When churches get so far away from what they’re supposed to be, don’t go in an try to fix anything – they just might kill you… 🙂 Just kidding. Sort of.
I supposed this was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Jesus. Just prior to this, Jesus had entered triumphantly, then encountered the Pharisees who still couldn’t see him for who He really was. Right after that, he wept for Jerusalem because they had rejected him. His emotions were fresh and all bubbling up at the surface. So I imagine, walking into the temple courts and seeing what had become of it was too much to bear. The temple was supposed to be a house of prayer. The temple was the religious center for the town. Everything God-oriented that was going to happen would have originated there. If the temple was a place where money changers were taking advantage of people who were coming to make a sacrifice, things must be really bad in that town.
It’s easy to be judgmental of the Pharisees and Religious leaders, but we must be careful. It’s just as easy for us to turn our churches and relationship with Jesus into something that is far from him. We may not be trying to take advantage of people – financially speaking – but that doesn’t mean we’re not misusing our relationship and worship. When worship, church and our relationship with God become about anything else besides passionately pursuing Jesus, we are doing the same thing. When worship becomes about doing a specific song, style of song or volume of song – we’re off track. When church is about what we get out of it, how good the worship and sermon is and how I feel when I leave, we’re being Pharisees. When our relationship with Jesus is on again, off again – when we only put in the time when things or going well, or we only talk to God when we want something…we’re robbing ourselves of a real relationship with God.
Things are different now. We are the dwelling place of God. We don’t go to church to find God, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. When we go to worship, we don’t gather in a holy room. Instead a bunch of holy rooms are coming together to worship. If this is how Jesus responded because of the way they were using the temple, How would God respond to the way we are using His temple – us?
Matthew 21:12-17 (NET)
Cleansing the Temple
12 Then Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying in the temple courts, and turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 And he said to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are turning it into a den of robbers!”
14 The blind and lame came to him in the temple courts, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the experts in the law saw the wonderful things he did and heard the children crying out in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16 and said to him, “Do you hear what they are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of children and nursing infants you have prepared praise for yourself’?” 17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and spent the night there.
Ask God to show you anyway you have been trying to take advantage of your relationship with Him to get what you want out of it. Then ask for forgiveness of it. Ask God to show you ways that you are misusing and abusing the temple he gave you so He could come live in you. Then ask for forgiveness. Ask God to show you ways you are misperceiving church and thinking of church as something you get as opposed to something you are.
Then ask God to give you the strength and grace to turn and live the right way.