted to draw near and learn about God, or draw near and worship God. If I did that to you, let me say to you as well; I am sorry. I know there are still some tables in my life that need a good flipping. Maybe you have some too. If I let Jesus flip mine, and you let him flip yours I think we will get a little closer to being the kind of people that God wants us to be. The kind who draws people near to him, not repeals them. The kind of people that facilitates peoples desires to serve and worship not exploits them. On my best days I am that person. God willing I will be him more often.