In the fall of 1989, I moved from Champaign, Illinois to the Chicago suburbs, and through my contacts at the church I had begun attending (Willow Creek) I found a guy with an apartment looking for a roommate. His name was C.W., and he was an accountant for Arthur Anderson in Chicago.
I lived with C.W. for about a year or so, but the truth is that we never got along really well. We didn’t argue that much. We were just different, I guess. He was a good guy, mind you. He loved God and was excited about his involvement at Willow, so we had that in common. But there were other areas where C.W. was just different than me.
The most obvious had to do with what C.W. was really into, what he was really fired up about. You see, C.W. loved Walt Disney. I mean he really loved Walt Disney. He’d been to Disney World a number of times and probably Disney land also. As far as I can remember, he had most all of the movies. He had pictures of Mickey and the gang around the apartment. He loved all things Mickey. And he talked about it. Quite a bit. And his long term goal? He eventually wanted to work in Orlando for Disney world. You could say that C.W. had a zeal for Walt Disney.
There are a lot of different things that you and I can get enthused and zealous about. In fact, I would say that we were made to be a people of zeal. But the question is, are we zealous over the right things?
John chapter 2 tells us something significant about the Lord Jesus – He too had a zeal, a powerful zeal.
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. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” John 2:13-16 (ESV)
Six Flags and the Temple
If you’ve ever needed to buy an overpriced lunch at Six Flags, you know what the people were experiencing when they went to the temple. Prices for sacrificial animals were exorbitant, largely because merchants knew they had a captive audience. And when Jesus saw this, He was incensed – their high prices were keeping people from…worship.
So John wrote: His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:17 (ESV)
Step back and consider this: Jesus was zealous about the temple, because Jesus was zealous for worship. And Jesus was zealous for worship…because Jesus was zealous for God. And since John 1 has already told us Who Jesus is, it is no leap to say that God was zealous…for God. In fact, God is absolutely fired up about God.
So, if we are called to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1), then there is no question what you and me should be fired up about.
In His book, God is the Gospel, John Piper asks a haunting question which I paraphrase…if heaven meant all the food you would want to eat, all the best entertainment, all the beautiful sunrises and the best music, all your old friends gathered in one place…a constant, joyous party. If you could have all that, and yet God wasn’t there, would you still want to go?
You see, ultimately, to be fired up about God is to be fired up about being with Him. As one writer put it, “Forgiveness is good news because it opens the way to the enjoyment of God Himself…Eternal life is good news because it becomes the everlasting enjoyment of Christ.”
That’s what the Psalmist was saying when he wrote this:
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. Psalm 84:10 (ESV)
Yep, just one day with Him, well, it’s even better than a thousand days…at Disney.
For tomorrow, Wednesday, October 7: John 3