At the beginning of the New Year, there are plenty of tips in magazines to help you with your resolutions. Weight loss tips abound, but it now seems that there is a lot of information on helping you to organize your workspace and get rid of clutter in your life. True anti-clutter freaks pride themselves on having open, clean, and organized lives. It is rare to find two married people who both hate clutter. Usually one is as neat and clean as like Felix Unger of the Odd Couple, while the other is like Oscar Madison.
I have come to the conclusion that Jesus is a bona fide clutter-hater. Now, I do not like to identify Jesus with the word hate, although we know God hates sin. I think I stand on solid ground to suggest that Jesus hates clutter. In the opening chapters of his gospel, John relates a story that proves my point. Notice as you read this passage that Jesus is very politically incorrect. He exhibits anger (righteous anger), he violates several peoples’ personal space, he makes judgments, and actually throws people out of a religious place.
John 2:14-17 In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market! 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
Jesus clearly despises the religious clutter that accumulates in our lives and churches. He found His Father’s house filled with people who were making a financial killing selling sacrifices to out-of-towners and to frankly lazy worshippers. This sale of sacrifices destroys the very concept of a personal sacrifice to the Lord. We also see that there were money changers. Anyone who has ever traveled out of this country knows that if you exchange money, you stand a good chance of being cheated. The same was true then. There was a third, grievous action taking place daily in God’s temple. It seems that because the temple was the center of life in Jerusalem, working people carrying burdens and heavy loads had to maneuver around the Temple area. Someone relaxed the rules and maybe for a small fee allowed them to save time and carry their loads right through the Temple area. Jesus was outraged. Zeal for the house of God consumed Him.
Zeal for His Father’s House still consumes Jesus. It no doubt grieves the LORD when His church places things, even good things, in the way of people meeting God. 2007 is a great time to get organized, uncluttered and start taking worship seriously.
Let me make a few simple suggestions:
Let’s be like John the Baptist, another clutter-hater. Matthew 3:3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ “
© 2007 Ed Litton
Dr. Ed Litton has serves as Lead Pastor of Redemption Church (formerly First Baptist North Mobile) since 1994. Ed began ministry as a church planter in Arizona and came to First Baptist North Mobile in 1994. Ed and his wife, Tammy, planted the Mountain View Baptist Church in 1987 and saw God bless the birth and establishment of an effective evangelistic church.
Ed holds a B.A. in Religion & Theatre from Grand Canyon University, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In 2007 Ed and his family suffered a devastating loss when his wife, Tammy, was suddenly killed in an automobile accident. He later married Kathy Ferguson, a pastor’s wife who suffered a similar loss and now leads a ministry to church planters’ wives through the North American Mission Board.