Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Of course, the smell of dog shampoo probably doesn't help

"He made a whip out of cords,
and drove all from the temple courts"
John 2:15

Well, it's summertime, which means it's hot, which means the dog is starting to shed, which means if we don't vacuum frequently, the piles of dog hair will collect in the corners and growl at us when we walk by. 

In addition to extra vacuuming, we also need to brush the dog regularly and give her more frequent baths, which, to be honest I'm not sure she's thrilled about.  Generally the Apple of my Eye is the one who bathes her, and she probably loves the extra attention from him, but still, it's not her favorite experience. 

So let's talk about how we feel about being cleansed.  Why does my sweet puppy hate it?  Is it the sensation of being scrubbed?  The feeling of being trapped under someone else's control?  The vulnerability of looking and feeling bedraggled for a few hours until her fur dries? 

How much of that applies to us when God is doing work in our lives?  How do you respond to being cleansed?  Think of the accounts of Jesus cleansing the temple (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, John 2).  It's a violent affair.  There was a whip used to force out those who don't belong.  There were overturned tables.  There was scattered money and if not shouting, then forceful commands.  You might feel just as violated when Jesus exposes to you what's in your heart. 

So how do you respond?  I once heard it said, "A sinner's conscience is a reformer's best friend."  Your response to God's work in your life reveals how teachable you are.  For instance, how do you respond if someone you love points out a flaw or weakness in you?  Do you defend yourself: "No, you don't understand; it's okay what I did, and here's why..." 

That's not being teachable.  I've always taught my kids that when someone criticizes them, they need to ask God if there's any truth there.  Sometimes people are just mean, but sometimes it's a chance for God to show us something.

It's also important to remember that in Scripture, cleansing is often preparation.  Matthew 5 says "if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you.... first go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."  It's why many churches teach that confession should come before taking communion.  It's why the account of Jesus cleansing the temple comes before Passover.  It's why Jews symbolically search their homes for any trace of leaven on the eve of Passover.  It's about readying ourselves for what's to come.  

Two other thoughts on this:  first, Jesus' goal is not to crush us or tear us down.  His goal is to build us up.  

And secondly, when Jesus cleansed the temple, He quoted Scripture.  I think it's a necessary component on our part in seeking to become more like Him, but I also think it's frequently the method He chooses to show us we're on the wrong path.  The Bible shows us His standard, gives us examples of what to do, and what not to do.  It teaches.

So, if your "temple" is being cleansed ~ hallelujah!

If not, don't worry ~ it's coming.

~ "Do you not know that your bodies are temples
 of the Holy Spirit, who is in you,
whom you have received from God?
You are not your own" ~
1 Corinthians 6:19

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