Making a whip of cords, Jesus drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” – John 2:15-16
It is amazing how much we want to make Jesus into the person we want him to be. Filled with love, gentle Jesus embraces everyone and welcomes all into the kingdom of God. While I do believe that Jesus’ mission is to welcome all into the kingdom of God, it is not always easy work and it sometimes involves more than a hug from lovable Jesus.
The truth is, there are things that make God angry, disappointed and disgusted with humanity. There are times when God, out of love that is shaped by a commitment to the Reign of God, has to shake things up and remind us that God does have an opinion about a lot of things in the world. God is not neutral on how we treat one another, how we use or abuse one another, how we greedily cling to our stuff rather than live generous and abundant lives, and how many other things take place. And yes, God wants followers of Jesus to see and dream about the world from God’s eyes, not just our own.
So nothing makes God more disappointed, disgusted and angry than when those who profess to be followers of Jesus blatantly and somewhat “in your face,” get it wrong. When there is injustice around us and the church is silent or even condones it, God is angry. When there is money taken in by the church for “religious” reasons and then it is squandered or even worse, flat out wasted for the pleasures of religious people, God is angry.
Religion is supposed to be on God’s side. Christianity has a claim on actually being the “body of Christ” for the world. When we miss the mark, God is disappointed. Grace abounds. But when we flat out do what we know is wasteful and extravagant for no good reason and ignore the desires of God for faith to put “God first.” God can be angry – even at us.
Anger doesn’t mean love isn’t present. In fact, it is because God cares and has a dream for us that God cares enough to even get angry. But likewise, grace doesn’t excuse missing the mark. There is a dance to be danced out of love. It is a dance between Christ’s gracious acceptance and Spirit-led but accountable transformation. The gospel is not one or the other – it is both.