Perpetually cleansing the Temple

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He made a whip from cords and drove them all out of the Temple grounds, the sheep and cattle as well. He knocked over the money-changers’ tables, scattering their coins.

John 2:15

I am a member in a very diverse international WhatsApp group of Christian leaders from all over the world. It is apparent that we come from different streams of life and different streams of Christianity as well as have very different cultural backgrounds. But it is even more apparent that we have worldviews that are worlds apart, even though we all share the Christian narrative and tradition.

In this group, one and the same person posted a very aggressive “us v them” message from a prophet that proclaimed supernatural ways that the US election would get fixed and God’s chosen man still would have his second term, and then a message of peace for Christmas, quoting this portion of scripture:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.

Isa 9:6-7

This made me think. And I think, it should make you think too.

When we look at Christianity worldwide, they, or at least the most visible and audible of them, seem to be in midst of a battle. And it is not only now, but has been like this for years.

This battle cry of theirs has become louder since 2016, and certainly has augmented volume again in 2020, interpreting CoViD-19 as the beginning of the tribulation and Biden as the representation of evil.

I do not want to question the content of their message. Which does not mean that I agree with it. It is just not my focus today.

I want to have a look at the bigotry of the combination of the two messages and the tone and connotations this portrays.

When I heard the phrase “supernatural ways to fix the election”, I was reminded of prophecies that saw Joe Biden in a coffin by December 20th. I do not propose that this prophet was going down that route and implied death and destruction as God’s means to fix the election. It just worried me, that, even though I do not consciously follow the prophetic voices these days giving explanations of the time we are in, my mind went to this association so easily, almost automatically. That shows me how Christianity is perceived nowadays

This for me shows how much certain prophecy has become entangled with politics. And it shows me with how much hatred and distaste we are ready to talk about what we see as the enemy.

It also shows me that God is seemingly not in power at all. He cannot rig an election himself (excuse my choice of language) because he would never do that, after having given us free will. Maybe he could have if we had prayed enough? Because, certainly, enough prayer will open up the possibility for him to change the outcome of an election. But now that we failed by not praying enough, and he therefore lost this election to the devil, he will certainly change things around supernaturally.

If God is all-knowing and all-foreseeing, why not just overrule the will of the American people in the first place? To teach us to defend our worldview and force it on others more fervently?

I calculated some things.

Jesus had a public ministry that lasted about 3.5 years. That is some 30’000 hours, of which he probably slept 10’000. During the rest of the time, he spent just about 1, maybe 2 hours cleansing the temple, and a whooping 0 hours attacking the political system of his time. He spent some time confronting the religious system of his time. But most of the time, he was loving on and helping people, right into, through and past his own death.

This is what the verses in Isaiah are talking about: everlasting father, prince of peace. Even mighty God, a God that is in charge with the government on his shoulder no matter who is governing in the White House.

Maybe we have confused the political system, or the nation called the USA, for the Kingdom of God. We have been imprinted that way since Christianity became married to Rome and Christendom was born. By the way, it does not only happen in the US. It’s just so obvious there. But we in Switzerland also want to fix our problems through laws and policing, power of state, and the right politicians.

No worldly system or nation is the implementation of the Kingdom of Christ on this earth, neither the US nor Israel nor Denmark or Switzerland.

Looking around today, I answered in the WhatsApp group, I feel as if Christmas is just a break we take from perpetually trying to cleanse the temple. This is a complete reversal of God’s plan and a 180° departure from Jesus’ personality, life and aim.

Jesus told us to love our enemies. When you think that through, loving your enemies means to not regard them as your enemies, as we certainly do not fight people, but mindsets and spirits. In consequence, from your point of view, you do not have any enemies. They might see themselves that way, but not you. You love them.

To become christlike is to bring peace. Yes, we can share our worldview, confront those that should know better, and teach those that are open for our teaching, and at times that might include some cleansing of the temple. But overall, we are here to love on people, help them, and be willing to die for them.

Christmas is the start of a plan to love people back, even if it means our own death.

Did Jesus not tell us to turn the other cheek?

But all this is just an extreme outflow of a mindset that is dualistic in nature. If you look at the world through the eyes of right and wrong, you have to distinguish between those that are right and those that are wrong. You soon equate these groups with good and evil, and you start to develop a mentality of us versus them. You are on a mission to overcome evil by showing them how wrong they are. And there must be a personification of evil, because those people cannot be the cause of evil as we do not fight against flesh and blood. But they certainly are the tools of evil and must be converted or kept from power, kept in line. Our values have to be forced on them for their own good.

If you look at the world through the eyes of love, you might come to similar conclusions, but the tools of your warfare will be very different. And over time, your worldview will change as well, and the dualistic us versus them will go away.

Let me give you an example of what is happening. For some it will be hard to swallow, but cut me some slack here, please.

Progressives love people. They have a vision of the world where we can live together in peace and harmony, and they believe, at least in the beginning, that they can persuade everybody of their opinion through reasoning, consent, and harmony. Their tools of persuasion originally are words, painting a picture. But they get frustrated over time, as they see that words do not change people and some people, no matter how beautiful the utopia, don’t buy their ideas.

They return to methods that people have used during all those millenniae humanity exists: mere force. Starting with cancellation (a modern form of beheading those that do not agree) right to riots and looting.

Why am I telling you this?

We Christians are no different. We have the word, and we try to convince people with words. We do not use harmony and consent, but hierarchical ex-cathedra teaching, rules and regulations, and a sense of belonging. And at times we are more than frustrated and fall back into methods that have been used in more barbaric worldviews. There are quite a few examples in history, like the crusades and the inquisition. Today, we are a bit more civilized. We pray for supernatural ways to overturn the will of the people. But it seems as if we were down spiraling and have to watch that all this does not become violent and bloody.

But then, we think God is the same way. He has the Logos, the word to teach us, but he loses patience at the end and reverts to mere violence to try to get people back, and if they still do not listen, he will give us over to eternal punishment.

Marx and Engels had a vision of a peaceful way for people to live together, but Lenin and especially Stalin did not have the patience to wait for it to happen and reverted to violence.

All they did is model the God most believe in. Did they overstep their boundaries? Yes. Because we know that it is only God that can punish when time is up, and only he decides on the timing.

I hope that we have the patience. We have a vision of heaven on earth. Are we willing to usher it in in love and patience?

Or is it more important to be right and have our rights? Jesus certainly was right and had all right to live. But look at the impact he had by not insisting on his rights, but loving even if it meant death. His death, not the death of his enemy.

Have a blessed Christmas.

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Categorized as Kingdom

By Ralph Rickenbach

Accompanyist | Pastor in Exile | Iconoclast — I am a Gallup certified CliftonStrengths coach and a Spiral Dynamics practitioner.