You’re Not the Boss of Me!
Wailing: “You’re not the boss of me!”
That’s the classic childhood response to being told something we don’t want to hear, but have no defense against. When challenged and feeling trapped, we respond by challenging the authority of the one challenging us. That’s what the Temple authorities did to Jesus.
Right before the Gospel lesson for this Sunday (click here to read it), we hear of Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers and driving them out of the Temple. At that time, Israel was under Roman rule and was, therefore, required to use Roman coinage for all commerce. However, the offerings at the Temple were only to be paid in the Hebrew currency. That means that as people arrived the Temple to make their offerings, they had to exchange Romans coins for Hebrew coins. As a convenience, money changers were permitted to set up in the outer court of the Temple. But it was not long before what began as a service became an opportunity for obscene profit. It seems likely that these profits were not just to the money changers themselves but also to the Temple authorities who permitted this arrangement.
So Jesus became angry that His Father’s house was being made a house of personal profit rather than a house of prayer. He flipped over their tables (imagine all those carefully counted and stacked coins flying across the ground and mixing with the next table) and drove out the money changers, for whom this was their livelihood. So the Temple leaders challenged Jesus by questioning his authority for such actions. They conveniently did not address objections to their use of the Temple for personal profiteering.
We may think that we are not like those money changers, and on the surface we are not. But the real challenge underlying Jesus’ confrontation with the money changers is that our faith in God and our relationship with Him is not for what we get out of it. It is rather about serving the God who made us and calls us into His service. How many of us are Christian because it makes our lives better, gives us fellowship and purpose, etc.? Our calling is to serve God.”
We have a tendency to still want to hold on to the authority over our own lives, and decide what we will “do for God.” But God is our authority not because we like what we think He asks us to do, or because it makes us feel better, or gives us a sense of belonging, but because He is God and we are His to command!
I do believe that serving God ultimately makes our lives more satisfying and fulfilling (not necessarily easier), but that is only fully realized when we consciously give ourselves to His service completely and not just for those parts that seem good to us.
Probably the greatest challenge Christian faith presents to us is authority. We want to be the authority in our own lives, but that authority rightly belongs to God.
Where do you want to say “You’re not the boss of me!”
This column appeared in the September 27, 2020 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.