I can trust Jesus to overturn the money-changers’ tables, not myself

August 30, 2013

Unlike most people on the inter-webs this week, I’ve so far avoided commenting on you-know-who. What’s the point? I can’t pretend to feel indignant, or shocked, or offended by the performance. I go to movies. I watch TV. I read books. I have the internet piped into my home. I know what’s out there and what’s in my heart. Who am I to be indignant?

Also, I can’t add anything to the helpful things that have been said, nor can I take away the harmful things that have been said. I liked this post from Christianity Today‘s “Her•meneutics” blog (as I usually like posts from that blog). This Vanity Fair piece is good, too. And this from the Onion A.V. Club.

Everything about the story depresses me when I think about it too much. Hard to believe there was a time 50 years ago when Bob Dylan, out of principle, walked away from performing on the top-rated Ed Sullivan Show because the network censors wouldn’t let him perform the satirical “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues.” Like Miley Cyrus, he was controversial—but the good kind of controversial, related to actual ideas.

Those were the days! Instead we’re stuck with today’s pop culture. We’ve clearly lost something.

I’ll probably say something about the controversy in this Sunday’s sermon, because the response to Miley Cyrus ties into this week’s scripture about specks and planks, etc. In the meantime, I just read these helpful words from Dallas Willard:

Although [Jesus] certainly let his condemnation fall upon self-righteous and deeply corrupted leaders (Matt. 23; Luke 11:29-54), we never see it in other contexts. And we can trust him to express it appropriately toward such people, though we ourselves could rarely if ever do so. Anger and condemnation, like vengeance, are safely left to God. We must beware of believing that it is okay for us to condemn as long as we are condemning the right things. It is not so simple as that. I can trust Jesus to go into the temple and drive out those who were profiting from religion, beating them with a rope. I cannot trust myself to do so.[†]

Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy (New York: HarperOne, 1997), 220-1.

4 Responses to “I can trust Jesus to overturn the money-changers’ tables, not myself”

  1. Tom Harkins Says:

    Brent, I read the “Her-meneutics” piece you tagged. While I like a lot of what it said, I think it draws back too much from a certain type of “condemnation” which I believe is biblically correct. Here is the comment I posted there:

    I would comment on what Joseph Bonacci noted above: “They can judge but we can’t because we are Christians.” I know Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged,” but did not Paul “judge” Peter as recounted in Galatians for hypocrisy? Also, Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more.” I don’t believe we are precluded from pointing out sin to sinners (saved or lost) and saying God forbids such conduct and you will be facing bad consequences if you don’t change. “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” Jesus said. Paul pointed out the moral degeneracy of homosexuality and lesbianism in Romans 1. What he pointed up in Romans 2, and what I think Jesus was getting at in “judge not,” was that we sometimes do the “same things.” We are not being humble or reasonable when we seek to justify ourselves for taking actions similar to that which we condemn in others. That’s what is wrong. Telling Miley she is acting reprehensibly and should stop is not wrong.

    • brentwhite Says:

      Willard talks about the “biblically correct” kind of condemnation, and says that most of us Christians aren’t prepared to do it without condemning ourselves in the process. I fear that we Christians tend to reinterpret every principle that Jesus lays down in the Sermon on the Mount so that it doesn’t apply to me in this particular instance. I’m definitely including myself here.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Recognized. (Perhaps I have to be careful what I say in condemnation to Miley about her dancing if I am watching Miley’s dancing in the first place.)

  2. brentwhite Says:

    Of course!

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