Is there ever a time to be righteously angry?
Generate passion and encourage appropriate anger about the injustices all around us. Have us turn the tables.
We will look at anger, Jesus’ anger in the temple, turning the tables on injustices, church finances and Jesus’ method of non-literal teaching.
Ought Christians ever get angry? John 2:13-25 reveals that Jesus got angry. He turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple. The Old Testament mentions God’s anger a lot, mainly referring to his indignation at evils caused by humanity. Proverbs also recommends strongly against a quick temper and avoiding friendships with people who are impatiently angry by nature. Jesus also condemned unjust anger in the Sermon on the Mount and when it is justified Paul recommended not allowing it to last beyond sunset. Even modern psychology recognizes the wisdom of that advice. A quick temper can disqualify a person from church leadership. Jesus’ anger in the temple showed his passion for the one place where prayer ought not to be overshadowed. Church ought to be a place of refuge from the questionable practices of the market.
What do the money changers in the temple (John 2:13-25) teach us about the church and money? As a group once toured Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome someone in the crowd asked their priest tour guide how much it cost. His reply was that it cost much of northern Europe. He referred of course to the selling of indulgences under Tetzel as a fundraiser for reconstruction and a cause of the Protestant Reformation. Financial abuse has occurred throughout history and the church has not been immune. When denominational officials take more from local churches than the tithe of the tithe taken by Moses, then one wonders why the New Testament church is more burdensome than the Old. When popes and televangelists live in palaces while others starve at their doorsteps, one wonders what happened to the religion of Jesus.
Money Changers at Church
I visited a church once where there was a guest speaker. He had his videos, books and CD’s on the back table for sale after church complete with credit card machine. It reminded me of the money changers in the temple (John 2:13-25). I was offended. The money changers had good motives. People needed to buy sacrifices for the daily offerings. The problem was that it took the focus away from the purpose of church. It seems sometimes that too much of church life is about money-making. It seems that there is always someone trying to make money off of us, usually for good causes in far away places. Yet it is off-putting. It seems that church is sometimes overly focused on money and not faith. Would Jesus likewise upturn our efforts and have us focus more on prayer?
Jesus not Literally
Ought not Christians take the Bible literally? Some teach so. Yet in John 2:13-25 Jesus taught the Pharisees a lesson that was not meant to be taken literally. They took him literally, when they should have understood that he was teaching figuratively. They asked for a sign of his authority. He replied, destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. Of course they thought that he meant the literal temple that had taken forty six years to construct. However, he was speaking of his body, which was raised three days after his crucifixion. Even his disciples did not grasp the full significance of this saying until after his death. In fact a large part of what Jesus taught was not literal, but metaphor, parable and hyperbole. We understand Jesus by his intent not literal interpretations.
Are we passionate and even appropriately angry about the injustices all around us? Are we angry enough to get involved and turn the tables on injustices?