In the Office: Cleaning House

“Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are His house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” (Hebrews 3:6)

Among today’s readings from the Daily Office, we find John’s account of Jesus clearing the Temple (John 2:13-22). You know the story: Jesus comes to the Temple in Jerusalem and finds the courtyards full of people who are selling sacrificial animals and exchanging money; so he overturns their tables, drives them out, and declares: “Get these out of here; stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:16)

There are many lessons to be gleaned from this story – especially if we study it within the context of John’s gospel and examine what it has to tell us about Jesus’ identity and mission. One of the messages commonly derived has to do with the danger of allowing “economic interests” to invade sacred space. In fact, many churches with which I am familiar (my own included) place significant restrictions upon the kind of fundraising that can take place and the kind of items that can be sold precisely to insure that this danger is avoided.

However, while there may be some value in clearing certain forms of commercialism out of our congregational meeting places, the deeper need – it seems to me – is to clear certain distractions out of our hearts and our common life so that we can “hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” After all, as another reading from today’s Daily Office (quoted above) makes clear, we are God’s house. It could be that the “sacred space” which Jesus most wants to cleanse is our fellowship with one another, so that we can truly be “built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)

So here’s a little something to ponder. Since we are God’s house, what does Jesus need to clean out of us in order to make us a suitable dwelling for God’s presence? What distractions need to be eliminated? And what priorities and prejudices need to be overturned?

May God give us grace today to name and release the things that are cluttering His house so that His Spirit can be more “at home” in us.

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