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Zeal Flips Tables

Jesus wasn't always Mr. Nice Guy. Church leaders shouldn't be either.
Zeal Flips Tables
Image: Seth Hahne

When I was a kid, Jesus’ cleansing of the merchants and money-lenders in the temple was one of my favorite gospel stories. I mean, think about it. Jesus gets mad, makes a whip out of a rope, drives out livestock, and busts up a bunch of hucksters trying to turn a profit on the worship of God? It’s got everything a little boy could want: Jesus the fighter, with a zeal for justice and the MacGyver-like ability to turn a twine into a lash of righteousness.

Later on, though, I came to appreciate the text for a different reason: what it could tell me about emotions and Christianity. Far too often, being a Christian is associated with being passive, meek (in the doormat sense), and generally stifling every emotion that can’t be cleanly expressed in a G-C-D chord worship song. A whip-cracking Jesus, on the other hand, is anything but passive.

Of course, we can take anger too far—giving ourselves permission to “vent” or “let off steam” could too easily ...

July/August
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