The only thing that made Jesus angry was religion. More specifically, empty religion practiced by those who thought their adherence made them better than everyone else. A religion that took great pride in its moral code. A religion that made Him guilty of sin by His association with those who didn’t keep the moral code. He called the Pharisees, “whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Those are strong words. Check out Matthew 23 for a few more choice words.
The only thing that made Jesus violent was the corruption of the temple of God by greed and gain, by buying and selling in the place reserved for worship and reverence. He saw how they profited from those who were simply trying to worship God, and it angered Him to the point of physical force. By His actions, Jesus showed how seriously God takes those who would take advantage of the poor and vulnerable in the name of service to Him.
How must He feel about what He sees in His temple today? We have turned the church of Jesus Christ into a program to marketed, a product to be sold, a religion to be practiced.
Our world is full of those who have turned away from God Himself because of our exclusivity and judgment. How angry must He be at the pride of our religion and the arrogance of those who keep the rules, thinking themselves better than everyone else? We have created a religion in the name of the One who came to loose us from the bonds of religious obligation and give us direct access to the Father.
How must His righteous indignation rise at the corruption of His body through buying and selling? How must He feel when we neglect the poor and needy He came to serve, yet build monumental buildings in His name? How angry must He be when we threaten a single mom with a curse if she doesn’t tithe, then then use that money to pay her pastor a six-figure salary? How must He feel when we trade His name like a product? I wonder, does it make Him weep to see our tacky bookstores full of items like the Jesus Pez Dispenser and “Testamints”?
He overturned the tables of the moneychangers. He fashioned a whip and attacked those who bought and sold in the name of God. He exhibited his anger at those who took advantage of the common man in the name of worship. And we think ourselves immune to that anger?
Jesus is jealous for His body. He is jealous for His bride. He is a loving and protective shepherd who will not abide for long with those who lead His sheep astray, even when it is done in His name.
#1 by Lorraine on June 14, 2011 - 10:46 AM
Can I put this on billboards around North America? (a tad long for that, perhaps). Yes! Brother, don’t stop saying the things you are saying. Just read again in Tozer’s “God’s Pursuit of Man” (formerly, The Divine Conquest), “Doubtless there are many whose eyes are open to the tragedy of our times, but why are they so silent when their testimony is so sorely needed? In the name of Christ men have made void the cross of Christ…in their blindness men have substituted the work of their own hands for the working of God’s power. PERHAPS OUR GREATEST PRESENT NEED MAY BE THE COMING OF A PROPHET TO DASH THE STONES AT THE FOOT OF THE MOUNTAIN AND CALL THE CHURCH OUT TO REPENTANCE OR TO JUDGEMENT.” (emphasis mine)
Financial, and other evils of abuse abound in the ‘congregations’ around North America (and elsewhere, no doubt). (I’m trying to leave the word “Church” for the actual Body of Christ – hard to swim against this tide, I’m afraid). Actually, my husband, daughter and soon son-in-law are all just about totally fed up with the lack of a real fellowship around here. If underground we must go, then so be it. Perhaps then the other ‘church’ WILL die.
#2 by Dave Kirby on June 14, 2011 - 12:30 PM
Thanks Lorraine. Not sure I’d claim to be that prophet Tozer talked about, but I’ll keep saying what He tells me to say. I asked God the other day, “Why do I have to always be the one saying things that scare me to say?” He told me, “The very fact that these things are uncomfortable for you is the very reason I have called you.” So I’ll keep saying them.
I believe the true “church” (I agree with you on finding something else to call what exists today. George Fox called them “steeplehouses”) has always been underground. It existed that way in NT times. It exists that way in many areas of the world today. Those who truly follow Christ will be swimming upstream of both the world and the worldly church. Keep swimming. He is there to make sure your arms never tire.
#3 by Lorraine on June 14, 2011 - 5:10 PM
My two ‘signatures’ on my email read as follows:
“Only dead fish swim with the current!”
