For many of us, our lives are filled with the mundane and monotonous. It is as if we live for those moments when we might become something different…when we might become all that we were created to be…when we might have the opportunity to touch greatness or even the very face of God. This evening we are going to talk about one of those moments in the life of Jesus, where Jesus is undeniably God in action. The scene unfolded at the temple.
People or moneychangers set up tables selling access to worship throughout the temple. There were obstacles of class and status that people had to overcome in order to participate in the life of the temple. Jesus became enraged at the injustice of it all and made a whip to drive out those who were doing the selling and creating obstacles to the worship of God. Jesus sealed his death by standing up for others in the narrative. For Jesus the time to stand with the oppressed was always now.
What temples must we storm? Who are the moneychangers? Where are our whips?
Our immigration policies create a society of obstacles for our brothers and sisters who we live and work with everyday.
Our economic policies oppress people all over the world…creating situations where billions of people have little access to the economic resources they need to survive.
The policies of our justice system consistently create a world in which we would rather imprison the poor than educate them.
There are innumerable systematic oppressions and injustices that we give assent to by remaining silent everyday.
If we are to be followers of the way of Jesus…then where are our whips?
It would be nice if I could point you to our churches to help you in your task of driving out the moneychangers. But, the truth is that the moneychangers and the obstacle creators far too often are operating out of these spaces.
I can think of no greater challenge facing the church in the United States than the rise of the prosperity gospel. Jesus did not call you to get rich and healthy. Jesus called you to come and die. I pray that we will drive out the moneychangers who are keeping us from talking about injustice and oppression by filling our pulpits with bullshit about accumulating health and wealth.
People in the church ask us to go slow on issues of justice. To them I declare here and now…we are not going fast enough. How many more young people will have to die before we wake up to the second-class status church policies and teachings are thrusting upon the queer community? How many more people are going to have to suffer spiritual abuse from our pastors before we wake up to the knowledge that God loves everyone? It is not enough to do this love-the-sinner shit. It is not enough to paternalistically affirm someone. We will either love all of God’s children now or we will cease to be the church.
Where are our whips? What are we waiting on?
The most treacherous temple to storm is our own. We fail to realize the effects of growing up in a culture permeated with oppression and injustice at every step. I have come to terms with the fact that I will always be a recovering racist, homophobe, sexist, classist and a whole host of other ists. I have to storm my temple daily to get all the shit out. If we are willing to be honest with our selves, we all have to. We all have to root out daily the oppressive and evil attitudes and injustices that take root in our lives. Though we will never be perfect, we need to get more people in recovery.
Where are our whips? Why are we not down on our knees?
Are we willing to step into those moments where we are called to be something tremendously greater than what we are? Are we willing to fashion the whips and drive out the moneychangers that inhabit our lives and the world around us?
It is not enough to hide and live our lives quietly. We must give our lives for other others. The greatest response to a world gone mad is to refuse to stop storming the temple.
For Jesus the time to stand with the oppressed is always now.
Our time is now.
Prism Denton 3/16