I Was Thinking…
Have you ever been so angry that you wanted to throw furniture? We certainly know that is possible, after all, Jesus turned over tables in the temple! I confess that I once slammed a door so hard that it knocked the door trim loose.
Anger is a God-given emotion. However, it is an emotion that doesn’t live far from destruction and sin. What we can learn from Jesus is that anger is appropriate in moments when the ‘least and lost’ of this world are being oppressed and/or abused. Jesus observed and thus knew the sacred space of temple was being desecrated by those who only were interested in selfish gain. (Matthew 21:12, Mark 11:15 and John 2:14 ff) It was then, and only then, that Jesus threw furniture.
I was a 20/20 High School JV Basketball player. (20/20 means I was called upon to play when our team was either 20 points ahead or 20 points behind the other team). I have played sports all of my life and I know the juices of competition. But the recent game ending brawl between the University of Kansas and Kansas State basketball teams was a disgrace. Rival teams do disdain each other but hardly any of such competitive games end in melees that show players about to hit another in the head with a stool. Sports Illustrated wrote, “The whole thing was an embarrassment to a great basketball rivalry.” Yes, it was!
Yet, such things do happen and when they do, consequences follow, and ugly memories leave a ‘bad taste’ of regret in everyone’s mouths.
Last week I attended the General Conference Pre-Briefing in Nashville, Tennessee. It was obvious to me that there are many, many delegates who were deeply scarred by the rhetoric of the St. Louis called General Conference last February. There is a sense that we United Methodist must find our way or our witness for the Kingdom of God will experience more irreparable damage. There is a palatable commitment to seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance in finding our way. Yes, there are differing opinions. Many of those opinions are impassioned by differences in biblical interpretation. Yet my spirit requires of me a question (maybe you too) ...Are we at the place of Jesus, throwing furniture on behalf of the least and lost? Or are we simply holding up stools in the air because our side isn’t winning?
I sense empathy and understanding is moving into and through many hearts and minds. Thank you for your prayers as those of us called to the task do our very best to recognize the voice of God among many voices. I have one certainty in and among these uncertain times…God is able! “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)