Last night allegations of sexual misconduct against a well known church leader were made public. I don't know the man personally and I've never attended his church, but the news hit me like a gut punch. I've been in tears, or close to it, since hearing the news. I'm just so heartbroken. I think I've figured out why I'm taking it so hard and, really, this latest news is only one small part of a much larger problem. My family is in crisis.
If you know me you probably know that I grew up in the church. Church people loved and nurtured me. Church people are my literal, biological family and also my metaphorical family. I have more brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents than I can count. Like any family, my church family has crazy uncles, rebellious sisters and proper great aunts. Like any family, we have squabbles and disagreements. The church is my family and I love it. Every time you read a news article that says something about "Evangelicals" I want you to read that as "Kristin's Family." Do you see what I mean when I say my family is in crisis?
There's a story from the ministry of Jesus that is sometimes hard to reconcile the popular conception of Jesus as gentle and loving. This story is often called the "Cleansing of the Temple." In the gospel of John it's described this way:
"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:13-17
Can you picture Jesus doing this? This isn't the sweet Jesus with the lamb over his shoulder that you remember from Sunday School. Jesus is angry and grieved because these things that are making it more difficult for people to come to the Father. The money changers are sellers of animals are supposedly doing work that makes it easier for people to come and worship God but, in practice, they are cheating and swindling those people. They are making it more difficult for people to worship.
I wonder if Jesus is overturning some tables and scattering some money changers in the church right now? Is that part of what all this family crisis is? And then more personally, I wonder what tables need to be overturned in my own life? I would much rather take the tables down myself than wait for Jesus to come in with angry whips.
I will never stop loving the church. But I do pray for a day when we are not so broken and dysfunctional. My family is in crisis.