(Nume toti fische schwümme mit em strom. Pole Hofer 🙂
“Everything is safe which we commit to him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.” A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Praying for you, my brother – be strong in the Lord and His mighty power – you march forward surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Maranatha!
#4 by peddiebill on June 14, 2011 - 11:23 AM
I agree with your perception of where the Church is going. I note for example that if I post an article on the misuse of overseas aid there is virtually no response from the Christian Right – whereas if I suggest a need for tolerance of those from other faiths, question Bible literalism or question fundamentalist doctrine eg male domination of the Church, I am overwhelmed with fundamentalist protest. If the Church can not bring itself to shown genuine concern for victims of injustice and prejudice and starts focussing on the well-being and status of its leaders, like you I believe this is the sort of Church that Jesus may well have protested.
#5 by Dave Kirby on June 14, 2011 - 12:31 PM
Agreed. That’s the point of my book “The Church Must Die”. If we cannot get ourselves back to the simple message of Jesus…care of the poor, love one another, mercy on the weak and wayward…we will die.
Thanks for reading and sharing your insights. Where are you from?
#6 by peddiebill on June 14, 2011 - 12:41 PM
From Auckland New Zealand. I need to check out your book and will look at the Amazon ad. I am impressed with your approach and if you had a moment would appreciate your views on some of the topics I have placed on my site. http://billpeddie.wordpress.com
#7 by Dave Kirby on June 14, 2011 - 1:04 PM
Thanks for checking out the book.
Just looked at your site and think I will find many hours of stimulating reading. I appreciate your thoughts on poverty/wealth. I believe the #1 job of the “church” (the REAL body of Christ) is to take care of the poor. All the other things we have built up in His name will crumble, only what we do for “the least of these” will last. Our faith is meant to point outward, not inward like so much of what we call Christianity today. Thanks for walking the walk, brother!
#8 by Jerry Grimes on June 14, 2011 - 12:14 PM
I totally agree with your thoughts on this. What really hurts is that true biblical stewardship is a lost art and a foreign concept because people lump it in with the money grubbing, manipulative approach you so aptly described here. There would be more than enough money to care for the single mom so she would not only feel pressured to give, but would know the love and care of a supporting body if more churches simply taught what scripture says about giving instead of man’s ideas.
#9 by Dave Kirby on June 14, 2011 - 12:34 PM
I do believe in a Biblical concept of giving and stewardship. What happens in many churches today is close to extortion. I agree with you, if we had a truly Biblical approach to giving, the needs of the poor would be met in abundance. I pray that will truly take root in my heart and in the hearts of all true believers.
Thanks for your perspective Jerry!
#10 by jim mellon on June 15, 2011 - 12:13 PM
Dave, Great stuff! We left the legacy church in1992 because we asked the Lord “what is the Church” ? He had us re read the NT and gave us eyes to see. What we read wasn’t what we were apart of. We left! Doing home/simple church. No buildings,no salaries except a part time secretary. Our network has been able to re-direct over 1M dollars to helping people. Great testimonies.
Jim Mellon email@example.com
#11 by Dave Kirby on June 15, 2011 - 2:26 PM
That’s a great story! I’d like to talk to you more about that. I am looking to start something similar here in Nashville and would like to learn from your journey.
#12 by Claire Grasse on June 16, 2011 - 1:13 PM
Great post, Dave. I shared this with my house church group and it really resonated with many. We also are legacy church “refugees” and have never once regretted leaving the 3 ring circus for a group of seeking believers. Keep up the good words.
#13 by Dave Kirby on June 16, 2011 - 1:30 PM
I think it’s beginning to resonate with more and more believers who are awakening to the reality of our present condition when held up to the contrast of scripture. Glad it encouraged you guys!
#14 by jim mellon on June 18, 2011 - 12:41 PM
Love to connect! 254-466-1853