One man or woman of character, fully surrendered to God, can change the world. You and I can impact families, communities, for the good for generations to come. Will you and I, as God’s ambassadors, do that which is convenient? Maybe personally beneficial? Or are we willing, on occasion, to flip a table or two.
We all have a holy battle to fight, one that will require focus, commitment, and sacrifice. I don’t know what that might look like for you. Or what will most challenge your courage and strength, but I can promise, those reasons will probably seem numerous and ever-growing. I can also promise you this: Saying yes to Jesus, however He calls, will ignite and nourish your soul unlike anything else.
Or perhaps I should phrase it differently: Whenever we shrink back from God’s call, whatever that might be, we rob ourselves of life as God intends, for which we were created.
I’ve shared before, here and also in various Faith Over Fear podcast episodes, about a time when God began to stir within our daughter a holy discontent. This began when a delayed diagnosis of a learning disability alerted her to major holes in the academic system. Numerous largely untrained college professors. Policies listed on websites without real-life follow through. Lack of accountability and oversight, over-emphasis of faculty rights with blatant violation of the rights of students.
The battle ahead of her seemed not only insurmountable but also detrimental. She was a student, after all, dependent on the very ones misusing their power. The fact that the authorities weren’t intentionally doing so was irrelevant; the results were the same.
She realized, just as her university’s failure to act was a decision to act, hers was as well. And so, though terrified of veiled retaliation that could cost her research positions, recommendations, and ultimately, her dreams, she used her voice, strengthened by her GPA, to speak for those who had long since lost theirs.
That was such a stressful, exhausting fight with repercussions that extended far beyond the university’s failing SSD department. She was building her character, her courage and grit, with every trembling step forward, until eventually her tenuous steps became firm and secure. But her actions did much more than that, because others were watching. And learning. And gaining courage to fight their battles as well.
And in this, to more accurately reflect our Savior who always spoke out for the marginalized, rejected, discarded, abused, and oppressed. One of my daughter’s favorite examples of this comes from John 2:13-22. This situation occurred around the time of Passover when an estimated 3,000,000 Jews and Gentiles combined traveled to Jerusalem for this holy day. I imagine the area looked similar to how Lincoln does on a Nebraska home game when people travel from the farthest corners of the state, crowding every crevice of the city while vendors and street hustlers haggling passersby.
Only instead of selling hot dogs and water, the merchants hawked sacrificial animals, at equally exorbitant prices. Can you imagine the noise, the smell, and the chaos worshipers encountered? Not only were people, many of whom were poor and had traveled for days, being taken advantage of. But because the vendors set up shop in the one area the Gentiles were allowed to enter, many seeking God were being pushed out.
Something Jesus would not allow, as John 2:15-17 demonstrate. “So He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves He said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a market!’ His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for your house will consume me.’” (John 2:15-17, NIV).
Scholars suggest Jesus reacted to numerous problems. The filth and chaos in the overran Temple courts. The dishonest practices of the money changers who willingly took advantage of people seeking God. The fact that the swindlers were using the one area open to foreigners to do so. But in each of these, His response came from the same place—love. And He demonstrated, love isn’t always soft spoken and polite. Sometimes love must take a stand and flip a table or two.
Like I said, I don’t know what that looks like for you. Honestly, I don’t always know what that looks like for me, either, but I do know we each have a role to play, a battle to fight, a wrong to right, and darkness to push back with God’s light.
Is there an area of darkness that has grown increasingly on your radar? If so, have you paused to ask God why? What He’s showing you and how He wants you to respond?
For those who are following our chronological reading plan, today’s devotion started this week off with a focus on John 2:13-22.