Jesus’ “cleaning” of the Temple is often focused on how the Jews “corrupted” the House of God. There is truth in it. The scary part is that it often seems to be a, “look at them” moment, rather than what it should be, “look at us”. On top of that, the last 2 verses in this chapter of John are often skipped in the Lectionary (from which each day’s Scriptures are determined). They, too, are “look at me”. In fact, these last 2 verses fit very well with the passage from 1 Corinthians, and even Exodus, so I added them to today’s readings.
We usually look at the 10 Commandments as a list of don’ts. The 10 Commandments can also be looked at as a list that makes us different. Culturally, the commandments regarding the proper worship of God set the Israelites apart from those around them.
This carried forward. What Jesus did? It was not totally outside of the norm for the Israelites, insofar as the history and heritage of prophets. The prophets were known to do odd and strange things, as we are told the disciples remembered.
As Paul notes, the oddness of Christianity then goes beyond the oddness of Judaism, to the point where Jews and Gentiles struggle with it. For anyone with a heart for those who don’t Jesus, this is a hard and brutal truth.
We US Christians have a particular struggle with this. We were so accustomed to a cultural majority (almost superiority) that we are only slowly beginning to see our “strangeness”. Many of us are negatively responding to what we believe was “the way” of “our” country.
We had “all” the cards. We had the opportunity to plant the seeds that would develop into a Christian nation. Instead, we deceived ourselves with a masquerade. As we face our mortality in Lent, perhaps we should face the mortality of the Christian nation that we have held onto for so long.
Also, it is hard to ignore the mortality of the church as we have understood it for so long. The church—the bride of Christ—is just fine. Half of the US church is bedridden. The other half is prepping the fields for planting.
- What ways have you found being a Christian “strange” in comparison to non-Christians?
- When you read the Scriptures, do you focus on “them” rather than “us”?
Lord, you have called us to change from working in submission to Holy Spirit and being the Spirit-infused influencers of the world. Amen.