Standing up for justice
Love is patient, Love is kind…Love also flips over tables when it sees injustice!
For Christians, Jesus Christ is the absolute embodiment of love so why is he going around smashing market stalls?
Matthew 21: 12-14 as told in The Message says:
“Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text:
My house was designated a house of prayer;
You have made it a hangout for thieves.
Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.” Matthew 21:12-14
How do we reconcile the fact that Jesus, our best example of how to love others went all incredible hulk on the temple? Surely, the Jesus we know would have gone up to these “loan sharks” and used some clever quips like with the Pharisees or changed them through friendship like Zacchaeus the tax collector? Is Jesus acting disproportionately here?
Jesus’ primary aim may have been to save us from our sins; we know that he didn’t just come just to save Israel but all races. The temple that Jesus was visiting had a court for non-Jews to come and worship the one true God. It was (and still is) important for God that all people could come to him. Read Isaiah 56.
People were desperately seeking something “better” not just physically but spiritually. Some shrewd business people realised this and set up a market in the temple. Raising the prices of sacrificial pigeons and probably other religious items too. Worse than just charging through the roof for these items they were being disruptive and stopping Gentiles (non-Jews) from engaging with God. This prompted a “righteous anger” in Jesus. But why is that relevant for us today?
Turn on the news and we can a depressing state of the world. People are starving, freezing, raping, murdering, dying, exploiting, hating, segregating and burying their heads in the sand about it.
It’s easy to feel helpless or to condemn it and stew in anger at what other people are doing to each other. But what are we doing other than ranting on Social Media and giving to charity?
Let’s be clear, we are called to live radical lives.
We are called to help the poor and we are called to make disciples of all nations too. The UK currently has many nations represented here. Many are seeking a better way of life just like the gentiles of the first century. What are we really doing to point them to Jesus? Does the turning away of refugees do that? Does the discrimination on the basis of race, gender and religion do that? Jesus wants all people to come to him, Jews, Gentiles, Britons, and all nations. Can we honestly say that we are pointing people to Jesus?
That homeless person who hangs outside the supermarket, are we stopping to talk to them, take them to shelters and show them Jesus? Are we fostering young people who have serious anger issues, investing in them and showing them that they matter? Are we housing refugees despite certain sections of the media denouncing them as rapists, and thieves?
Are we standing up for justice? These are not convenient ways to live but they are no less than what Christ has asked of us. Our apathy is stopping people coming to God while we know in our hearts they need him. I am not advocating destruction of property but I am advocating Jesus’ passion and anger in fighting injustice. I am advocating living radically even when it is odd and scary.
As Christians we have a duty right now to stand up and face the multiple crises that are affecting young people, refugees, the poor, and the outcast. Rather than courage, our world is shaped by fear. We are so scared that despite living in a connected world we surround ourselves with people just like us, and in doing so fuel the fire of fear.
When we know the living God we do not have that luxury. We cannot let fear stop us actively fighting for justice, we must stand up and be the salt and light Jesus called us to be (Matthew 5).
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:16-18