Unpredictable.

March 4th, Sunday Readings.

Turn the other cheek. Pray for you enemies. Forgive 70 times 7 times. Based on so many img_4553of Jesus’ teachings it would be easy to believe that Jesus’ main message was, “Be excellent to each other.”

Sunday’s gospel where Jesus makes a rope out of cords, flips tables, and clears the temple seems, well, out of place with nice guy Jesus. Doesn’t this “Bruce Banner” Jesus hurt his over Hulk1all nice guy image? Yes. Thank God.

Jesus is unpredictable because he didn’t come to teach us how to be nice. Jesus’ mission isn’t to civilize us or to fix our bad behavior. Jesus didn’t come to make us nice, he came to make us live. His actions in the temple aren’t nice, but they are good. Jesus clears the way for the poor and gentile to get closer to the Temple, to get closer to God.

Jesus isn’t just a nice guy, but he also isn’t an angry brute either. If I had done Jesus actions in the temple, I would have done them out of anger or maybe even revenge. I’ve always thought that Jesus was filled with righteous anger, but where does it say Jesus was angry? No, Jesus acts not out of anger, but out of love – love for those who feel like they can’t get close to God.

This story teaches us that Jesus isn’t nice or angry, but he is willing to do anything to clear a path between us and God. Jesus isn’t satisfied with us at a distance.

LIVE IT:
Name one thing that keeps you at a distance from God. Name it and figure out how you are going to let Jesus remove it this week.

Destroyed

Nov. 13th Sunday Readings.

A month ago I had some relatives come in town and we took them down to check out us_bank_stadium_-_west_facadethe new Viking’s stadium. We were all impressed with the size, shape, materials, design, and creativity of US Bank Stadium. The kids vacillated between ooh-ing, ahhh-ing, and silently staring up at the monumental structure. “Wow” was the most common word associated with this architectural marvel.

I recently heard this quote about about another stadium – “I haven’t found a thing yet that I don’t like about this place.” Quite the endorsement. So who said it? Jim Lemon the hitting coach for the Minnesota metrodome4Twins…in 1982 after he first toured the Metrodome.

As amazing as the Metronome was in 1982, by the time I got to Minnesota in 1998 everyone seemed to be talking about how wretched it was and how it should be torn down. And as amazing as US Bank Stadium is now, there will come a time when fans will want to replace it too (provided we have football – I hope someone is reading this article in 2051 and laughing).

In the gospel this weekend the crowd is enamored with how well adorned the Temple was with costly stones and votive offerings. They marveled at the size and majesty of the Temple. Jesus warns them that as amazing as the Temple is, it will be destroyed (which actually happens in 70 AD). This would have shocked those who heard Jesus because the Temple was God’s house. The Temple was the center of his community’s religious and political life. The destruction of the Temple meant the end of the world as they knew it. Wasn’t he supposed to save them? Why was he forecasting their doom?

The reality is that Jesus didn’t come to save things the way they are or to save the things we think are important. Jesus came to save us. For that to happen, it might mean that world as we know it is destroyed. For Jesus to save us, it may mean that the things we love the most that aren’t God must crumble.

For us this means that have an opportunity to examine the things we hold tight. Whether we like it or not, there are things to which we are unhealthily attached. Part elgreco_thecrucifixionof our job as Christians is to detach ourselves from the things we love more than God, to literally let our Temples crumble while seeking a deeper and more profound relationship with Jesus.

Need inspiration? The disciples walked the earth with Jesus of Nazareth for 3 years and, at the end, watched him die on a cross. They had to watch the man they thought would save them and their country be executed by the government that was oppressing them. It was only when the Holy Spirit came upon them in the upper room were they truly able the let God’s will be done.

Come Holy Spirit.

LIVE IT:

Find a quiet time to pray this simple prayer:

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.