And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. (Matt. 21:12-14)
A couple of reminders on this Palm Sunday:
I am not saved simply to “go to heaven.” I am saved to understand I have been restored as an image bearer of God and there is a mission given… a human vocation.
The “royal priesthood” is the company of rescued humans who, being part of “earth,” worship the God of heaven and are thereby equipped, with the breath of heaven in their renewed lungs, to work for his kingdom on earth. (SIDENOTE: This is why I believe in being attached to Christ and his Church. Without his renewal breathing through me, I am ultimately powerless to keep on with anything of worth in this world.) The revolution o fthe cross sets us free to be in-between people, caught up in the rhythm of worship and mission. (The Day the Revolution Began, p. 363)
“The death of Jesus was the moment when the great gate of human history, bolted with iron bars and overgrown with toxic weeds, burst open so that the Creator’s project of reconciliation between heaven and earth could at last be set in powerful motion. The myrtle will at last replace the brier, and the cypress the thorn.” (N.T. Wright — The Day the Revolution Began, p. 349)
One of the mantras conservative white Christians have decided to “debunk” so we can get back to our safety bunkers is “Defund the Police.” It really caught our attention after the murder of George Floyd.
When we have typically thought of the gospel in western evangelicalism, it has been around the questions like, “How are my sins forgiven?” and “How do I get to heaven?”
N.T. Wright turns my thinking in a different direction:
“It is startling to reflect on just how diminished the average modern Western Christian vision of ‘hope,’ of ‘inheritance,’ or indeed of ‘forgiveness’ itself has become. We have exchanged the glory of God for a mess of spiritualized, individualistic and moralistic pottage.And in the middle of it we have radically distorted the meaning of the central gospel message: that, in accordance with the Bible, sins are forgiven through the Messiah’s death. We have domesticated the revolution.” (NT Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, emphasis added)
When I first was in ministry, the area where I pastored had a group of people who were teaching on a subject I would call “hyper grace.” A few years later, when I was pastoring in the Twin Cities, there was a Christian radio show focusing on what they perceived to be “apologetics” and how to trip up people to understand they were truly “sinners.”
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. (Luke 17:3-6, NIV)
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:11-14)
These thoughts from N.T. Wright:
There is a WHOLE LOT to develop from this particular episode, but I believe it is time to share what has been stirring deep in my heart for awhile. Along the way, I will keep developing off of this theme.
Listen to my latest podcast HERE.