Inside Out Part 3: Disgust
On Sunday 17th January at our morning services, we continued our series Inside Out with the topic 'Disgust'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
If you would like to listen to the talk, please click here.
Talk Notes and Summary
What disgusts you? Is it certain types of food, certain habits, things other people do, things your kids do?
When we thing of things that disgust us, that might be the kind of thing we are thinking about. But is there a different kind of disgust, one that might actually lead to something better? Some kind of disgust that motivates good things and that rather than try to suppress we should be letting out?
To help us think this through, I am going to use a story from the life of Jesus and actually we are going to unpack this over two weeks – this week and next. The story can be found in Mark’s account of Jesus’ life in the New Testament. It is in chapter 11 verses 1 to 17. Click here to read that story.
Jesus has just arrived in Jerusalem in great triumph, people giving him praise and admiration. Then he pays a visit to the temple. This was the place where God resided and the presence of God could be felt. On this first day he just looks at it and then travels outside of the village of Bethany.
Then the next day Jesus was going to travel back to Jerusalem and he was hungry. He came across a fig tree which had no fruit and he curses the tree.
Then they get to Jerusalem and Jesus, entered the courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling. Clearly something has triggered this reaction. Jesus tells us what in verse 17.
This temple is supposed to be a sacred place, a place where people from all nations can come and pray and meet God, but instead it has been turned into a market where people are being ripped off. He had seen this the day before and been so disgusted that he returned the following day and did something about it.
What is in common between these two events – the fig tree and the temple being misused? Well it seems to me that neither the fig tree nor the temple were fulfilling their purpose. The fig tree provides fruit to feed hungry people and the temple was supposed to be a place for people to come and encounter God.
The temple was supposed to point people to God and instead it was corrupted and wasn’t fulfilling the primary purpose God had planned for it and it disgusted Jesus. But Jesus used that disgust to motivate him to action, to change things.
So it seems to me that this is a different kind of disgust. It is a righteous disgust – a disgust that we might describe as a holy discontent and often times a discontent that is inspired by God. And if you’re not a Christian you aren’t excluded from this. I think God gives people this holy discontent and he gives it to people who don’t even believes he exists too and I think he gives different holy discontents to different people.
The problem with holy discontent is that it is often really uncomfortable, painful almost. But if it is from God we should allow it to breed and fester and then to drive us to action.
Questions and Reflections (to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)
1. What disgusts you?
2. Why do you think Jesus went to the temple but left it a day before he did anything?
3. Why do you think Jesus cursed the fig tree? Was he being unfair?
4. What was it about the fig tree and the stuff going on in the temple that so disgusted him?
5. Can you think of any other characters in God’s story in the Bible who had a holy discontent or righteous disgust? What did it drive them to do?
6. Do you have a holy discontent? If not how can you find one?
7. What action is your discontent going to drive you to?