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Our Den of Thieves?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

Mark 11:17

Yesterday I began reflecting on Jesus’ so-called “cleansing” of the Temple in Mark 11. I noted how Jesus explained his unexpected and unwelcome behavior by quoting two Old Testament prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah. From Jeremiah, Jesus borrowed the description of the Temple as a “den of thieves” (see Jer. 7:11).

In the day of Jeremiah, the Temple had become like a den of thieves. The people felt they could hide, safely protected from divine judgment, because they had access to the Temple, the place where God himself was said to dwell. They thought they could “steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal” because, after committing all of these gross sins, they could escape to the sanctuary of the Temple (Jer. 7:9). But, through Jeremiah, God delivered the bad news that the Temple was not just a hideout. The people would soon be judged for their sin, and the Temple would be destroyed.

As I read Jeremiah 7 and Mark 11, I wonder if I can let my own faith become a “den of thieves.” Because I have a relationship with God through faith in Christ, do I let myself off the hook when it comes to living rightly? Do I neglect the call to justice because of my faith in Jesus? Do I ignore the needs of others because I am safe in God?

True faith in God through Jesus Christ does not hide from the world and its needs. It does not bless or even excuse unrighteousness and injustice, though it does offer forgiveness. Rather, authentic Christian faith will be expressed in good works that God has prepared for us (see Eph. 2:8-10). We will seek, by God’s power, to flee from sin and to live in God’s presence so that we might serve him in every arena of life. Our faith should never become a den of thieves, but rather a “house of prayer” for all people, so that others might be drawn to God through us.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Are you ever tempted to let your faith become like a den of thieves? When? How? What helps your faith motivate you to right living rather than shield you from God’s desires for your life?

PRAYER: O Lord, I know that sometimes I let my faith in you serve as a “den of thieves.” Since I am confident in your love and forgiveness, I can easily do that which dishonors you. Perhaps even more often, I can fail to do that which you have asked of me. Forgive me, Lord.

May my confidence in your grace never give me an excuse to sin. Rather, may your grace stir up in me a hatred of all that offends you. And may your Spirit help me to turn from sin even as I turn to you.

Help me, Lord, to let my relationship with you be an impetus for righteousness. Give me eyes to see the needs of people around me, indeed, of people throughout the world. May I open my heart to those in need or in prison, to those who are hungry or lost. By your Spirit, move me to reach out to them with your love and grace.

Though you are indeed my hiding place, Lord, may my faith in you never become my den of thieves. Amen.

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Your Work Matters

What if your work is drudgery? What if getting out of bed to head to your daily grind is just about to push you over the edge? What if Monday morning always arrives with a feeling a dread? We all want to feel as of the work we're doing is meaningful. We want it to fill us up, and we pray it makes a difference in the world for good. But what if you're stuck in a job that has nothing to do with what you feel called to do? What if you feel trapped and discouraged? In the series, Your Work Matters, we'll be asking some of these same questions. We don't promise to have all (or any) of the answers, but we encourage you to wrestle with these tough and painful issues, right along with us. Tell us your story. Offer your wisdom, and come away encouraged that you are not alone, and that God sees you, right where you are.

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