The Violent Clean-Up

The Violent Clean-Up

And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” Luke 19:45-46

In medical school, a classmate and I lived in a dumpy basement apartment which wasn’t very clean when we moved into it. It didn’t get any cleaner for our living in it. I remember the bathroom and the shower wall, in particular, being quite disgusting. When my wife – then my fiancé – stopped by, I tried to limit her time in our apartment and made sure she avoided the bathroom at all costs. I didn’t want her to see the disaster, but still, I remained unwilling to go to all the work it would be to clean it up.

It’s an amusing memory, but when I think of the pattern of behavior I was beginning, it’s less funny. At the time, I had no idea that the seeds of addiction were growing in me, but I was developing behaviors that I wished to stay hidden from everyone, including my soon-to-be wife. In not addressing these patterns, they worsened, causing massive destruction in my marriage a few years later.

In today’s passage, Jesus entered the temple, which he referred to as his father’s house, and violently drove out those who profited by selling animals for sacrifice. He didn’t do this gently, but rather, he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons (Matthew 21:12).

Something evil crept into God’s dwelling and Jesus wouldn’t tolerate it. He didn’t deal with it kindly, but rather, he ferociously drove it out. This is something we must continually do. We all have weaknesses and self-destructive behaviors. We all have things that creep in and which, if allowed to grow, will cause us misery.

Jesus answer to our sin isn’t gentle. He insisted that if we want the authentic life offered by God, we must daily crucify the old ways so we may follow the new (Luke 9:23). Daily, we must kill those things that would cause us destruction. We may think them only small indulgences in lust, greed, gluttony, pride, or chemicals, but even small things have a way of becoming self-destructive addictions that rob us of the life God intends. If we want faith, life, and recovery, like Jesus, we must violently eradicate those things which would destroy us.


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