Money Changers in the Temple

Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in Faith, Married Life, Money | 18 comments

cindee 11

 

Mornings in the Baer house are fairly predictable most days. The smell of fresh brewed coffee usually lures this sleep-worshiper downstairs to join my early rising husband. I typically find him reading or studying, at least one cup ahead of me.

This week he’s been preparing a lesson for his Men’s group on the second chapter of John which includes the story of Jesus’ reaction to the money changers in the temple.

As always, our current reading material generates a lot of discussion while the sun slowly creeps up over the mountain outside.

Brendon tends to enjoy and retain facts. I usually fan out to the personal application of the topic we’re haggling over. The balance is good. One without the other can lead to the same misguided thinking highlighted in the story of the money changers.

As you might recall, Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and was joined with throngs of other pilgrims converging on the temple. When he arrived he found commerce barricading communion.

The scene of greed within the walls of a place designed for worship caused a reaction that stunned many observers. The tables were overturned spilling their profits to the floor as the unassuming teacher took his rightful place in his Father’s house.

I can’t help but wonder how far we’ve deviated from the practices we were instructed to follow in worship.

I wonder if Jesus physically attended our gatherings if he would be pleased and comfortable with what he saw.

Up until Jesus arrived, people who attended the feast knew what to expect. They knew their money would be exchanged for another currency that included an unfair tax. They knew and accepted the fact they would probably be asked to purchase a “more acceptable” animal to sacrifice at an unreasonable price. But they did it anyway because they loved God and wanted to follow the expected ordinances.

Like helpless sheep they adhered to what was customary. Do we do that?

Henri Nouwen writes this: “Jesus, the Son of God, hungers and thirsts for uprightness. He abhors injustice. He resists those who try to gather wealth and influence by oppression and exploitation. With fervor he proclaims that the way to the Kingdom is not in offering many sacrifices but in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and the prisoners, Matt 25:31-46. He longs for a just world.”

As I sip my coffee, mulling over facts, I’m challenged to consider my personal practices. Am I able to overturn the money changer’s table in the sanctuary of my own heart? I wonder.

Do I overtax my soul, breeding resentment and thus offering shallow sacrifices?

Do I mindlessly adhere to practices I know are wrong simply because they are customary?

What furniture do I need to rearrange so Christ can take his rightful place in my temple?

 

I wonder about these things as sun rays seep through the trees outside on another ordinary morning.

 

(Many thanks to Cindee Snider Re for sharing her photo)

Linking up with #GiveMeGrace

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18 Comments

  1. What a great post, Pat. “What furniture do I need to rearrange?” Yes, lots! I know so many people, men in particular, that are stumbled by how the church handles money. Something near and dear to my heart. Appreciate your challenge today.

    • Money is definitely a heated topic, I guess the bigger question is what do we do about it? For me, it’s about inspecting my own heart. Knowing my convictions and positions coupled with direct action is my challenge.

      Thanks for commenting Michelle.

  2. Pat, I love that you’ve included Nouwen in your musings this morning. And your powerful questions at the end are worth their weight in gold. And for all this, I thank you, friend.

    Have a weekend of joy …

    • Thank YOU for visiting, Linda. A friend introduced me to Henri Nouwen around 6yrs ago. His beautiful words, always wrapped in the simplicity of the Spirit of Christ, are food for the soul. He’s part of a balanced diet of devotionals I read every day.

      You have a joyous weekend too…

  3. “Overtax my soul” … gulp. Shamefully guilty.

    • I know, right! Can you imagine the resentment attached to being overtaxed? It’s even worse when we’re the ones overtaxing ourselves leaving us too depleted to bring our offerings graciously or with gratitude.

      I’m gulping too :))

  4. I’m wondering how often “commerce barricade communion” in my own life. I’ve been thinking a lot about the simplicity of the gospel message and the simplicity of our call to communion with God. I think sometimes we just make it too complicated…too commercial all the way around.

    • I’m with you Amy, I crave the simplicity of communion too. Unfortunately most of my barricades are self induced. Time for a little more simplicity all the way around, I’d say.

  5. challenging and thought provoking causing much inward looking. thanks yet again.

    • For me too, Teresa. Can’t wait to see you in a couple weeks!

  6. They say how we view and treat money is more indicative of our heart condition than any other thing we believe. Could be…

    • All the more reason to be intentional about how we manage and view it, right Debbi?

  7. You bring up some interesting points and correlations here. You’re right, a sacrifice offered with resentment cheapens the benefit of the sacrifice altogether – at least from our standpoint.

    • Interestingly I just read Romans 12 today in The Message regarding our call to present our whole self as a living sacrifice. It kind of sums up what you were saying.

      “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life, and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you”. Romans 21:1

  8. So much meat here! So much furniture to move around there as in my heart. Thank you for this an on point post.

    • Maybe a massive yard sale is in order Sonya, I’ve got PLENTY of furniture to offload :)) Thanks for visiting Sonya.

  9. I’m new to the words of Henri Nouwen but have loved evertything I’ve read. Every offering I encounter is followed by a deep sigh and head nod of affirmation. Good stuff. I love how you broke this scene down so personally Pat. I’ll sit with your questions today. Happy Sunday!

    • Nouwen’s crown jewel in my opinion is Life of the Beloved. If we truly claim and live this one simple truth it will change everything about our walk with God.

      You have a joyous Sunday too, Lisha.

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