We are likewise guilty, of course. The churches we attend, the temple of our hearts, the architecture of our souls – spaces are carved, built, or emptied, to provide a proper venue, and meeting place, for us to experience God: a space for God alone to fill. Gradually, though, we begin to fill in the emptiness with stuff. The stuff may or may not have religious or historic value, sacramental or sacred worth. In any case, search "things" come between us and God, are "before God," shielding us from the terrible and wonderful intimacy that engenders true epiphanies (Steagald, 131).
Scripture: Matthew 21:12-17 (GNT):
Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, and said to them, “It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it a hideout for thieves!”
The blind and the crippled came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. The chief priests and the teachers of the Law became angry when they saw the wonderful things he was doing and the children shouting in the Temple, “Praise to David's Son!” So they asked Jesus, “Do you hear what they are saying?”
“Indeed I do,” answered Jesus. “Haven't you ever read this scripture? ‘You have trained children and babies to offer perfect praise.’”
Jesus left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
There’s something about a good slap in the face that brings us back to reality. We see this image sometimes on TV and in the movies. A person is in hysterics, freaking out, and someone slaps him or her across the face and suddenly they are calm and ready to deal with the situation at hand. I needed today's devotion to do that to me, to bring me down from my self-righteous high horse and remind me just why it is that I do what I do.
It is a calling. I have always thought of my life in ministry in that way. But I read a piece of an article just last week that challenged this view, and I failed to heed its warning. The article cautioned people about not considering one's job a calling because that could be a bad thing. The premise of the article was that when we consider our job a calling, we open ourselves up to much more hurt and frustration, to overworking ourselves for the cause. There is truth there. I myself have fallen victim many times to being disappointed and discouraged because either I did not live up to my own expectations of my calling or the people that I serve did not. But as today's devotion has reminded me, though I am called to serve people, my calling first and foremost is to serve God. And when I allow myself to be disappointed or discouraged either by myself or the people that I serve, I must admit that means I have lost track of God. I have put the work and my sense of importance within it before the relationship that is key.
As we make our way into and through this holy week, may we look at our lives to make sure that we are not so busy or so focused on so much stuff that we make no room for the very One who makes us and this week holy.