Praying for a Faithful Church

A reading for Tuesday, December 3rd: Matthew 21:12-22

Imagine for a moment if online shopping required you to visit the store to pick up the items you purchase.  What if once you had paid for it online, you then had to get in your car and drive across town observing the store's normal business hours in order to complete the transaction?  Nobody would do that.  That's not the way online shopping works.  It isn't intended to function that way, and if that's the way it really worked it would not continue to be the success it has become.  Millions and millions of Americans will order something this holiday season and then conveniently wait for it to be delivered to their homes with no store visit necessary.

Jesus is angry at the money changers because they are not allowing the Temple to function as it was intended.  He turns over their tables, expressing his anger at the disfunction of God's leaders in God's house.  Then the story tells us that Jesus heals and cures all those that come seeking his blessing.  There are so many, and perhaps the reason for such a strong reaction from Jesus in the Temple is the number of those needing help.  These are the ones that should have been helped by the Temple.  Why have the priests and the religious leaders, those that are angry with Jesus for pointing this out, not helping the poor and those in need of God's grace?  Jesus has much more in common with those in need than with the leaders of his faith, and so perhaps we are not surprised that he leaves the Temple that day and stays in Bethany which was known as the poorest part of town in Jerusalem.

The message is clear.  Like a fig tree that bears no fruit, the Temple did not function for the purpose that God intended.  God's people and God's ways for life are given to others as a blessing to heal and to cure all.  That's why Jesus is in Bethany.  That's where people in need of grace are.  But sometimes as a church we don't function that way either.  We get bogged down with our own busyness and our own survival and forget that we have a purpose to cure and to heal.  There are so many in need of God's grace.  What if we fail to offer that grace and that hope?  Fewer and fewer will come.  They will simply stay home.  They will not drive across town to visit our houses of worship.  Not because they don't care, but because that's not the way the church is supposed to work and they know it.  It isn't intended to function only for itself, and if that's the way we continue to work then many will not continue to view us as the faithful church of Jesus Christ.

Truth is, like online shoppers, millions and millions of people this year are counting on us to get this right...

Jesus says that whatever we ask for in prayer will be given.  I pray we ask for an effective, faithful church blessed with a grace filled message of hope and peace.  And I believe it will be given.


Popular Posts