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What Needs to Be Cleansed From Our Temple Today?

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Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, "The Scriptures declare, "My Temple will be called a house of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves!" The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. -- Matthew 21: 12-14 (NLT)

The clearing of the temple by Jesus. This event occurs in every Gospel account. It shows Jesus at His most displeased. In one account He makes a whip out of some cords to drive out what He felt did not belong. This account can speak to both our individual walks as well as the state of our churches today. The church is of course the modern day temple, where the people of God come to worship and our body is also the temple of the Holy Spirit. We can conclude that based on the accounts of this story that God is infinitely concerned about the state of our temples today. He is asking us -- what needs to be cleansed from our temples today?


In looking at all four accounts we can see three major themes Jesus was upset about. The first being the distortion of religion into a commercial enterprise. God never intended religion to be a commercial pursuit. It was never supposed to be about money. That is one end result of the secularization of the church. God is very clear what He considers pure religion:


Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. -- James 1: 27 (NLT)


How many churches are all about widows and orphans these days? Most churches today contribute less than 5% of the budget towards missions and offer very little in the way of true benevolence. Too many churches are not only "corrupted" by the world but they are outright infiltrated by the world. We are supposed to be separate from the world but modern theories of church growth place an emphasis on "meeting people in their culture." This despite the fact that their culture is killing them. When Paul visited Ephesus and other Hellenic cities, he found cultures that worshipped multiple pagan gods and indulged in all sorts of sinful practices. Do you think he was worried about meeting them in their culture? No! He was trying to bring them to the cross to save them from their culture.


What was Jesus seeing in the temple? He was seeing tables filled with animals for sale to offer sacrifice. Tables with money changers who were there to convert outside currencies into Jewish monies. In John's account we see Jesus address this directly:


Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, "Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father's house into a marketplace!" -- John 2: 16 (NLT)


How many churches can we walk into today and feel like we are in a marketplace just by standing in the lobby? Bake sales and sermons on CD. I know the argument -- it's all for Jesus! Well, I am sure whatever argument we can muster is the same argument they would have had the day Jesus cleared the temple. Think about it. They people selling animals were doing so as a convenience to the people. The proceeds went to the temple! Just like today. The proceeds of the bake sale go to support the missions' trip, or the children's choir, or the new building project. We use a Machiavellian justification that the ends somehow justify the means. The temple of God is meant to be more than that.


Likewise in our own walks as well. The issues just described come down to greed and compromise. Jesus made it very clear that we cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve both God and money. On the issue of compromise we must be vigilant against the things of this world.

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