Christian outrage online. A Christian crankily confronting a false teacher. Another angrily acting out against another Christian or local church. These are all usually justified by someone saying, “Hey, Jesus flipped tables over in the temple. He was sick of the bad spirituality in his Father’s house. He confronted those in error. I’m just acting like Jesus.”
And then another usually responds, “But you aren’t the Son of God. We don’t have sinless, righteous anger or perfect judgment.”
So, who is right here? Are we allowed to imitate Jesus and flip tables? Well, I think we should be flipping tables and acting like Jesus. But I think we have the wrong temple in mind.
If we want to be like Jesus and flip over tables and confront hypocritical religion in the temple, let’s redial our understanding of what the temple is—who it is. Ourselves.
Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Cor 3:16)
Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body. (1 Cor 6:19–20)
The location for whip-making and removing impure religion is our own hearts. Drive out sinful cravings. Flip out over the idolatry presented within. Crack whips over the things that need to be confessed. Remove the high places in the low places of our spirituality.
Jesus and Paul show us that the chief place to confront and drive out hypocrisy isn’t on social media. Of course, there is a time for refuting false teaching and error. But since we are now God’s temple, if we miss paying attention to our own lives, our bodies, and our hearts, we will have missed the nature of true religion. Just like the Pharisees.
Let’s flip tables like our Lord. Pursuing righteousness in the court of our spirituality—the heart. We are God's temple. Remove the money changers, the things we’ve allowed to set up shop that have no business conducting business in our Father’s house—us. Jesus shows us that he wants to drive out what doesn't belong. And he wants to do the same with us. His cross hands us the whip. His empty tomb shows us how to swing.