Why Does Jesus Have To Mess Things Up?
Everyone says Jesus does great stuff for us but I have some doubts. Sometimes he just doesn’t understand the great things we are doing for him.
We have systems we have established and they suit us. We have built an ideal structure to serve our purposes and it works for us. We don’t see anything wrong with it and we love the way it benefits and reinforces our position and status. It’s true that some people complain about what we do and the way we do it but they just need to accept that this is how it needs to be. We have the authority on our side, we make the rules and so naturally we get some benefits.
So why does Jesus have to mess things up? Why can’t he just leave us alone to get on with keeping things running smoothly and pleasing God our way?
It didn’t take Jesus long to irritate the establishment guys after he made his grand entry into Jerusalem. The common people welcomed him but the guys who ran things realized that he was nothing but trouble. Sure enough, he couldn’t resist messing with the established order. He dared to go to the Temple and create a scene. He took issue with how they had set up their smooth operations.
They had taken care to set up a system so that people would find it easy to worship God. People had to come a long distance to visit the Temple and to make it easier they provided “convenience stores” in the Temple courtyard. Convenience costs so the charges reflected the need to cover costs and make some profit (it was small amounts of profit to begin with but it grew as time went by. ) Oh sure, some people complained a bit about the prices and others objected to the low quality but that’s just the way it is with people; you can never please them all.
Well what does that old event have to do with us today. We don’t have a Temple and we don’t sell sacrifices any more. But we do have “systems” which we’ve set up and justify by saying they help people. They also help us and that’s where the problems begin. It doesn’t take long for us to distort our “help” for others so that we become the main beneficiaries. Most times we’re not so crass that we do it with taking monetary profits – there are other ways to benefit. We take profit by way of building our status and reputation. What we don’t get in money we get in boosted pride. We build bigger buildings and flashier ministries and before long we have set up a system that needs to be fed and maintained. We say it is for God and God’s work but it goes far beyond the requirements of simple worship. Convenience costs and so does our monolithic empire. Money that could be spent on effective ministry gets sucked up in mortgages and maintenance, our pastors and staff spend their time rushing after material things and there is no time for the spiritual support we promised to deliver. Our churches become political animals demanding constant feeding and support. We feel good about the wonderful ministries we have created but Jesus shakes his head.
Face it, we so easily lose the trail. We set out to serve God and end up serving stuff; we pitch ideals about helping people but they get forgotten as our focus moves to physical objects and esteem. We begin with a desire to serve God’s people but we end up needing them to serve us.
No one is more amazed to hear that we are no longer serving God than us. We get hurt by such suggestions and we leap to our own defense but the reality is that we have little of lasting value to show for our efforts. Self-service and bondage to material items rob us of our impact. Our temporal gains don’t stand the test of eternity and crumble away.
Jesus got too drastic! He busted up the Temple convenience stores, and held an embarrassing demonstration by angrily yelling, “My house will be called a house of prayer but you have made it a den of robbers!”
What he meant was that his plan for ministry was to connect people with God, teaching and facilitating communication and relationship with God. Instead, the religious hot shots had made ministry all about themselves and their profits; they didn’t give a rip about connection with God (despite what they said) and instead made the people their victims and took whatever they could offer to serve their own ends.
Understandably, the establishment guys took umbrage at his accusations and the way he messed up their convenience stores. He was challenging the established order and this riled them. They could have considered what he said and changed what they did but instead they rejected his accusation and seethed with humiliation and anger. This was the wrong response.
What would he do with most of our ministries today? Do they serve the purpose of connecting people to God or have they become an end in themselves? If we lost all our assets would we also lose our ministries?
Posted on April 4, 2012, in Active faith and tagged Christianity, church, effective ministry, materialism, People, pride, Religion and Spirituality, serving God, Temple. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.