12 And Jesus entered the temple[a] 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 pidgeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:12-13)
Have you ever heard anyone say that they love God, but hate the church? Have you ever said that? I know I have, quite a few times.
I could have given you several reasons why I didn’t like the church: hearing people say nasty things about family members, lying, and don’t get me started on the cliquey-ness in so many christian youth groups.
Why, then, did I give several years of my life to working for a church? Why, if you ask me now, would I say that I love the church?
I was deeply affected by one thing a youth leader told me: “You wouldn’t go to a wedding and say the bride looked ugly.” Wow, that struck me right to the heart. You see, that was exactly what I had been doing. I had been focussing so much on the mess and ugliness, that it was making me bitter.
It is really easy to read about the Jesus clearing the temple, after the triumphal entry, and think that gives us free reign to look for all the faults within our own church; rather than looking to ourselves, seeing whether we may be contributing to these faults. Looking for ways to encourage people, rather than putting them down.
We are not the King of the Church. Jesus is. He has the right to do anything He wants, we do not. He is, after all, the head of the church, not us.
Yes, I promise you, there are plenty of things wrong in every church, but it is not for us to worry about. We need to worry about the mess in our own lives more than we worry about the mess in other people’s.
Telling other people about how awful your church is will not make it better.
If you think your church is unwelcoming, then start being welcoming. If you think people in the church are gossipy, don’t join in with the gossip. If you think the sermons are boring, stop dissecting them and ask the Holy Spirit to minister to you. Encourage you leaders, and those who work with the kids.
Most of all remember the church is beautiful. Really. So many messy people around the world worshipping an awesome God. What could be more beautiful than that?
Thanks for reading these Holy Week Devotions, I look forward to sharing with you again tomorrow.