Divine Commodities | John 2.13-14
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money changers sitting there.
John 2:13-14 | ESV
And now it was nearly time: the time of the Jewish Passover, the annual “Lamb’s Ordeal” celebration. And Jesus ascended from the armpit of Galilee to the resplendent head of power and worship in Jerusalem, the City of Peace. And what did he find in the temple? Business in full swing. Big business. Sellers marketing oxen and sheep and doves – all temple approved for sacrifice. And, what’s that, you don’t have the authorized temple coinage? No worries! Moneychangers are standing by – actually, they are sitting in their booths ready to convert foreign currency into holy coin for only a small fee; but wait, there’s more!
But Jesus didn’t wait. He couldn’t take one more minute of it. MAV
“When I have a terrible need of – shall I say the word – religion, then I go and paint the stars.” ~ van Gogh
“Not long ago I was attending a ministry conference at a very large church. The setting was impressive by any measure. The mammoth auditorium sat thousands in cushioned theater seats rising heavenward. Wherever I looked a dozen flat-panel displays crammed my field of vision with presenters flashing their high-definition smiles. And the stage was alive, a mechanical beast to behold. It was moving fluidly, breathing smoke, and shooting lasers through its digital chameleon skin. The band members were spread across the platform as jagged teeth in the beast’s mouth, and the drummer was precariously suspended from the ceiling like a pagan offering. But even this spectacle could not hold me. In fact, with each passing minute I felt a growing need to escape.” ~ Skye Jethani, The Divine Commodity
Jethani’s book The Divine Commodity is a pastor’s contemplation on American corporate church life, overlaid on the life story of Vincent van Gogh. It’s been one of those reads that has stuck with me, probably because he made van Gogh stick with me. After reading The Divine Commodity I began looking for yellow in my world – yellow being the color of the divine for van Gogh. In his famous work Starry Night, the stars are bright yellow, there’s yellow in the moon, in the swirling clouds, in the lights in the sleepy town. But in the middle of the town, conspicuously, the church is yellowless, its windows dark. From van Gogh’s vantage point, the church right at the center of town had a closed existence, living unto itself, more about power games and good business than caring for the poor. Jethani quotes Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the Senate: “In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next it moved to Europe where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.” We might challenge the church to be more green, but perhaps the reality is in this country and culture, too many churches are far too green already in a totally different sense. As Jesus surveyed those temple courtyards he probably would have said the color was more metallic. Bronze. Silver. Gold. But he was looking for yellow. We want to avoid yellow in old photographs – and if we want to insult someone we call them “yellow.” But this kind of yellow we desperately need. The church of Jesus needs to be yellowed. Perhaps we can see Jesus’ clearing of those temple courtyards through such an artistic lens: the Divine Artist furiously clears the canvas, cleansing it of its metallic hues, so it can be splattered with bold streaks of dazzling Divine Yellow…
How present are yellow hues in your church, your home, your heart? What needs to be cleared off the canvas in each area so that a fresh Divine painting can begin?
Lord, color my world, my heart, my vision with bold, bright splashes of the Divine. Save me from the trap of turning you into an enterprise; clear the canvas of my life and splatter your goodness and mercy in broad, wild, streaks on me, in me, through me. Through Christ.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.