Monday, July 31, 2017
Loving Care for the House of God
John 2:17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
This is the account of Jesus who, when entering Jerusalem discovers the market that has evolved around the entry to the temple. He is distraught at the condition of his Father’s house and lashes out at those desecrating its hallowed halls. Only later do the disciples truly understand what they have witnessed and they recall the Old Testament passage found in Psalm 69:9, “It is zeal for your house that has consumed me; the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
Referring to Jesus’ response, Augustine put is this way, “He then is eaten up with zeal for God’s house who desires to correct all that he sees wrong there. And if he cannot correct it, he endures and mourns. . . . Let the zeal for God’s house consume every Christian wherever he or she is a member. . . . In your house you busy yourself in trying to prevent things going wrong. In the house of God, where salvation is offered, ought you to be indifferent? . . . Do you have a friend? Admonish him gently; a wife or husband? Admonish them too. . . . Do what you are able, according to your station.” (Tractates on the Gospel of John 10.9) In other words, Jesus was moved to action by what he saw, and so should we!
Jesus’ love and care for the house of God compelled him to respond. As we reflect Christ we are driven by the zeal which drove Jesus. The word carries with it the connotation of bringing one to the boiling point. We are to bubble up with so much love for the house of God that we are eaten up by the desire to set things right.
What do I see that is out of place or not set aright in the world? From Jesus’ perspective there may be many things and Augustine helps us to begin to have a vision for what it means to be consumed by love for the things of God. This means that we cannot be indifferent to the condition of those who are lost! Where is our passion and zeal for those who are not walking with Christ? If we are consumed by our love for Christ, then we will be driven by great passion to share the good news with those who do not know him. We will pray for them. Fast for them and sacrifice for them to come to him.
When consumed by zeal for the house of the Lord we will also be concerned about the condition of the temple, which is made up of living stones. Loving care for the house of God means we become partners in the gospel who are willing to nudge one another along in our spiritual development. When we discover a weaker brother or sister, we seek out ways in which we can spur them along gently to grow in ways they may have never thought possible. We are to partner with our spouses and lovingly care for them so that they, too, may be shining reflections of Christ in this world.
Jesus knew he was the son of God, therefore he took action for what he saw occurring in his Father’s house. If you are given the opportunity, you are to use your influence for the sake of the kingdom. This is what happens when zeal for the Father’s house begins to consume us, and our desire is for the protection and loving care of the house of God. Just as Jesus took action, so we cannot sit by and do nothing, but we are compelled to become engaged in the messiness we uncover.
Lord, may your love and zeal compel me to action in this world. Amen.