At the age of 23, I had to make a decision to leave a church community that was doing something I felt was objectionable. Though I hardly crafted a whip and made a scene in the narthex, I did refuse to be complicit in some very real, very destructive, patterns in the congregation. It was hard to do; and to this day, some friendships are strained. Others have been lost entirely.
As I look back in the decade since that time, there were things I could have done differently. I could have been less strident; though I do not imagine a scenario where I would have stayed in this congregation. Is this congregation still doing Jesus’ work? In many ways, yes, of course. And so am I. But I must admit that at the time, and still today, I long for more than a truce. I long for a transformation.
Perhaps the zeal that Jesus speaks of in this coming Sunday’s lesson (John 2:13-22) will consume all of us at one time or another. Yet I pray that zeal might be productive and not destructive, refining and purifying our desires, so that the truth of the Gospel shines more brightly.
God of all communities of faith: stand in our Temples. Take inventory of our practices. Then show us how zeal and love are related. Amen.