Why Jesus Is Not Safe But Good

Text: Luke 19:41-48

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Over the last 10 to 15 years, we have seen the rise of ‘safe spaces’ on college campuses. In case you are unfamiliar with safe spaces, let me briefly explain what they are. A safe space is a designated room on a college campus that intends to be a place free of bias, conflict, and criticism. And so, the idea is that a student can retreat to these rooms to get a reprieve from potentially threatening actions, ideas, or conversations.

Now, while older generations may be critical of these modern safe spaces, we all must admit that we all do this ourselves. We indeed carve out our own safe spaces in this life to find safety. For some people, the garage and shop are a safe space. For others, cooking in the kitchen and knitting in a bedroom are a safe space. Regardless of who you are, all of us have our various safe spaces - places where we can go to find reprieve and peace.

But unfortunately, more often than not, our safe spaces become what are known as echo chambers. Perhaps you have not heard of this term either, so let me define what an echo chamber is. It is a term that is used figuratively for a person who surrounds himself with only agreeable people. Like a room that echoes back the words spoken, a figurative echo chamber is when you surround yourself with people who will only tell you what you want to hear. To be clear, we should be very critical of these echo chambers. Think about it for a moment; what good is it for us to run to safe little spaces to always be affirmed that we are right, with pats on our heads, and never confronted with anything we do wrong?  

Yet, we Christians in America do this all the time. For example, I know of a church that essentially fired a pastor because the pastor made them feel uncomfortable. The pastor dared to tell the people what they needed to hear and not what they wanted to hear. And the people? Well, they grumbled, plotted, and then fired him. Several months later, they hired a new pastor to tell them what they wanted to hear. And so, their church was nothing more than an echo chamber that reinforced their hearts' desires and wishful thinking. What a pathetic excuse for a church; those sheep acting like goats need to repent.

This remind me of a quote from an old theologian who once said, 

“[A] community untested by any [benchmark] other than our need to huddle in groups can be demonic.”  

Now, that is a powerful quote, but it is spot on! Groups without a benchmark can be demonic because, left to ourselves, well… we only like to speak and hear things that please the desires of our own hearts. And, as we know, following the desires of our hearts is not godly, as much as the world tells us otherwise. Following our hearts can be demonic because the Prophet Jeremiah is correct when he said, 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

And so, as a part of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, you and I should not be surprised when we hear from the Bible and are offended. In fact, as we know, Jesus is not a warm cuddly teddy bear or a gushy-lovey-effeminate-man-child, who upholds the church as an echo-chamber-safe-space.  He is not in the business of tickling ears and peddling feel-good thoughts.

Consider our Gospel reading again, the temple was corrupted, and so Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things. And as we heard, Jesus did not apologize for upsetting their comfortable monopoly game. And He did not politely ask them to leave. He was not passive-aggressive, hinting at his disapproval with deep sighs and eye rolls. He did not send a memo, and he did not pass a by-law or a policy. No! He tossed them out – violently, I might add! He banished and drove out the corruption with ‘force.’ He was not tender but intense.  

From the outside, it appears that Jesus was crashing their party. However, we need to pay attention that it was not their temple to begin with. The temple was not off limits to Jesus – it wasn’t a safe space that Jesus had to respect.  They had no right to make the temple into a den of robbers. And the same goes for Christ’s church. In fact, the same goes for you as an individual Christian.   

Think of it this way. You were bought at a price. It cost Jesus His life to get you out of the clutches of sin, death, and the devil. And so, because you belong to Jesus, Jesus has every right to enter not only into this church but also into your lives to confront how you and I are ensnared to sin. Being a Christian in a Christian Church is not about having a safe space with a built-in echo chamber to make us feel warm and fuzzy – to always feel right. Lord have mercy! This is how the devil works – not Christ!  

And so, Baptized Saints, hear this! Christ has zero respect for the safe spaces that become echo chambers for our sinful old Adam. He is not a warm cuddly teddy bear or a gushy-lovey-effeminate-man-child who is only concerned about our comfort and tender ears in His church. Instead, He is the Christ who drove out the temple's corruption. He is the Christ who confronted the refuge of wickedness. And He is the Christ who invades this church and our little safe spaces to call out our sin and drive us to repentance.  

And so, churches that try to protect sensitive ears from Christ and His Word need to repent, for they are acting like a refuge of wickedness. Furthermore, pastors who dance around the difficult portions of God’s Word need to repent, for they are safeguarding a den of robbers. And finally, parishioners who blush at the Word of God or make apologies to their friends for God’s Word need to repent, for they are making the church into a resort for evil.  

Dear friends, never forget that when Jesus taught in first century Israel that many times His message offended. And so, why would it be any different today? In fact, I think it is safe to say that we should be more troubled as a church - and as Christians - when our handling of the Bible never offends us at all. If we read the Bible and are never offended, I shudder to ask – what kind of Bible are we reading, and what kind of Christ are we following?  

Now, contrary to what we might think, Jesus Christ had a purpose to drive out the corruption in the temple: the corruption did not belong in the temple to begin with. But instead, the Word of God is what belonged in the temple. In other words, the temple, Christ’s Church, and you belong to the Lord. And so, the Lord will always drive that which opposes Him from you, so that you may have Him and Him alone.  

Remember Baptized Saints, you will sin every day, just like your pastors. However, you do not belong to your sin, but you belong to Jesus. You and your sins have been buried with Jesus, and you have been resurrected to newness of life. And so, your Good Jesus will always come against sin, so that you and I may be continually freed from sin’s condemnation and placed right back where we belong – with Christ and His forgiveness. To paraphrase the Old Testament Prophet, Hosea, 

“The Lord will hit you hard, but He will put you right again; He may hurt you, but He will surely heal you.”  

And so, here at St. Paul’s, let us be bold to welcome the Lord in popping our safe-space bubbles so that we may be safe in Him. Indeed, may the Lord break our little echo chambers into a thousand pieces so we may hear His voice and His voice alone. May He invade St. Paul’s Lutheran Church every single week and drive out everything that is not good, right, and salutary amongst you and me, so that He may deliver true peace to you and me alone through His Word and Sacraments. 

Baptized Saint, you are forgiven. You are safe and secure with Christ and His Word of eternal truth so that you can hang upon Him and His Word alone, no matter what comes your way.   No need for a safe space, as you have Christ.  No need for an echo chamber, as you have Christ’s Word.  

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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