Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jesus and the Moneychangers in the Temple

In case you haven't noticed, I love getting news from the General United Methodist Church. One of my favorite ways to spend my lunch hour is to read the GBCS emails, which I did yesterday. Jim Winkler, the GBCS General Secretary, wrote about the Occupy Together movement currently sweeping the nation. The title of his essay was "Occupying the Temple."  He writes,

"The dream of upward mobility based on hard work appears to be slipping away for many. The system is gamed in favor of those with money and connections. When money buys political power and corruption is the norm, young people lose faith in democracy. A whole generation is losing faith. Occupy Wall Street is an example of the response. Those involved are creating a participatory democracy. It’s old fashioned people power. Like Jesus, they are occupying the temple of the moneychangers. If a nation's leaders won’t address an intractable problem, the people will."

What Winkler means by "occupying the temple of the moneychangers" is that the Occupy movement is going directly to today's temples- the financial districts of our cities. One thing I learned in seminary is that the temple (Jewish and pagan) were essentially banks. They were where people's money was kept safe, and a mini-market was inside, where people could buy things they needed, including animals for sacrifice. And the religious officials- pharisees and sadducees- were in charge. When Jesus went into the temple and overturned the tables of the moneychangers (Matt 21), that was a political action. When he said, " ‘It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a den of robbers," he was saying, "Something is very wrong here!" That was an audacious thing to do when he was being watched by the religious officials!

a sign I saw recently at Occupy Boston
 photo is mine
That is what those who participate in Occupy movements around the country are doing. They are saying that something is very wrong. It's not fair that those at the top are hoarding all the resources while the rest of us suffer. It's not justice. And our God is a God of justice. If we are on the side of God, we are also on the side of those who are poor and suffering. When those who have power and authority are misusing that power, it's time to challenge the status quo. There is a time for everything, and even Jesus knew that there are appropriate times to challenge those in charge- when things aren't right. Jesus was being a rabble-rouser! And he did it because he cares about those in need.

Perhaps a little holy rabble rousing isn't beyond our purview as the people of God. Have you ever felt angry about something that wasn't right?

No comments:

Post a Comment