It takes a lot to get me upset. Sure, I get annoyed and frustrated by little things every day, but it takes something serious to leave me deeply frustrated. But, I have found that the things that deeply frustrate me are usually rooted in some kind of injustice.
I see Jesus getting frustrated over these kinds of things too. Consider the story where he throws his famous temper tantrum—overturning tables and driving animals from the temple courts.
What was Jesus really frustrated with in this particular story?
As it turns out, the temple was a place for God’s holiness to reach and heal the people. This was done through prayer, sacrifices, and other ancient, religious practices. As the Old Testament clearly outlines, the animals presented for sacrifice had to be without blemishes. Well, overtime, and most likely in the name of “holiness” and “proper doctrine,” entire enterprises were set up to sell travelers animals that would meet these rigorous standards. And soon, even the money you offered to the treasury needed to be special. So moneychangers would change the money of travelers from the “secular” coin of the Romans, to the “holy” temple currency. Of course, they would charge for this service. And in Jesus’ opinion, this enterprise was deeply frustrating.
If you were traveling to Jerusalem, and made it to the temple, you would pay whatever you had to in order to make your sacrifice and give your offering. In a lot of ways, the overpriced exchanged was accepted—much like we accept overpriced popcorn in movie theaters, overpriced hotdogs at baseball games, and overpriced sodas at amusement parks.
Yet, in the name of God, people were being taken advantage of. In fact, in the name of what was “proper” and “holy,” people without the money to pay these high prices, were getting cut off from temple life. The poor were being exploited in the name of proper religious practice.
And what did Jesus do about it? He was deeply frustrated. He overturned the tables.
Today, I read about World Vision’s decision to hire legally married, practicing Christians who are also homosexual. As frustrating as this is for many in the church, this part does not frustrate me. World Vision is merely declaring that it wishes to stay in fellowship with Christian denominations that believe homosexuality is not contrary to the heart of scripture. Whether you agree or disagree is not the point—the reality is the same: There is a growing number of faithful believers who have no problem allowing same-sex marriage—for a variety of reasons.
So what frustrates me? There is talk right now that thousands of evangelicals are going to remove their support from World Vision because of this issue. In the name of what is “right, proper and holy” they feel they can no longer support the children World Vision is helping; children suffering from the effects of poverty. I’m not saying they will stop supporting children in general, but they are threatening to stop supporting one children and start supporting a different one under a different organization.
So yet again, in the name of proper religious practice the poor will be exploited – traded like commodities. In the name of what is “holy” the poor are expected to pay the cost. In the attempt to avoid blemishes, the people of God are going to focus on the rule instead of the mission.
I honestly believe, if Jesus were here, he’d be throwing some tables.
So I want to introduce you to Edmon.
Allyssa and I have been sponsoring him through World Vision for some time now. Edmon is growing up in a poor area in Uganda. The HIV and AIDS crisis has severely damaged the social fabric of the entire community, leaving many children without parents. And although Edmon has been able to keep his parents, they have struggled to provide for him. Edmon likes to play games. And tries to behave. And every year he sends us a photo he drew. Edmon is special.
Let me just be clear: we plan to continue supporting Edmon. I hope you will consider doing the same.