Friday, April 11, 2014

Jesus is my Anger?

My TIE Value: Commit your way to the Lord

     I had the privilege to coach for two days (grades 7-9) at our local Teens Conference that is organized by Ambassadors for Christ East.  One of the hallmarks of this event (besides lives changed by God) is that teens come up with cheers that represent a God focused challenge to follow Him with our lives. My team was “Together.” We had a cheer based on the High School Musical song “Together” about how believers come together under Christ. My son was on “Sheep.” They had a cheer about Jesus being their shepherd.  

     While most teams had songs and cheers, one particular team had a chant that made me chuckle every time I heard it. This team was called “Anchor.” Their chant was about how Jesus is their anchor that keeps their faith stable during life’s storms. However, when 20 teens chant “Jesus is my Anchor” very loudly while jumping up and down it sounded more like “Jesus is my Anger!”

     Matthew 21 came into my mind as I was thinking through some possible lyrics to for a good Christian metal song. This is where Jesus entered into Jerusalem on a donkey to crowds cheering “Hosanna” meaning “God save us!” Jesus’ first order of business is to go to the temple where he cleansed the “Court of the Gentiles” from the money changers and restored that place for prayer and teaching.

     Jesus was intensely angry about the misuse, abuse, and corruption that took over such a sacred space. The money changing was a pyramid scheme that exchanged Roman currency for temple money that could be used for the purchase of sacrifice. The scheme made the priests wealthy. What I see as even worse is that this court was so cluttered with the tools of corruption that there was no space for people to pray or be taught about God. In effect, God was squeezed out of His temple! No wonder Jesus said, “You are making it a ‘den for robbers’” (Matt. 21:13b).

    Whenever I have talked to individuals about the chant in my head, “Jesus is my anger!” The most common reply has been, “Yeah but Jesus has righteous anger.” I know it is easy for us to sin in our anger by being caught up in our own selfish space, but is there anger that brings about God’s righteousness without sinning as we follow Jesus?

My TIE Moment

     I believe the answer is “Yes” but with caution.  In short we are not the instruments of God’s condemnation or wrath, but we can be angry about the unrighteousness that is first in our lives and churches before we can hope to lovingly introduce God’s righteousness to our world. We must commit our ways even anger to the Lord.

What kind of sin must anger us?

     First, we must be angry about sins of deception disguised as righteousness. The religious leaders in Jesus’ day made a big deal about tax collectors that they labeled them as “Sinners” who were beyond God’s reach of salvation. Tax collector gathered money by the governments and charged people on top so they could get paid. What made these people hated was they excessively collected money for their greed and not their need. That is why John the Baptist told the tax collectors to show the fruits of repentance by collecting only what they need (John 3:12-13).  The temple priests ran a similar scheme only they charged people a large mark up in sinful Roman currency to buy temple money that would then be used to purchase sacrifices for their sins. They disguised their inner greed with outer holiness. Which was the largest reason Jesus chastised this group the most when they confronted Him about the sins of the tax collectors.

     We are like the priests when we choose a church for the…
  •           Career network instead of the best community to be equipped and serve God’s Kingdom.
  •          People we like to be with instead of including or reaching the people God loves.
  •          Comfort of our lifestyle instead being in the place where God will transform our lives.  
  •          Having our friends’ back instead of helping them to be restored to holiness.

     And second, we must be angry about sins of clutter that pushes God out of our sacred spaces.   The priests cluttered the “Court of the Gentiles” for the purpose of being more effective in moving people on with their sacrifice. This space was supposed to be purposed for the teaching of God’s Word to all people regardless if they were able to offer a sacrifice.  Jesus daily taught in the temple after He cleansed it. What does this say about Jesus reclaiming space for the purpose of teaching us through prayer and His word?

We are like the priests when we choose to be…
  •          Involved with numerous fun activities at the expense of gaining sound Biblical teaching.
  •          More interested in our own opinions rather than learning sound doctrine.
  •          Clutter in our churches with stuff and programs that there is no room for active prayer.
  •           Busy at church rather than PRESENT with God and His people at Church

     Are we willing to clear the deception and clutter so that God can cleanse our sacred spaces?
I love the strong admonishment that Paul gives us in Colossians 3:1-5a as a way to prepare your room during this Easter Week:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature… (NIV)

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