Every year or so my wife and I get the urge to purge. Do you know what I mean? Closets emptied, drawers dumped, cupboards gutted, cast off to the thrift store and landfill. There's a moment, usually early in the day, stuff piling higher all around, when zeal burns bright. All sentimentality is shoved aside and like sailors pitching ballast, we toss that ratty shirt, those ill-fitting (yet, oh so expensive) jeans, and the never-opened wedding gift. Out it all goes, consumed by our desire to see a fresh, clean house.
Suddenly, we can breathe again. Lost spaces, rediscovered. Forgotten rooms, restored. Open, fresh, inviting—we wonder how we'd lived on top of all that stuff.
Was it the urge to purge that overcame Jesus that day in the temple? Suffocated by all the religious clutter—consumed by passion for his Father's house—Jesus cleans house. We are struck by his fervour and his total lack of decorum as he turns tables and scatters livelihoods. How dare he act with such disregard? Who gave him the right to act as though this place was his? And when questioned, his only appeal was a cryptic reference to his own coming destruction and the soon-to-be rising of his own temple.
Lent is all about the urge to purge, applied to our personal temples. As temples of the Holy Spirit, we have a desire to de-clutter, air out and freshen up. Christians engage Lent as a time of denial, purging, and cleansing so that our lives might be re-oriented around the passions of Jesus. But could it be that Lent is more about Jesus' urge to purge us than any real desire we have to change?
During Lent, I realize that I’m not the guy with the broom and the garbage bag. I'm the guy holding the doves, hawking cows in the courtyard, and cluttering up precious space with my own version of spirituality, life, and goodness. Space Jesus wants. Space Jesus owns. And so Jesus strides in, zealous for his house, declaring with authority, "Get these things out of here.”
What right does he have to do this? We are his house, the body of Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit. Under what authority does he overturn our precious tables and disturb our lucrative markets? As the resurrected Son of God, he is pursing vision for us, his temple, a vision far exceeding anything we could imagine.
Ask yourself today:
If Jesus were to walk around my life, what would he have the urge to purge?
How is Jesus using this season of Lent to clean up your house?
Erickson Covenant Church