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Shaking the Tables

You could tell they were powerful questions by the silence in that crowded conference room in Haiti. I empathized with the mostly Haitian audience because, in a poor country like theirs, non-profit organizations are not the domain of do-gooders and virtue-signaling philanthropists. Non-profits are practically the only “game” in town. Most of the staff members present were the only ones from their extended families to go to school, hold jobs, and bring home a regular paycheck – a responsibility that came with certain expectations. The pressure to use their positions to benefit friends and family was enormous, which helps to explain why the morning’s devotional and application questions had struck a nerve.

We had been reading the story of Jesus driving the vendors and money changers from the temple courts. The reason Jesus gave for this rare display of holy aggression was that the people were disrespecting a sacred institution by using it for financial gain. Something that had been established for one purpose was instead being used for another. The problem was not so much that the money changers were there, it was why they were there, and Jesus wasn’t having it, tossing over their tables in a righteous rebuke of their motivations and the poor condition of their hearts. So now the application questions for our group: Why was this particular institution (the non-profit where we all worked) established? What is its purpose? And what would Jesus do if he showed up to evaluate our faithfulness to it? After a long pause, one brave staff member spoke up, “Maybe Jesus wouldn’t overturn the tables, but he would shake them!” The room erupted in laughter as this response seemed to have the ring of truth.    

While non-profit workers in Haiti probably face a very different set of circumstances than those in your context, Jesus’ message is equally as powerful and as relevant. What pressures are you up against? Pressures to meet organizational targets, or even to make ends meet? Perhaps they’re personal – to secure your retirement or pay down a mortgage. Kid’s education? Health insurance? “…Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:32-33)

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