That Time Jesus Got Angry

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While there are some folks out there who really do have the misplaced notion that Jesus’ hobbies were limited to holding stuffed lambs and chatting about peace under dim light in honeyed tones, most do recognize that there were gruesome aspects involved. Things like declaring sin was rather a big deal after all, and He had come to conquer it in a way hard to fathom: the way of nails and cross.

But even with so many of us grasping the fact that Jesus was crucified—after all, just about everyone in the United States at least knows what Easter represents—there is still yet another facet about his life and ministry that gets underplayed: his anger.

Oddly enough, the question popped into my head this week as the sun was setting beyond my steering wheel and I drove to our local ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) meeting:

What did Jesus get angry over?

He didn’t flip out when he talked with adulterous women. He didn’t grab the men by the tunic and shake them for inflating tax prices in order to steal from those poorest for their own gain. No, Jesus was revolutionary for the anti-cultural way he managed to love on those most despised and broken while at the same time boldly stating the truth about the Way.

So, what really got His blood boiling? Because, after all, shouldn’t that be the kind of thing I care about too?

                And it struck me in a new way, in that lovely way that the Bible continues to teach despite the thousands of times you’ve read through that story. The biggest time in Scripture Jesus was positively enraged was after entering the temple and seeing money changers and those selling sacrificial animals. Their jobs weren’t the problem, in fact they were perfectly necessary and legitimate occupations. After all, many Jews didn’t have the luxury of a minivan to toss the goat and doves into when they took the long trek to Jerusalem. So, instead, they’d take their coins and buy the sacrificial animals when they got there. But what was the thorn there that caused to Jesus make a whip out of cords, run around flipping over tables, and scare people out of their minds? And why was this story so important that it’s included not just in Matthew, not just in Mark, but in all four gospels?

One clue is when Jesus exclaimed, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

Simply put, Jesus went to the temple and found people exploiting the traveling Jews who needed to exchange money and buy animals. They hiked up the prices to profit from things devoted to God. They turned the holiest and most sacred place on Earth into nothing more than an overpriced coffee shop. They used God for their own profit.

As I turned into my group meeting I wondered, what would that be equivalent to today? And the words practically whispered in my ear: using writing (about God) to magnify myself.

It was a startling and scary thought. For while we as Christians should do whatever we do as for the Lord (Colossians 3:23), it is even more essential to make sure all tasks under the umbrella of teaching are focused wholly on God.

Even James states this, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

Taking on the task of teaching about God, whether through such tasks as preaching, leading a Bible study, mentoring a friend, or in my case, writing inspirational fiction, is not something to take lightly. Because while it is unfortunately tempting to focus your Olympic-level beach volleyball skills or business career on yourself, using something that is supposed to be all about glorifying God for yourself is another level. Ten lower levels. Something that could make Jesus chase you around the living room with a whip of cords.

So, all that’s to say, this is something I’ll have to constantly remind myself of as I continue the pursuit of writing for God’s glory. As editors send feedback telling me to post more blogs about myself, as I wait for a contract that will bear my name on the bottom, as one day (Lord willing) I publish that book or two and find myself under the huge temptation to take pride in my work (and alternatively, plunge into depths of despair should my work receive bad reviews, get fourth in that contest, etc.), I must be mindful to stop and ask myself, “Wait. Now who is this all for again?”

Blessings,

Melissa Ferguson

 

 

 

Heralds Publishing Salvation

trumpeters-921709_1280“We remain on Earth as sowers to scatter good seed; as plowmen to break up the fallow ground; as heralds publishing salvation.”                     — Charles Spurgeon

Heralds publishing salvation.

As I read this devotion from Spurgeon I was stopped by this phrase in particular, and felt in myself that rare spark that told me those words were special and I’d better be listening.

I rewrote the phrase in my journal, letting the words simmer.

Heralds publishing salvation—what a beautiful vocation to have.

Spurgeon was right, and God was gracious in reminding me of just one of His purposes for my life at the moment. You see, when I began writing fiction in a lonely hotel room four years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea what the rules of publishing were—how long publishers required the word count to be, what certain topics to avoid or cling to, what genre sold and what didn’t. I just found some inspiration and started typing away.

But in the past year or so, with one book finished and now on that long hopeful track toward publication, I’ve learned a lot. Enough, in fact, to find myself getting bogged down in the details and in need of a God-sized reminder of what I was trying to do in the first place.

And yesterday morning, during devotion time, that reminder came.

So… so what if Christian fiction is having a hard go of it right now? So what if the latest advice is to drop the spiritual talk in order for the manuscript to have a chance at the general market? It may be fine advice and perhaps (Lord desirous) a tactic in future books, but as for this one, I see a unique stamp of God in it just as it is, and that’s something I must hesitate to take White Out to. After all, it’s not every day one gets the chance to be a herald publishing salvation.

Following the leading of the Lord, whatever it may be, is always the wisest plan.

“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8

 

Daily Meditation: Psalm 118

Bible in a Year: Ezra 3-5; John 20