Structures are falling down all around us. In our country, church, and world, we’re finding our shared values are shared no longer. Institutions are collapsing under the weight of abuse and scandal. The world feels as though it’s spinning off its axis. During troubled times, we tend to look to those things that are immovable, unshakeable, and yet these days we find nothing quite fits that definition, not anymore.
Where do you put your confidence? What do you believe in? If it’s a politician or a priest or even an idea or a belief, you might find these as sands shifting beneath your feet. It’s as though the world is made of cardboard and the buildings are falling, one after another. In these dark days, where do you stand?
When something falls, we see the value it’s held in our hearts all along, and it can cause us to repent, or at least to wonder. Maybe it was a flag or a name or a public figure. Perhaps it was a tradition or a long held opinion. As one of my devotionals this week suggested, it could even be a well-loved child. When troubles come and the furniture of our daily lives is overturned, we can more easily see the things and people we’ve made into idols, those things that come before all else. When these collapse, what will stand?
As painful as they are, these days are a gift. The Holy Spirit is moving and uncovering and bringing things to light that have been hidden far too long. This reckoning will cost us, and it hurts, but we can pray that not one stick of the furniture remains or finds its place again until the scrubbing is complete. It’s well past time for tablecloths and sweeping under rugs; it’s all got to be cleared out now without delay. And when it’s said and done, some of the coziest furniture, the stuff we found the most comfortable to live with for so many years, may well find itself on the heap, never to return to the house again. Good riddance.
When Jesus came into the temple and saw the abuses of His Father’s House, there was a holy, righteous anger. There was violence, and few words. The tables were overturned, and it was a mess, and a scary one at that. We’re living this story today, as our greed and hunger for power lie open before us, so much a part of our daily habit that we don’t even see it anymore. These tables need turning, so, amen, let it be.
When we see with clear eyes the things we hold inappropriately dear, we can start to put life in order once again. Tradition, political party, religious affiliation, these hold important places, but they’re not sacred. Wisdom, truth, holiness, our Almighty God who never fit in any box we ever made, let these take their rightful places. God is moving, and as the Spirit moves, who will stand?