Lent Day 34: Consider Your Calling
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
Have you ever been to a church service and it just did not seem like church to you? It was functioning more like an event than an actual service that was warm and inviting. You may have felt like it was more of a production and performance than a time of worship and celebration to God.
That was the scene in the temple as Jesus arrived during his final passion week before his date with the cross. Jesus arrived in the temple, which was the pinnacle of religious activity for the Jewish people and the place where God was supposed to be honored, worshipped and respected. Where all people, Jews and Gentiles alike, are welcome to worship God. But unfortunately, as Jesus described it, it had become a “den of robbers.”
The term “den of robbers” is used to describe the false security the religious leaders placed in the temple and their place in it. His attack was because they allowed the temple to be degenerated into a safe hiding place where people think they can find forgiveness and fellowship with God no matter how they act.
Their activity was preventing the Gentiles from accessing to the temple for worship. It was pushing them outside, and Jesus came to tear down the walls and invite everybody into his house. Jesus wanted Gentiles to be included at the feast of the Passover, which commemorates God’s redemption of his people. Unfortunately, the temple had become a nationalistic symbol that divided the nation and did not bring them together. When the goal of God’s house was to be a place of prayer and joint participation for all people.
these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
The temple activity was a distortion of what Jesus wanted and expected in his Father’s house. And as we know Jesus turned the tables over in the temple to rectify this distortion of what true worship and relationships are all about. By this act Jesus is calling us to so much more.
Brueggemann invites us to entertain another option. “Imagine that God has called a people to live by the commandments as an alternative to the distortion. Imagine that Jesus called his disciples to organize their lives differently according to his teaching. Imagine that Jesus has called the church to be a people on a mission, the mission of subverting the dominant distortion of social reality.”
We have always been called to live counter to the social systems of the day. That could not be more true than right now in our nation’s history.
We have all been called to an extravagant life in Christ. We are called to remember that we are God’s creation, our life is his, and we operate under his power. And strangely enough this call, as noted in our scriptures today, is a call to ordinary people who live ordinary lives.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
As ordinary people we display the glory of God in our generosity, courage, and living in truth in response to God’s gracious gift in Christ Jesus.
“You call us—ordinary people with ordinary lives—to be a church dedicated to your purposes, which are at odds with the values of the world. Strengthen us to leave behind all the distortions of life we indulge and to embrace the gift of wholeness and joy you have offered us in Christ Jesus. Amen.” Brueggemann
Brueggemann, Walter. A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent. Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 2017.