Have you ever noticed that it’s a lot more fun to clean someone else’s house than to clean your own? It makes you feel good to help them. Plus, you know that you only have to clean this one time; they will have to do it day after day. But the reality is that we need to take responsibility for our own house and keep it clean. It’s OK to help others when they want help, but we need to leave the cleaning to them.
Spiritually speaking, we can accumulate a lot of “junk” in our lives. This junk keeps us from really focusing on God the way that we should. It keeps us from making an impact for Christ the way that God intends. It holds us back from being all that God wants us to be. This can happen to individuals and it can happen to churches.
There is good news: Jesus is an expert at cleaning house.
We see Him doing it in the first century in the temple. His house-cleaning at the temple wasn’t received with enthusiasm by everyone because it disrupted their junk-filled way of life in the temple. But there were some on that day that were amazed by what He did. They were the ones who were humble enough to be amazed by His teaching and His demonstrations of God’s love.
Don’t forget that Jesus always does everything with pure motives, with the right attitude, with the purpose of connecting people to God. Or to say it another way: God cleans house because He loves us. And because He created us, He is uniquely qualified to clean our house any time He wants. So with that in mind, read the account of Jesus cleansing the temple and then some observations and applications for us today.
Mark 11:15-18 (HCSB)
15 They came to Jerusalem, and He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves, 16 and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple complex. 17 Then He began to teach them: “Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves!” 18 Then the chief priests and the scribes heard it and started looking for a way to destroy Him. For they were afraid of Him, because the whole crowd was astonished by His teaching.
1. The people of Jesus’ day should have been grateful for the way He cleaned house. He helped them to see that there was clutter keeping them from properly focusing on God. They had allowed the temple complex to become a marketplace. Their greed had turned even the exchange of foreign currency for the temple tax into an opportunity to steal from people. They had lost focus. Greed. Clutter. Distractions. Sound familiar? Got any of that junk? Are you grateful when Jesus cleans house in your life to remove similar junk?
2. Jesus refocuses their attention on the original purpose of the temple building. It wasn’t about religious ritual. It was intended to be a place where people from all nations could meet with God, a house of prayer for all the nations. This is a great thing that Jesus does. And it reminds me that God wants each one of us to be connected to Him through Christ, and to live each day focused on Him, praying for all the nations, and telling people from all the nations that they can know Him through Jesus Christ.
3. No doubt that each church should examine everything that they are doing to see if there is any clutter or distractions or junk in the way, keeping people from connecting with God through Christ. Traditions, practices, or even ministries may need to be stopped or severely cleaned out.
4. Also, daily each of us as Christ-followers should present ourselves to God and let Him do a little “house cleaning” in us. This will ensure that we are having the kind of amazing life that God intends for us to have, pointing others to Christ and really making a difference in the world.
1 Peter 2:1-5 (HCSB)
1 So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for ⌊your⌋ salvation, 3 since you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— 5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Romans 12:1-2 (HCSB)
1 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Take a moment in prayer. Ask God to cleanse you. Remember: He cleans house because He loves us. Thank Him for caring enough about you to “clean house” in your life. Be changed. Continue to walk in right relationship with Him. Be a light to all the nations, and a living example of a life properly cleaned and focused on God.