"Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers."
I read this passage and my inner pharisee nods in holier-than-thou approval at the unfolding events; perhaps I'm not alone in my affirmation of Christ's actions?
Let's fast forward two thousand years...If this scenario recurred in modernity, replaying in our "temples" of today, be it First Baptist, First Presbyterian, First Church of the Blessed Mother, what have you, would we be as nonchalant with our endorsement of such extreme measures? Perhaps our heads are still bobbing even as we bring this passage a little closer to home.
But what if, at the heart of the matter and much more to the point, such a purging took place in us? My eyes that previously looked on in self-righteous satisfaction, in ambivalent assent, are suddenly averted as this possibility is brought very close to home indeed.
I find myself squirming a bit as the reminder of 1 Corinthians 6:19 surfaces on the scene:
"Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own."
What tables in this temple would be upended if the High Priest, Jesus Himself, were so inclined? Where am I selling out and misrepresenting the heart of Holy God? How do I rob people of His presence? What in me sullies his Spirit?
Suddenly the speck in the money changers' eye becomes small as the log in my own looms...
And I see with new eyes - my log not withstanding - the profundity of David's prayer, "Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me."* I realize that it is an invitation for Jesus to do just that...to drive out the dross that divides my attention and displaces His deity, to dismantle all that distracts others from the message of Messiah, to pinpoint and purge hypocrisy that hampers His healing in my own and others' lives. To cleanse me from all that clouds our place of precious communion.
My previously pompous posture is deflated to one of deference toward God, who mercifully makes His home in me, and with a humble heart I pray,
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.