Friday, June 17, 2011

Overturning Tables

Several of the Gospel writers record a very similar account of a particular event in the life of Jesus.  Matthew 21 is my favorite account of the story.  Jesus has just rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the people shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the Highest!" As he enters, obviously drawing a crowd, He goes straight to his "Father's House," the Temple. Upon entering He does something He must have wanted to do since he was a boy astonishing the teachers with his wisdom.  He turns over the moneychangers' tables and begins to admonish them, quoting from the book of Isaiah 56:7, "MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE PEOPLES!" but, "you have turned it into a robber's den!" Then He does something that seems to make the Scribes and Chief Priests even more upset.  He heals the lame and the blind in the temple.  He also accepts praise from a group that his own disciples once tried to get rid of and many today wrongly believe should be seen but not heard in church, the children! While Jesus gladly accepted the praise of those who were the least in society, who had the fewest rights and who were the most helpless, the priests where indignant that He would not only disrupt business as usual in the temple, but then allow these undesirables to give praise to Him right in the temple court.

I understand why this was so unsettling for the priests and Sadducees and Scribes working in the temple.  They did not understand who Jesus was, or why he had come.  They had not experienced his saving grace or accepted his free gift of forgiveness of sin.  The church today, however, knows and understands all of those things, so surely we would never react the way the Chief Priests did toward anyone who was seeking to worship the Savior? While most of us would be quick to answer, "No, of course we wouldn't," I came across a news story that demonstrates a church that did just that in the name of "distraction free worship." All this family sought to do was worship on Easter Sunday morning, the church should be the one place that the family of a special needs child should be able to come and feel loved, accepted, and wanted, not feel like a burden or an inconvenience. There should be no one excluded from worship, but all should be freely allowed to come and express in whatever way they are able their praise and honor to the Lord.

What is it that you are doing to make sure that your church is, "A house of prayer for all people?" What is your congregation doing to allow the "Little children" to come to Jesus? What are we, as God's people doing to reach out to those in our society who are the most hopeless and helpless and who have no voice?  Are we defending them, accepting them, loving them as Jesus did, or are we ignoring them and turning the other way in the name of connivence?