Indignation = anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment from 13.8.16
When the Lord really wants to get a message across he has a way of lining up events so that his testimony is unavoidable. In the teaching below I will try to lay out some things the Lord is very much saying to his Church today in the order they came to me.
Money, money, money it’s….whose world?
Working through Matthew in my daily devotions I was struck by interconnection between events in the story of Christ’s cleansing of the temple (21:12-16). Jesus first overturns the tables of the money-changers, and quotes from the prophets; ““My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.””, (Isa 56:7; Jer 7:11). Once this has been done the blind and the lame come to him and he heals them all. Next up we hear “the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!””. A spontaneous kid’s choir has formed. All of this happens in the temple where none of these people were normally allowed (Lev 21:16-21 etc.)! As soon as Jesus got rid of the money-men in God’s house the weak and needy poured into the newly created space and were delivered. For a brief moment the temple ceased to be the most important economic hub in the eastern Roman Empire and became a house of prayer, praise and healing. Hallelujah! Then in response to such “wonderful things” the religious leaders who “loved money” were “indignant” with Jesus and opposed him for ruining their business model (Matt 21:15; Luke 16:14). Such things are still happening today.
Not knowing my deliberations on this passage a few days later a member of a Bible study referred directly to this text. With grief he related how a group of people with various disabilities had been forced out of using a church property because they were asked to pay higher rent. As if the message wasn’t clear enough already, two days later someone is in my office lamenting about how money is controlling “the machine” (his words) of a local megachurch. The very next day another contact who left professional pastoral ministry and took up Uber driving reports his passengers name 3 big problems with the Church; one of these is, “All they want is your money.” Finally, two days later our local bishop, who’s a wonderful person, began a discussion with our church council about a new minister by reminding us that the Diocese can help us only within the parameters set by our income. All this money stuff makes me want to screeaam! The Spirit is speaking to the churches; money is getting in the way of people coming to Jesus!!! We must get in touch with how the Lord is feeling about this.
John’s Gospel gives us insight into the powerful emotions that Jesus experienced when he cleansed the Temple; ““Zeal for your house will consume me.”” (John 2:17)? Entering the temple the Lord was deeply grieved by the mammon worship in his Father’s house, hence his indignant zeal. There was a fire burning in Jesus which could not be quenched; apart from the cross (Luke 12:50). There is an even more profound connection in the Gospels that explains why Christ’s holy consciousness had to cleanse the house of God. When the disciples tried to prevent the little children from coming to Jesus “he was indignant” with them. The Lord was incensed against these “good Christians” because they were stripping away from the kids an opportunity of being taken up into his arms and “blessed” (Mark 10:14-16). Surely much of the Church today has been stripped of blessing because we are dominated by the consumer concerns of society and our own middle class moralisms.
Last Sunday I ran into a chap who has started a youth group amongst Indigenous kids in a rural town. With sadness he shared that he has largely had to go it alone because when he brought the smelly, dirty, shoeless and occasionally robbing teenagers to the churches around town they were commonly sent home. With whom is Jesus indignant in this situation? Christ’s feelings are transparent, but how about ours?
Where is our Iindignation?
Sometimes things line up in a way that you know it is of the Lord. Another brother at our Bible study referred to a passage in Ezekiel where God says, “stand in the gap”. I opened my Bible towards that part of the Old Testament and it landed exactly here; “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath.” (Ezek 22:30). Because the Lord does not enjoy judging sinners he appeals for intercessors, an appeal that goes unanswered (Ezek 33:11). Little has changed, very rare is that church today of any size that can assemble a significant number of people to regularly pray. There is no way 2 Chronicles 7:14 is true about us; ““if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”” The prayerlessness of God’s people is a direct consequence of our failure to unite with a God who is “appalled that there was no one to intercede”, so that he has to pour out his wrath (Isa 59:16). When the Church shares the Spirit’s indignation we will certainly pray in order that the power of the cross may turn away the righteous wrath of God from our land. We are in days like those of Lamentations, but few discern it. Woe to us (Rev 8:13). But it is not all grim.
Biblical encouragement comes from an unlikely source. The Corinthian Church is generally considered the most immature of Paul’s churches. Yet he speaks of them in this way; “what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you what indignation…what zeal…” (2 Cor 7:11). If the Spirit could impart to the Corinthians a share in Christ’s righteous indignation and zeal for the kingdom of God surely he can do the same for us. All we need to do is ask for a revelation from the Lord that he is indignant about our lack of indignation. As a friend of mine would say; it’s time that the “blessing blockers” are thrown out of the house of God so that the weak and needy can receive healing from the Lord. It’s time that the scandalous public image, “They only want your money.”, was put on the cross once for all. When the Lord strips away all our financial securities “machine Church” will be no more.
I am however being simplistic. Just as those who prospered financially through religion in Jesus’ day persecuted the Son of God they will persecute us. Holy indignation will be met by selfish indignation. But unlike the common cultural confusion about Church today, in that hour the poor, weak, needy and children will know exactly where to find the real Jesus.