A survey was done by the Automobile Club of America in which they found that most incidents of road rage happen on sunny days – not on rainy days or when the weather isn’t so great. I found that fascinating. In fact, the study showed that 68 percent of road rage incidents took place on sunny days when people were coming home from work on a Friday afternoon.
Have you ever been really angry about something and spoke your mind and felt really good about it? Then, after the adrenaline wore off 10 minutes later, you thought, What have I done? We wish we could never be angry.
However, there are times when Christians should be angry. But we need to be angry about the right things. It is called righteous indignation. And Jesus Christ himself displayed it on a number of occasions.
In the week before his death and resurrection, Jesus entered the temple and began driving out the merchants in a display of righteous indignation. Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus also “overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple.”
I love that scene. It is not the image of the meek and mild Jesus we are accustomed to. In most artistic renderings of Jesus, he doesn’t look like he could overturn a chair, much less a table. But the Jesus of the New Testament, the real Jesus, was a man’s man. He was strong.
Jesus was indignant and angry because people were being kept from worshiping God. Instead of praying for the people, the religious leaders were preying on the people. If a person wanted to pay the temple tax, there were special half shekels of the sanctuary that were only accepted. These were exchanged for the usual currency. It is like entering a foreign country where you need to exchange your currency. It can be very confusing, because sometimes you don’t know how much you are actually spending. So you have to keep track of the exchange rate.
In the temple, they were inflating the price on the exchange rate. And if someone brought in a sacrifice, they would find a supposed blemish on the sacrificial animal, even if there wasn’t one. Thus, worshipers would be forced to buy another animal at an exaggerated price.
They were keeping people away from God, and that makes God angry. God welcomes all people, both Jews and Gentiles. In the book of Isaiah, God said,
I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord. … I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
The Gentiles were being discriminated against and being taken advantage of. Everyone should have been able to come into the temple and worship. And God doesn’t like it when we stand as a wall or a barrier to keep people away. He wants us to be a bridge that will help people come to him.
So we need to ask ourselves, Am I a bridge or a barrier? Am I helping people come to God, or am I keeping them away? These are important issues, because to fail to deal with them actually angers God.
Jesus cleansed the temple of the moneychangers and merchants. And in the same way, when we put our faith in Christ, our temple is cleansed, because the Bible says that a believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Filthy habits are banished. There is a new purpose and focus in life.
But as time passes, some of the old things can find their way back in again. That little sin that has been gone comes back again and begins to grow. Our lives can become cluttered with things that don’t belong.
I confess that I am a messy person. The problem is that I hate messy environments. So when I find myself in a messy environment, such as my office at home, I will periodically go into a turbo clean mode and straighten everything up. Everything will look tidy and wonderful, and I enjoy my great work environment. Then I will start messing it up again.
In contrast, my wife is constantly cleaning. She will make a meal and will already be cleaning before we have eaten the food. I don’t bring this up to mock my wife but to point out there is a right way and a wrong way to clean things. There is the Greg way, which is never to do today what you can put off until tomorrow, and then there is the Cathe way, which is to deal with the messes as they occur, before they start to build up.
We can take the same approach to life. We can take the path of least resistance where we will do nominal things and make a few exterior changes. We think, I don’t want to deal with that now. … I don’t want to hassle with that problem now. … I know this is becoming an issue, but I don’t want to face that now. And that is how little things turn into big things.
Then there is the other alternative, which is to deal thoroughly with the things in our lives that don’t really belong. Are there some sins, vices, or bad habits that have found their way into your life again? Maybe it is time for God to clean house.
You see, Jesus doesn’t want to just be king in your life for a day. He wants to be king every day. He doesn’t want to just be Sunday Jesus. He wants to be Monday Jesus and Tuesday Jesus and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday Jesus. He wants to be Lord every day, because if he is not Lord of all, then he is not Lord at all.