As the firework smoke clears, the streets begin to be cleaned, and many slowly open their alcohol-coated eyes, we can look to the next aspect of subversive prayer, which is repentance. Now, before you roll your eyes and roll back over, I know that that is not a very popular word. And I want to assuage you of any feelings you may now be having that this blog is the ranting and raving of some strange radical-fundamentalist hybrid who thinks the world is full of sin and that we got to do good or else God is mad at us.
Assuage… Yeah, I don’t know if that is going to be happening.
The thing is, i think there is some truth to that for almost all of us. Though God sent His son to die to free us from the totalitarian grasp of sin and death, there are actions still taken that hurt others and destroy the world around us, which brings us to the weighty part of this conversation. In Matthew 21, Jesus has first triumphantly entered Jerusalem and the whole town is in an uproar, and most are excited that the Messiah has come. So, what does a good king do to continue to gain the respect of those adoring him? He enters the temple, and begins making people and animals leave, and starts flipping tables over.
Though at first this sounds like schizophrenia acting up, what is happening here is first an act of true worship, because it is second an act of social justice. Jesus didn’t just send them out ‘just because’, but because the system that they were partaking in was corrupt, abusive, and harmed the poor. There were people buying and selling animals at the temple because many traveled a long distance to get to Jerusalem for the upcoming Passover and could not bring livestock with them to sacrifice. So there was a place to buy them… but at an exorbitant price. Same with the money changers: they were taking foreign currency in exchange for appropriate temple money… but were taking a little more than necessary off the top. Those selling doves may have been the worst, because that part of sacrifice was reserved for the poor who could not afford cattle, yet they still had to pay. So, Jesus was rightfully pissed that people were being abused in the name of His Father.
So Jesus was a social activist. What does this have to do with prayer?
Everything! Haven’t you figured this out by now? Sometimes there are restrictions that we have placed in our own hearts (which those who follow Jesus are referred to as temples of God) that put an unnecessary weight on those around us. We have made our hearts a den of thieves where we steal the dignity and the image of God from others around us, when it was supposed to be a place where God resides. And because of that, we need to drive out the things that have made it hard for others to come to God. We need to repent. We need to see that cleansing ourselves shocks and disarms the powers and principalities because they don’t know what to do when we change the rules and only live based on love. And when we reclaim a desire for doing what is right, one that we will starve and dehydrate without, Jesus says we will be satisfied. Repent in prayer, seek to make things right, and subvert the powers today.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
The words of Jesus, Matthew 5:6