|Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas||Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor|
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God intends Hillcrest to be a worshipping church and a welcoming church. He wants us busy worshipping him and welcoming those who seek him.
And Jesus reacts forcefully against those who would divert his church's attention from his Father's intention. That's the lesson we learn from the famous account of Jesus "cleansing" the Temple.
I distinctly remember how unsettling it was to first discover this story from the life of Jesus. As a small boy, I remember flipping through my Bible and coming across a full-color painting of an angry Jesus in the Temple. His left hand powerfully gripped a table he was flipping over; his right hand brandished a whip raised over his head. In the portrait, people scrambled to escape his anger, scattering coins and startling animals as they ran.
The picture didn't frighten me. I just remember wanting to know what made Jesus so angry since I had been taught that he was so gentle and approachable.
What made Jesus so angry was seeing how far the Jerusalem Temple had come from God's intentions. "Is it not written," he said, quoting Scripture, "'My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations'?" (Mark 11:17)
There's a lesson here for our congregation. God intends us to be "a house of prayer... for all the nations." The first phrase speaks of worship, while the second phrase speaks of welcome.
First, Hillcrest is to be a place of worship. The purpose of our Sunday morning gatherings is nothing less than to have an encounter with the Lord of life. Our music, our Bible studies, even our offering and fellowship time, are all designed with the expectation that God will meet with us.
Second, Hillcrest is to be a place of welcome. When Jesus explained his violent actions in the Temple, he quoted from Isaiah 56, and the whole chapter is about God's aim of bringing in those who were still outside. In the center of the chapter God said, "My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations," and then added, "I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered"
Let's make sure that what we want church to be matches what God wants church to be. This Sunday, we'll look at this story as it appears in Matthew 21. Join us together @ 10!
Weblog: Check out my blog, "Get Anchored." Some things to look for...
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